True Diversity feat. Trans in the City

Elevating Trans and Non-Binary People in the Workplace.

Introducing Bobbi Pickard, CEO of Trans in the City, who is leading crucial efforts to elevate trans and non-binary individuals in the business world.

In this interview, Bobbi offers valuable insights on the significance of diversity, the challenges of fostering inclusivity, and the groundbreaking initiatives spearheaded by Trans in the City.

Tony @ ADLIB: First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to jump on a call and give up some of your time to do this. I completed the Trans Inclusion E-Learning Course last year and it was a really helpful introduction for me, so thank you for sharing that with us too. Before we get into the main questions, would you like to tell our audience a little bit about how the course came about?

Bobbi: That’s really great to hear! It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I always wanted to do it as a collaboration with other people in the trans community. We funded it, and collaborated with Cool2BTrans and Global Butterflies. We got together with friends from our community who are photographers, videographers and editors to help create it. I think it’s great, it gives people a really easy way to take that first step in trans awareness.

Tony @ ADLIB: Yeah, absolutely. Coming from the perspective of somebody without a great deal of knowledge, I found the course so accessible, and very bite sized. I just worked my way through on my commute to and from work over the course of a week. Yeah, it was just really, really good!

Bobbi: That’s really lovely to hear, because that’s exactly what we wanted it to be.

Tony @ ADLIB: So in terms of the questions, let’s start with the need for diversity and inclusion. What’s your take? Why is it so important?

Bobbi: I think the business case for diversity and inclusion is so well established now that, if people are really asking what the business case is, then they can just Google it. It’s just so well documented and proven now. You simply end up with better organisations that are more innovative and more profitable at the end of the day.

I think the other thing that’s really important to bear in mind as an organisation, is that younger generations, Gen Z and younger, expect an organisation to be diverse. They expect it to be inclusive and they’re far more likely to identify as gender expansive, or with a queer identity.

They’ll be looking for organisations that are up to speed and inclusive, to make them attractive places for them to work. I think the there’s a general push back in Gen Z to not want to work for a corporate or a larger organisation, but to work for more agile, smaller organisations where they can feel they can make a difference, and feel totally part of a team. It’s that belonging. So it’s incredibly important for corporates these days to be up to speed with inclusion and how the whole of EDI integrates into your business. Otherwise, you’re just not going to be able to hire the best people.

Tony @ ADLIB: Absolutely, we hear it all the time. There are lots of businesses that don’t really know where to start with it though. And again, like putting together this series, it’s just a good place to send people so they can find out more and make a start. Don’t worry about what the big picture looks like, you can be working towards that. Just speak to people, get involved, get some people in who can talk you through the process, so that you can remove some of those barriers and start doing something. You’ll find you can get somewhere quite quickly, as opposed to just standing still whilst you worry about being perfect.

Bobbi: That’s exactly it. It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start somewhere and jump in. It’s such a huge challenge that you can start at the bit you feel most confident in and the more that you learn about one diversity, the more you expand your comfort zone. Then all of a sudden you realise that many of the challenges are the same across all diversities.

The underlying challenge is just to accept people as people, as the individuals they are. If you start understanding the nuances between different diversities, you start understanding the intersectionalities. I think you end up in a place where you see the world in a much brighter way than you do if you don’t have that awareness around diversity.

Tony @ ALDIB: Amazing. Thank you! Second question: Can you share a little bit more about what you do? What’s the purpose and mission behind your initiative?

Bobbi: Yes, I am CEO of Trans in the City. I’ve also got few other roles; I’m a Global EDI Consultant for a FTSE Top 5, Patron of FFlag, Champion of Stonewall Housing, an EDI associate for The Wellcome Trust and a United Nations Delegate for the Commission of the Status of Women in the UK . My main role is CEO of Trans in the City though, which is the organisation I founded seven years ago, to elevate trans and non-binary people in business, to try and overcome the discrimination that trans and non-binary people face when getting employment, in higher education, in getting a promotion. We’re here to counteract some of the abuse that surveys show 98% of trans and non-binary people experience in the workplace.

We have training sessions that we offer, including the learning you’ve mentioned, but we do lots of different types of training too. Whether it’s just the basic trans 101 training or more specific, tailored training for EDI and HR professionals, executive mentoring, a whole training suite.

We also do other really important work. We’ve created a peer network for allies in business, and the role of allies is vital these days, so we’re trying to get allies working together. Championing trans and non-binary people is absolutely key because it’s never a minority that gains more equality. The minority highlights the need  but it’s allies that open the door, people in power that enable minorities to have equality. So allies of the trans non binary community are absolutely essential.

We’ve got members groups for trans and non-binary people in business. But the bit I’m really excited about at the minute is our Student Ambassador Scheme. Our aim is to link together every trans and non-binary young person in higher education or at the start of their career. We’re giving them a peer network. We’re giving them support, experience days with some of the 350 organisations that we work with. We’re giving them a network or pipeline and mentoring into their chosen career path. So, for instance, we’re setting up a law pipeline where our law firms are providing mentors. So those students can really understand how to progress really quickly and hit the ground running in whatever industry that they want to work in. And as well as that, we’re creating the trans and non-binary champions of the future.

I’ve been doing trans awareness now for 21 years and some of those feel like long years! I learned as I went along, and it’s the same for lots of my directors and executive directors. What we want to do is, is give all of those learnings, all of those contacts, all of those tips and tricks to young trans and non-binary people so we end up with a whole field full of the most amazing champions for trans and non-binary people. Talking to some of the the young, trans and non-binary people always amazes me. They are the most phenomenal people that I think I’ve ever come across, they’re the most eloquent and determined. It’s just breathtaking. And it’s such a privilege

Tony @ ADLIB: I can totally see that through some of the networks I’m a part of. It’s incredible to see how much of a difference that support from a community does for people. So cool.

So, question number three: What do you consider potential consequences of a lack of diversity and inclusion? We kind of answer this at the beginning. And what do you see as the main benefits of an inclusive workforce?

Bobbi: I think we have covered it, but I mean, the consequences are fairly dire, aren’t they? One of the questions that loads of organizations asked me a lot, is “How can I make the business case for my organisation be more inclusive and, and safe for everybody without having the data?” And that kind of puzzles me because what they’re actually saying is they’re happy with their organisation being non-inclusive and unsafe until they get proof that it shouldn’t be. Surely every organisation has that duty of care for all employees to make the place of work a place where their wellbeing is protected, where their workers’ safety is protected? I can understand people’s leaning towards wanting to see proof, but we know diversity exists, we only have to catch a bus to see diversity in action by the people on it. So having an inclusive workplace is something that we really shouldn’t be questioning anymore.

The reverse of this is that we’ll have cases where people’s wellbeing is affected. All of that money that we’ve invested on recruiting people and training people and progressing them in their career will be wasted. Because their wellbeing will mean that they’ll leave, or they’ll not be able to continue working in the environment, and we won’t be attracting the best talent.

Tony @ADLIB: Back to the Trans Inclusion E-Learning Course…

Bobbi: I think we’ve kind of covered it but I will add that it’s really there not to replace an in person training or one-on-one courses, it’s there to introduce the real fundamental basics, which means that if you do have an in-person course then you’re getting the most out of it. It also helps give you that extra confidence that if you do see a trans person, you can just go up and say hello, because you know, they’re a person – Not a label, not an issue, or whatever that you might see in the media. It’s that really basic information.

Education about the trans and non-binary community is at a shocking low in our society and it’s not helped by some of the negative campaigns that we’ve seen from political parties and the media. So really, it’s to try and get that message out that the most important word in “trans and non-binary people”  isn’t “trans and non-binary “ but  “people”. People like anybody else, just as boring as anybody else, we take the bins out, we watch the same cheesy series on TV and all the rest of that stuff. Being trans is probably the smallest part about our identity.

Tony@ ADLIB: Very well put! Last question: How can businesses and potential employers get involved with your initiative organisation?

Bobbi: The easiest way is to go to our website: Trans in the City.

We work differently to other organisations. When we say we’d like organisations to be involved, we mean involved with a capital I and underlined and highlighted! We obviously need clients to come on board as sponsors, as we need we need funds to do things like the Student Ambassador Scheme and push things forward. But we really want to work in collaboration with our sponsors too.

We want those organisations to tell us what they need, so we can give them the support they need, but we also encourage them to start collaborating with each other too so they’re not reinventing the wheel. I think the way that we will really shift the dial, not just with trans and non-binary inclusion, but inclusion across the board, is by businesses really coming together, dropping the competitiveness that they need as businesses in their own specific fields – actually working together on the bits that would really change society for the better. That’s where we’ll reach a sea change for society as a whole. Come and work with us.

Trans in the City are the world’s largest organisation for trans and non-binary people in business. Established in 2017, we became a not-for-profit company in 2022, and we are led by trans and non-binary people and collaborate with over 300 global corporate partners to raise awareness, share contacts and best practice, provide role models and speakers and access to consultancy and training.

You can find out more about Trans in the City and their work, here.

If you are a part of an initiative, brand or company that proactively champions diversity and would like to be featured as part of the “True Diversity” series please get in touch with Tony.

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