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Equality

How To Empower Transgender Employees To Be Their Authentic Selves

Salesforce offers global gender inclusive benefits to transgender and nonbinary employees so they have the critical financial and emotional support they deserve.

Overhead view of 4 individuals painting LGBTQ+ and transgender flags: gender inclusive benefits
Employees who feel able to show up as their authentic selves at work are more engaged and satisfied. [Malte Müeller/Getty Images]

August Scott knew her life would change that day in February when she took a deep breath and published an especially personal post on LinkedIn. But she may not have realized how much her words would affect other people’s lives, too.

In that post, which has since gone viral, Scott announced she had begun her gender transition journey and her pronouns are she/her. She officially reintroduced herself to her professional network as August Scott.

august scott: gender inclusive benefits

August Scott is the manager of Physical Security Technology Systems, where she leads a team responsible for the deployment, maintenance, and administration of all Salesforce.com global security systems.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Commenters praised her transparency and asked for tips on how to support loved ones embarking on similar journeys.

This month is Pride Month in the U.S., commemorating the June 28 uprising at New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969.

Today, members of the LGBTQ+ community are still facing oppressive systems and non-inclusive environments. Amid a new wave of anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric and legislation, it’s still just as important for us all — allies included — to stand up against bigotry and work towards creating a more equal world. We can do this through our day-to-day actions and by creating programs that not only support trans employees, like Scott, but also empower them.

The future of the workforce is more diverse than ever

According to a recent UCLA study, more than 1.6 million Americans identify as transgender, with about 43% between the ages of 13 and 24 — nearly double what it was in 2017. Young people who are entering, or will enter, the workforce are more readily embracing their identities, so creating inclusive workspaces is not only the right thing to do, it’s crucial to the long-term health of companies.

Gen Z — the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, and on track to become the most educated generation — values diversity and inclusion at a higher rate than its predecessors. They’re most likely to agree forms and profiles should include gender options beyond “man” and “woman,” as 35% say they personally know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.

As corporations plan for the future, it’s crucial that they create welcoming spaces for this generation that will soon become the largest group in the workforce.

I was probably holding 20% of myself back at work because I didn’t want to out myself.

August Scott

Empowering trans employees to be their authentic selves

Studies have shown that employees who feel able to show up as their authentic selves at work are more engaged and satisfied. They also perform better in their jobs. For members of the trans community, like Scott, feeling empowered to fully be themselves at work is about more than acceptance — it’s also about active support. At Salesforce, that means providing gender inclusive benefits for employees embarking on gender transition journeys.

“What Salesforce incorporated into their medical benefits is incredible,” said Scott. “I have friends who have great medical benefits, but are having to pay 100% for their surgeries. Salesforce is covering a significant portion of the costs for me.”

The fact that Salesforce has put these systems in place to help make sure that somebody like myself has all the stops pulled out, so we can literally be ourselves, is wonderful. Because that’s another blocker for some people who are on this journey — the financial aspect.

August Scott

With its gender affirmation medical reimbursement, Salesforce provides financial support to employees going through this process. The global program includes comprehensive coverage for surgeries, prescription drugs, hormonal therapy, hair transplant and removal, and more. Additionally, employees who need to recover after gender affirmation procedures receive four weeks of paid leave.

These benefits go beyond medical procedures — there’s also wardrobe reimbursement, legal fee reimbursement, help navigating legal hurdles, counseling services, and support through our employee advocacy program.

“The fact that Salesforce has put these systems in place to help make sure that somebody like myself has all the stops pulled out, so we can literally be ourselves, is wonderful,” said Scott. “Because that’s another blocker for some people who are on this journey — the financial aspect.”

For Scott, the impact of the benefits goes beyond financial support. She’s also seeing the impact on her peace of mind, and subsequently, her experience at work — as she leads the Physical Security Technology Systems Health team.

“I was probably holding 20% of myself back at work because I didn’t want to out myself,” Scott said about the impact not living her truth had on her mental health. “I’ve had a lot of happy moments in my life, but this is the happiest I’ve ever been and the most stress-free.” Her experience wasn’t unique — according to a study published by the American Psychiatric Association, people who experience gender incongruence are about six times more likely to have had a mood or anxiety disorder healthcare visit.

“I used to have terrible anxiety, but it’s gone now,” Scott said. “Living lies is difficult. It’s hard. It takes away from your mental capacity. It didn’t occur to me that this was happening.”

Foster a culture of inclusion with training

When Scott began looking into ways to navigate this journey, she visited our employee knowledge website and began searching for resources, typing in the word “transgender” in the search. By the time she’d entered “trans,” an article had popped up to help her navigate her transition in the workplace. From that moment on, she had supporters within the company, from her assigned advocate to help guide her through the process, to leadership within Salesforce’s Office of Equality. “The Office of Equality conducted a ‘Transgender 101’ training for my team and my whole organization, so they could understand what was going on, what to say, what not to say, and what it means,” said Scott.

Scott was especially appreciative of the support that provided her team with information, and enabled them to be inclusive colleagues. “There are two things that I’ve noticed over my years: there are those people who absolutely hate us, and there’s nothing you’re going to be able to do about it,” she said. “Then there are those uninformed people that just don’t know. Therefore, they come across as not liking us, when in reality, they just don’t know.”

Members of Outforce, Salesforce’s employee resource group for LGBTQ+ employees, at the company’s 2022 Global Equality Leadership Summit.

Having a lasting positive impact

“I always kept work separate from personal life, and then in my personal life, I had two lives. So I was living three lives,” said Scott. “Merging those all into one has been nothing but amazing — magical quite honestly. Because I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do or say, how I’m going to dress, or where I’m going and with whom anymore. It’s just me.”

Equality is a core value at Salesforce. We believe that businesses can be powerful platforms for social change, and that it is our responsibility to further equality for all. Learn how we’re building a workplace that reflects society.

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