2012 Law Firm Best Practices Manual
A guide to LGBT-inclusive law practices.
2 0 1 2 L A W F I R M BEST PRACTICES M A N U A L A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES |1 Table of Contents MISSION STATEMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 NOTE FROM THE CEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 I. RAISING THE BAR: Where Law Firms Stand (Results of the 2011 Survey) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 II. GETTING STARTED: Evaluating the Firm’s Employment Practices and Culture . . . . . . . . . . 8 Chapter One: Is My Firm LGBT-Friendly? Evaluating a Firm’s Workplace Culture . . . . . . . . 9 Chapter Two: Ten Easy Steps to Becoming LGBT-Friendly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 III. BUILDING A DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE LAW FIRM Chapter Three: L-G-B-T What? Why Including LGBT Issues in Diversity Training Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Chapter Four: Recruiting and Hiring LGBT Lawyers and Law Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Chapter Five: Professional Development 101 for LGBT Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Chapter Six: Retaining the Top-Talent: Domestic Partner Benefits and Compensation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Chapter Seven: Transgender and Gender-Transitioning Employees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 IV. BEYOND THE FIRM Chapter Eight: Engaging the LGBT Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Conclusion: Further Support Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 APPENDIX A Non-Discrimination/Equal Employment Opportunity Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 APPENDIX B Sample Gender Transition Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 APPENDIX C Benefits and Compensation Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 APPENDIX D Best Employment Practices Objective Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES |3 The Mission of Equality Illinois Our Mission The Mission of Equality Illinois is to secure, protect and defend equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Illinois. Our Vision We envision a fair and unified Illinois where everyone is treated equally with dignity and respect and where all people live freely regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Our Values Inclusiveness. Equality Illinois belongs to all those who believe in our vision and mission and we will be accessible to and proactively engage others in our statewide community as owners of our vision and mission. Respect. Equality Illinois believes in the value of othersâ€”their opinions and their work. It is our respect for others that builds our collaborations and partnerships. Fairness. Equality Illinois believes that everyone should have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities afforded to them regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. 4| A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES Welcome Dear colleagues: This guide aims to highlight the best practices of leading law firms with regard to creating a welcoming and affirming workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lawyers. Creating an environment where LGBT lawyers will flourish is about more than merely complying with the doctrines established by the law. It requires taking affirmative steps to create a fair and supportive community – both within the firm and in society at large. Lawyers’ commitment and productivity at the firm is directly connected to the firm’s commitment to the lawyers. It is no coincidence that the law firms leading the way for LGBT equality are also among the most successful firms in the industry. This manual is a starting point, not a destination. The practices that your law firm eventually implements will be the result of internal discussions and adaptations specific to your firm. As you consider these practices, Equality Illinois is committed to supporting you along the way. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions, suggestions, or requests for sample materials. Together, we can build a better Illinois. Sincerely yours, Bernard Cherkasov, Esq. Chief Executive Officer A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES |5 I S E C T I O N RAISING the BAR: Where Law Firms Stand (Results of the 2011 Survey) 6| A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES PERSONNEL POLICIES • 97% of responding ﬁrms have an EEO policy or non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation [up from 88%] • 92% of responding ﬁrms have an EEO policy or non-discrimination policy that includes gender identity and/or gender expression [up from 84%] • 47% of responding ﬁrms already have gender transition guidelines, a recently-recognized policy need [up from 40%] DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS & INSURANCE COVERAGE • ALL responding law ﬁrms are offering the same beneﬁts to employees with civil union partners as to employees with married spouses • 91% of responding ﬁrms also offer same-sex domestic partnership beneﬁts for employees who are not in a civil union • 40% of responding ﬁrms already offer an insurance plan that covers treatment for gender identity related treatments, a recently recognized insurance beneﬁt need DIVERSITY • 94% of responding ﬁrms actively recruit/hire LGBT lawyers [up from 88%] • 79% of responding ﬁrms offer diversity training that includes sexual orientation and/or gender identity • 94% of responding ﬁrms have a diversity council or workgroup with a mission that includes LGBT issues [up from 88%] • 74% of responding ﬁrms have an LGBT afﬁnity group that focuses on advocating for LGBT legal issues and clients COMMUNITY OUTREACH • 82% of responding ﬁrms speciﬁcally market to the LGBT community • 82% of responding ﬁrms do pro bono work on LGBT issues • 88% of responding ﬁrms ﬁnancially sponsor LGBT community events • 91% of responding ﬁrms ﬁnancially support LGBT organizations A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES |7 II S E C T I O N GETTING STARTED: Evaluating the Firm’s Employment Practices and Culture 8| A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES CHAPTER I Is My Firm LGBT-Friendly? Evaluating a Firm’s Workplace Culture LGBT individuals face a wide variety of issues in the workplace. Should I come out to my employer in my interview? Should I wait until I have the job? Can I bring my partner to social events? Will my partner be covered under my employer’s health care policy? What are the firm’s requirements for providing civil union partner benefits? Does my firm have gender transition guidelines? These questions illustrate some of the issues that LGBT employees face in the workplace. While these issues touch on many different areas of employment policy and workplace culture, what they all have in common is that when left unaddressed these issues raise obstacles to full inclusion of LGBT employees into the workplace culture. In this increasingly competitive legal market, leading law firms know that respecting and valuing diversity in the workplace counts when it comes to procuring clients and recruiting talent. One issue that employers face in fostering a diverse workplace is how to create an LGBT-inclusive environment. A starting point for improving the workplace environment is an evaluation of the law firm’s existing employment policies and practices. From there, each firm can craft a roadmap tailored to the areas that need improvement in order to achieve LGBT equality in the workplace. This chapter sets forth a detailed list of the employment policies and practices that should be evaluated. Keep in mind that while written policies are easy to evaluate, unwritten practices and attitudes are not. A thorough evaluation process must include conversations with partners, associates, and staff. A firm-wide survey or forum of discussion on issues facing LGBT employees may be insightful. q Evaluating the firm’s non-discrimination or equal employment opportunity policy. Evaluating your firm’s non-discrimination or equal employment opportunity policy (EEO) is the easiest place to get started. Does the non-discrimination or EEO policy expressly include sexual orientation and gender identity classifications? Including sexual orientation and gender identity classifications in these policies are crucial to providing equal treatment in the workplace. When a firm has a written nondiscrimination or EEO policy, the firm’s values of equal opportunity are codified and its commitment to enforcing those values is made apparent to prospective employees. A written nondiscrimination or EEO policy also sets a clear standard for everyone working at the firm. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES |9 q What if our firm is small and does not have written non-discrimination or EEO policies? Then, it is time to draft these policies and publish them. 97% of the law firms participating in the 2011 Equality Illinois Law Firm Survey have a non-discrimination or EEO policy that expressly includes sexual orientation; 92% of participating firms also include gender identity and/or gender expression. q Evaluating the firm’s dress code policy. From suits to business casual attire, dress code policy may vary from firm to firm and reflects the different workplace attitudes of law firms. A law firm’s dress code policy may be a sensitive issue for transgender and gender-transitioning employees. If your law firm has a gender-specific dress code policy, then your firm will want to respect the transgender employee’s gender identity in enforcing that policy, or consider implementing a more gender-neutral dress code policy for everyone. q Evaluating the firm’s language. In the workplace, what we say matters as much as how we say it. If the goal is an inclusive workplace, then law firms must use inclusive language. For example, if your firm plans a social event, consider including the term “partner” along with the term “spouse” on invitations and related materials. This simple gesture goes a long way in communicating to lesbian and gay colleagues that their loved ones are also included. Remember, the use of inappropriate personal pronouns to a transgender person is never right. If you are not sure which pronoun is appropriate, then it is perfectly acceptable to ask. q Evaluating the firm’s marketing materials. Does your law firm have any materials that are designed for LGBT law student recruitment or for soliciting LGBT clients? There are many different ways to reach out to LGBT law students, lawyers, and the community through marketing. Some of the most successful marketing techniques include publicizing the firm’s LGBT lawyers, identifying services provided to the LGBT community, highlighting sensitivity to LGBT legal issues and pro bono work, and highlighting diversity initiatives that are LGBT inclusive. q Evaluating the firm’s diversity training. Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to create an inclusive and sensitive workplace is through diversity training. Does your firm include LGBT issues in diversity training? Are diversity training sessions mandatory? There are numerous LGBT organizations in Illinois that can offer diversity training sessions on LGBT issues geared towards your firm. q Evaluating criteria for funding local organizations and for accepting pro-bono work. Does your firm consider donating to LGBT organizations when it makes annual donations to local organizations? Does your firm work on LGBT legal issues on a pro bono basis? If so, is your firm highlighting these initiatives through its marketing materials? If your firm’s pro bono coordinator solicits pro bono assignments from local organizations, then he or she may want to include legal service organizations such as Lambda Legal or the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago. If your firm has a policy of not contributing to 501(c)(4) organizations, then consider the fact that a majority of LGBT 501(c)(4) organizations have 501(c)(3) educational affiliates that could use your firm’s contributions. For example, the Equality Illinois Education Project, a 501(c)(3) organization, educates the citizens of Illinois about a wide array of LGBT issues in a non-political, non-partisan way. Getting involved in both legal and community LGBT organizations is the best way to reach out to LGBT law students, lawyers, and the community. 10 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES q Evaluating the firm’s benefits and insurance policy. Does your firm offer equal benefits to civil union partners or to partners in a non-civil union relationship? What are your firm’s requirements for establishing same-sex relationship status? Equal benefits for the partners of lesbian and gay attorneys are crucial for a firm to have if it is to be truly LGBT-inclusive. It is not only the law, but also a matter of basic fairness to extend the same benefits that spouses of employees at the firm receive to the partners of lesbian and gay employees at the firm. How firms decide who qualifies for a same-sex partner benefits may vary from firm to firm. As of June 1, 2011 Illinois allows civil unions. Firms are free to set their own policies for verifying a couples’ status. However, the requirements for civil union spouses cannot be more stringent than the proof required for married couples. The best evidence of a committed relationship would be a certificate of marriage or civil union from a jurisdiction that offers such unions. Because civil unions are a new, untested institution, and because of the persistent inequality of federal law, some couples are still waiting until they have the ability to get married. Respecting their difficult decision, most law firms continue to offer equal benefits to same-sex “domestic partners.” To that end, some firms require registration in domestic partnership registries in cities, counties, or states that have them. Other firms require an affidavit of relationship from the employee. Equal partnership benefits are a must-have if your firm desires to recruit the top-talent in the legal market. All responding law firms offer the same benefits to employees with civil union partners as to employees with married spouses. The insurance plan that your firm offers is also an important issue for transgender and gender-transitioning employees. Does your firm’s insurance plan cover treatment for gender identity related treatments? 40% of the participating firms in the 2011 Equality Illinois Law Firm Survey already offer an insurance plan that covers treatment for gender identity related treatments, a recently recognized insurance benefit need. After evaluating current policies and practices, each firm will have to decide on a timeline for implementing changes necessary to become more inclusive and welcoming for its LGBT employees. Some of the above-illustrated policy changes and initiatives will take firms a different amount of time to implement. What follows in the next chapter are ten easy steps that every firm can take right away to create a more LGBT-friendly work environment. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 11 CHAPTER 2 Ten Easy Steps to Becoming LGBT-Friendly Now that you have evaluated your firm’s current policies and practices to determine where your firm needs improvement in order to have an LGBT-friendly workplace, the question arises of where to get started. Some of the different policy changes and initiatives may take time to implement. However, this chapter contains ten easy steps that your firm can take today to create a more LGBT-inclusive work environment. ONE: Promote an LGBT-friendly office culture by using inclusive language. For example, include same-sex partners, along with spouses, on firm event invitations. TWO: Respect transgender and gender-transitioning employees by using appropriate names and personal pronouns. If you are not sure what is appropriate, just ask. THREE: Review your firm’s promotional materials, electronic and printed, aimed at law students, prospective and current employees, clients, and the public and include LGBT specific examples of community engagement and pro bono work. FOUR: Encourage professional development by paying employees’ membership fees for LGBT legal associations. The American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association have LGBT divisions, in addition to the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and the National LGBT Bar Association. FIVE: Identify LGBT legal and non-legal organizations and contact them to see how your firm can get involved in the work they do. SIX: Research local LGBT community events that the firm can sponsor and use for networking with prospective clients and employees. SEVEN: Reach out to LGBT law school student organizations and encourage LGBT law students to apply for summer associate positions. Do not miss the opportunity to recruit the best and brightest at the annual Lavender Law conference, which takes place in the fall. EIGHT: Participate in local diversity career fairs and conferences. NINE: If your firm has a diversity council, make sure the diversity council considers LGBT issues in its initiatives. TEN: If your firm has an annual giving program that donates to local community organizations, include LGBT organizations in your firm’s program. 12 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES III S E C T I O N BUILDING a DIVERSE and INCLUSIVE LAW FIRM A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 13 CHAPTER 3 L-G-B-T What? Why Including LGBT Issues in Diversity Training Matters One of the biggest problems that “out” lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees face is confronting untrue societal stereotypes in the workplace. If the goal is an inclusive workplace, then employers must work to break down stereotypes that inhibit a sense of common understanding and mutual respect from developing among employees. Most lawyers would agree that a law firm functions best when every lawyer feels like a member of the team. Law firms report that one of the best tools for breaking down stereotypes in the workplace is diversity training. Diversity training is a great vehicle with which to address LGBT issues. Addressing these issues not only helps to create a more respectful and inclusive workplace, but also ensures that the firm can understand and meet the needs of clients. This chapter includes a list of LGBT issues that the firm should consider addressing in diversity training sessions and also includes a list of LGBT organizations that can help firms with these sessions. LGBT TOPIC AREAS The following is a list of common LGBT topics that arise in the workplace, followed by LGBT organizations that can help your firm address these issues in diversity training. a. Stereotypes LGBT people are frequently stereotyped because of a misunderstanding or unfamiliarity. Perhaps the most common stereotype across the LGBT community is confusion about gender norms, such as the belief that lesbians will appear more masculine or that gay men can appear more feminine. The issue with gender norms also arises with transgender employees, whose gender identity is different from societal expectations. Stereotypes can be dispelled in diversity training by showing examples of the variety of individuals in the LGBT community. Further, you can address gender-related stereotypes by showing that sexual identity is separate from gender identity. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) can be an excellent resource for addressing negative stereotypes against LGBT individuals. 14 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES b. Transgender issues Like other members of the LGBT community, transgender individuals may encounter issues in the workplace due to perceived gender norms. Employees may expect transgender employees to behave according to their pre-transition gender expression, particularly if the employee has worked with the firm before the transition. Workplace issues can include anything from lack of clarity on bathroom usage by the transgender employee to disapproval and disfavor at any level of management. Diversity training can help other employees understand the life of a transgender person and help manage expectations with regard to workplace interaction and other issues. FTM International is an organization that supports female-to-male transgender individuals as they transition and come out. The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund also offers resources for addressing transgender issues in the workplace. For more information on transgender employee issues, see Chapter 7 of this manual as well as Appendix B which contains a model guideline for gender transition policy. c. People with HIV/AIDS Since the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, the virus and disease has disproportionately affected members of the LGBT community, specifically gay men. The public often stigmatizes and fears people living with HIV/AIDS, although these fears are mostly based on misinformation rather than real facts. It is important to emphasize real facts about HIV transmission and life with HIV/AIDS to your employees so that they treat everyone with respect (regardless of health status). Once people know the truth about HIV/AIDS, they are typically much more accepting and much less fearful of individuals who are HIVpositive or living with AIDS. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago is a great resource for information on HIV/AIDS and can assist your firm with FAQs on the virus and disease for diversity training. d. Legal issues All employees should be informed of the legal implications of committing discriminatory acts. This is a way that diversity training can protect the firm from the actions of an employee who creates a hostile environment for an LGBT colleague, and hopefully, a way to make sure that the discrimination never occurs. Diversity training can be an opportunity for the firm to explain the legal consequences of discrimination and what can legally constitute discrimination or defamation. The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC) is can also be a resource for firms to use when creating diversity training seminars, as are the LGBT sections of the Chicago Bar Association, Illinois Bar Association, and American Bar Association. e. Appropriate language While employees may not have negative feelings about LGBT individuals, some may simply not realize that some terms can be offensive or negative. Diversity training can be a great place to address appropriate language to use with regard to LGBT individuals. Slurs and derogatory language are never acceptable. If one has to ask whether the term is offensive, then chances are that it is. One question we hear often is the term that one uses for an LGBT person’s partner. Spouse, partner, husband, wife are all acceptable terms of reference. And it is perfectly okay to ask which term your colleague prefers. Using appropriate language can mean the difference between welcoming an employee and making them feel excluded or marginalized. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 15 CHAPTER 4 Recruiting and Hiring LGBT Lawyers and Law Students Recruiting LGBT lawyers and law students is a great way to add diversity to your firm and bring in the unique perspective of LGBT individuals as employees. Having LGBT associates and partners can also attract clientele with LGBT legal issues. Additionally, more and more corporate clients are increasingly considering law firms’ commitments to diversity as part of their overall selection process. This chapter outlines some tips on where and how to recruit LGBT individuals, as well as marketing ideas to publicize your firm’s diversity and sensitivity to LGBT issues. WHERE TO RECRUIT Even seasoned hiring managers might need a reference on where to begin recruiting and connecting with LGBT candidates. Of course, LGBT attorneys and law students can be found through traditional recruiting venues, such as summer associate programs, general job fairs, and bar association networking events, but creating and maintaining a network of LGBT contacts is the best way to discover diverse talent. These tips will help focus your search on LGBT-specific avenues and cultivate your network of recruitment contacts. • D iversity career fairs. These are constantly being held in major cities, and although they are often general – not legal-specific – there are often plenty of LGBT legal candidates to consider. Two annual legal job fairs that specialize in diversity are the Vault MCCA Legal Diversity Career Fair (Washington, DC) and Heartland Diversity Legal Job Fair (Kansas City, MO). If there are no LGBT or minority job fairs near your firm, you can always organize one in partnership with other firms and area law schools. This will expand your recruiting network and boost your firm’s reputation for commitment to diversity. • L GBT conferences. LGBT attorneys, professors, and law students present cutting-edge legal research at LGBT conferences, which can be a great place to meet strong new legal thinkers. The annual Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference is the largest, but the ABA, ISBA, and other groups have conferences of their own on topics specific to the LGBT community. In addition, ChicagoKent held its first LGBT Civil Rights Conference in March of 2011, which is expected to take place on an annual basis. • LGBT law school organizations. Virtually every law school has an LGBT student group. Consider a targeted invitation, or a dedicated reception, or meeting with the group and its members in connection with your firm’s associate recruitment efforts. • L aw school career services offices. Also consider contacting your alma mater or nearby law schools to recruit LGBT law students and recent graduates directly. The law school’s career services office will be familiar with openly LGBT students at the school and can put you in contact with those students. Maintain relationships with the career services offices by participating in law school events and maintaining relationships with career counselors and law school organization advisors directly. 16 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES RECRUITING TIPS Large firms often have dedicated diversity liaisons to attract and retain LGBT and other diverse talent to the firm, but all firms can benefit from training in LGBT workplace issues. Prospective LGBT attorneys and law students can often sense immediately if a recruiter or interviewer is uncomfortable with LGBT issues, and thoughtless comments can sometimes be taken as hostile. Hiring managers should be familiar with the firm’s policies and practices regarding LGBT staff, and this manual has many helpful guides on formulating an LGBT-friendly workplace policy. Some groups, such as Out & Equal, offer workplace summits where firms can share their practices with each other. Especially when targeting your recruiting to LGBT individuals at career fairs and conferences, offer applicants the opportunity to meet an LGBT member of your firm. A current LGBT employee can inform the prospective employee about workplace equality, LGBT pro bono initiatives, and firm lifestyle even better than any website or brochure. To facilitate these relationships, your firm can host an LGBT dinner or networking reception. MARKETING IDEAS Diversity in the workplace can immensely improve the environment of any firm. Diversity candidates provide fresh perspectives and increase the global view of total firm membership. But aside from the obvious benefits to employers and employees alike, firm diversity can help market your firm to clients and attract more diverse talent. If your firm already employs LGBT lawyers, highlight them in the appropriate section of the firm website and publicize their work. Think about how to market your firm’s practice areas through your LGBT attorneys. For example, if your firm does estate planning work, be sure to publicize your attorneys’ understanding and sensitivity to the nuances of estate planning for same-sex couples which will make LGBT clients feel more at ease. The next step is to identify services that your firm provides to the LGBT community. Encourage your associates to participate in pro bono services specific to the LGBT community in your area, such as same-sex couple adoption, workplace discrimination matters, and estate planning for same-sex couples. These practices can be a great way to raise the profile of your firm and of individual attorneys while growing your associates’ expertise. Continuing to hire diverse candidates and to be involved in LGBT pro bono issues highlights your firm’s long-term commitment to diversity. All firms can benefit from the recognition and the publicity provided by published LGBT-friendliest workplace lists and the attraction of LGBT talent and clients. Even smaller firms in outlying communities can benefit from such publicity, as LGBT individuals in these communities often do not have the support and resources of those in big cities. Your firm can be an oasis for LGBT individuals to turn to for assistance, and this helps both your firm and the clients. Additional Resources • NALP directory of diversity career fairs: http://www.nalp.org/careerfairs • National LGBT Bar Association, with links to the Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference: www.lgbtbar.org • Out & Equal Workplace Summit & Career Link: www.outandequal.org • ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (the ABA has 11 different sections on LGBT issues) • ISBA Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity • CBA Committee for LGBT Rights • Lesbian & Gay Bar Association of Chicago: www.chilagbac.org A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 17 CHAPTER 5 Professional Development 101 for LGBT Associates Law firms can support and celebrate their LGBT associates by fostering opportunities for LGBT-sensitive professional development and networking. Firms can provide LGBT-friendly mentors, sponsor associates in LGBT bar associations and organizations, and encourage attorneys to participate in affinity groups and committees. All of these activities will help LGBT attorneys establish a positive environment for their firms and help LGBT associates develop into successful and committed members of the team. LGBT-FRIENDLY MENTORS Firms can provide high-level mentors to incoming LGBT associates, such as from the senior associate or partnership ranks. Mentorships are especially useful for new associates because mentors are familiar with the culture and practices of the firm. For LGBT associates, an openly LGBT or LGBT-supportive mentor can help navigate sensitive questions, such as about being “out” at work. Aside from in-house mentors, your firm can reach out to law school alumni networks and bar associations in your area in order to set your associate up with an LGBT mentor who can help the associate navigate the community. LAGBAC runs a mentor program which will pair your firm’s interested employees with law students from the Chicago-area law schools. While a partner or senior associate of another firm might not have the perspective of working in your firm, these mentors can still be useful for connecting your associates to other attorneys in the area who can offer them opportunities to co-author articles, attend events, and join groups. NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES FOR LGBT ASSOCIATES Firms should ensure that LGBT attorneys not only feel comfortable reaching out to the LGBT legal community in the area, but have realistic opportunities to do so. This type of networking is beneficial for both associates and their firm. There are several ways that firms can encourage their LGBT associates to expand their network: 18 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES • L GBT bar associations. In addition to paying for attorneys’ membership fees to the traditional bar associations, such as the American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, or Chicago Bar Association, firms should also consider paying for their attorneys’ membership in LGBT bar associations. These associations often host events, legal fund fundraisers, and special projects that associates can take part in. Two excellent bar associations include the National LGBT Bar Association and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. Furthermore, many bar associations have individual committees on LGBT issues, such as the CBA Committee on LGBT Rights. • LGBT legal and public interest organizations. These organizations can help attorneys network in their local LGBT legal communities, get involved in cases, and raise awareness for LGBT issues in the law. Several such organizations include Lambda Legal, Equality Illinois, and the Tri-State Alliance. • L GBT conferences & events. Firms can also facilitate LGBT attorneys attending conferences, whether local or nationwide, on LGBT legal issues. Many firms have established budgets or processes through which attorneys can participate in such conferences. Associates may have an interest in attending such a conference but might hold back due to work commitments or financial reasons. Attorneys who attend the conference on the firm’s dime can then be required to present on learned LGBT legal issues for the firm. The firm can even host LGBT legal education seminars and open them to the broader local community. NETWORKING FROM WITHIN: LGBT AFFINITY GROUPS Another way to strengthen the LGBT community and presence in your own firm is to form LGBT affinity groups or committees within the firm’s structure. Led by a partner or senior associate, a group like this can meet regularly, build team strength, and potentially address issues within the firm. Many firms have found this to be a great vehicle for identifying new and creative ways to improve the workplace environment for their employees. This need not be an elaborate or expensive process. In practice, some firms’ affinity groups meet over lunch or even at a partner’s home throughout the year. Look at the size of the LGBT community in your firm to determine the best way to implement regular meetings. Start out with introductions and teambuilding exercises, then go from there to create a regular meeting place where LGBT associates can feel free to share their opinions and perspectives. These groups can help associates feel welcomed and supported by the firm. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 19 CHAPTER 6 Attracting and Retaining Top-Talent: Same-Sex Partnership Benefits and Compensation 1. How to develop same-sex partner benefits; what should be included. Health, welfare, and retirement benefits are vital in recruiting and retaining top employees. Offering benefits to domestic and civil union partners of employees sends a message that the firm values all of its employees equally. Prior to June 1, 2011 it was up to the employer whether to offer benefits to the partners of their employees. As of June 1, 2011 the law changed, and generally all insurance policies issued in Illinois must provide the same benefits to partners in a civil union as those in an opposite-sex marriage. This means that if an employerâ€™s insurance policy allows for coverage for a married spouse of a policyholder, it must also provide for the same coverage for a civil union partner of the policyholder. On the same note, if a policy covers the dependent child(ren) of a married policyholder, it must also cover the child(ren) of a policyholder in a civil union. In addition to this requirement, employers may choose to offer other benefits such as tuition assistance, bereavement leave, relocation expenses, adoption assistance, and many other benefits. Keep in mind that federal law does not currently recognize Illinois civil unions. Civil union partners may qualify as dependents under Internal Revenue Code 152, but they only would do so if they live in the same household and the employee provides over 50% of the support of the partner. If the partner does not qualify as a tax code dependant under this test, employees must pay federal income tax on the value of any health benefits that the employer provides to their civil union partner. The employerâ€™s cost of providing benefits to the employeeâ€™s partner is imputed as income to the employee. The imputed income is then treated as wages for federal income tax and payroll tax purposes. While married employees do not have to pay these taxes, civil union partners do. 20 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES What about domestic partnership benefits? Even though civil unions are now available in Illinois, it is important to realize that many of the Federal benefits available to married couples are not available to civil union partners. As such, some same-sex couples may not wish to enter into civil unions because they do not want to partake in a system that treats them like second-class citizens. Firms that truly respect the values and beliefs of its employees will not condition their domestic partner benefits on employees entering into a civil union. Employers should take this into consideration and continue to offer domestic partner benefits to those employees who would qualify for them. For information on transgender-specific health care issues please refer to Chapter 7. What can employers do about the federal tax inequality? Employers devoted to true equality have begun reimbursing or “grossing up” their employee’s compensation for the difference that must be paid in federal taxes. A “gross up” means that employers will provide additional compensation to an employee who is subjected to the discrepancy in the law to compensate for the additional taxes the employee must pay as a result of covering a same-sex partner under health, dental, or vision plan. According to the 2011 Equality Illinois Law Firm Survey, law firms are increasingly offering gross up benefits to their employees. Please refer to appendix C for a model civil union/domestic partnership benefit checklist. 2. Process for verifying civil union status. The requirements for verifying one’s marital or civil union status may vary by employer. Some might require a state-issued civil union or marriage certificate, while others may not require any documentation at all. Regardless of what is required, the important point to remember is that employers should not subject spouses in a civil union to more stringent requirements to prove their union than they require of spouses in a marriage. 3. Family leave for same-sex partners As of June 1, 2011, Illinois law requires that government and most private employers treat civil union partners equally in regards to benefits such as bereavement and parental leave. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that originally did not include samesex partners and children of partners in its definition, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance in 2010 allowing for an employee to take family and medical leave to take care of children of same-sex partners. FMLA, while granting these rights to employees regarding leave for child-care of a same-sex partner’s children, does not provide for employee leave to take care of their sick same-sex partner. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 21 In addition, FMLA uses the phrase “serious health condition” to allow for the leave. Often, certain conditions relating to the health and medical care of transgender individuals are not deemed serious medical conditions by some agencies despite the fact that the American Medical Association has expressed their support for insurance coverage of treatments related to transitioning. In order to account for these discrepancies, firms make adjustments in their policies to ensure that their LGBT employees are treated equally to their married counterparts. Examples of this include changing the language of the employer’s leave plan to include same-sex partners. In addition, providing gender transition guidelines clearly states the employer’s policy, thus allowing an employee who is transitioning or considering to transition to feel that they are a valued part of the firm. 4. Continuation Health Coverage for same-sex partners The continuation health coverage rights afforded by Illinois law apply equally to civil union spouses and married spouses. Illinois continuation law can provide continuation up to 12 months if an employee is terminated or his or her hours are reduced. A civil union partner may be eligible to continue coverage for up to two years after the death, retirement, or dissolution of the employee. However, continuation rights under Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1996, or “COBRA” differ. COBRA, as a Federal law, does not recognize Illinois civil unions, meaning that civil union partners will not qualify for all of the same continuation rights as married spouses. It is important to note that nothing in COBRA prohibits employers from offering coverage to civil union partners or dependents. An employer who values its employees equally should implement best practices by providing COBRA-equivalent coverage to civil union partners and their dependents. For further information, please see Appendix E which contains the Illinois Department of Insurance Facts on Illinois Civil Unions and Insurance Benefits. 22 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES CHAPTER 7 Transgender and Gender-Transitioning Employees Although not every firm will have the experience of employing a transgender or gendertransitioning employee, it is important to have procedures in place to protect both the employee and the firm. From the employee’s perspective, it is important for the firm to make him or her feel accepted. From the firm’s perspective, it is crucial to have a committed and consistent process in place. DIVERSITY TRAINING Diversity training seminars are designed to prevent grievances in the workplace that can arise from lack of understanding or acceptance between employees. While most firms already periodically host diversity seminars, it would also be appropriate to hold a specific session when the firm hires an attorney who identifies as transgender or an employee at the firm discloses that he or she will undergo a gender transition. A managing partner or human resources manager at the firm can be responsible for coordinating a diversity training seminar, which can be by video or in person. Many speakers travel the country to give diversity seminars, and the in-person seminars can be a great way for employees to ask questions about how the transition could affect the workplace. If there are employees at the firm who have challenges understanding the transgender employee, this is a great forum for openly addressing those concerns and informing employees as to the discrimination that transgender individuals face. It may be acceptable to host these seminars without the transitioning person in attendance as these can be, but do not necessarily have to be, an opportunity for co-workers and colleagues to ask questions that they may otherwise feel awkward asking the newly ‘out’ co-worker directly. These sorts of seminars should be designed to encourage collegiality and dispel myths or misunderstandings. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 23 GENDER NEUTRAL DRESS CODES In the past, office dress codes dictated separate guidelines for male and female employees. Most firms’ dress codes now avoid gender stereotypes. For example, instead of the long-gone requirement for women to wear skirts or pantyhose, modern codes require attorneys to dress in “professional court attire” or “business attire” because the concepts apply equally to both male and female employees. Transgender employees or employees in the process of a gender transition should be allowed to dress in accordance with their current gender presentation. Thus, even during a transition, an employee who identifies as female should be allowed to dress as such. HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE In order for employers to be fully inclusive they should consider the needs of all of their employees. Transgender employees might need to take hormones or have surgical procedures. An inclusive health plan will cover these needs as well as any other medical and mental health care required for transitioning. There may be a need for firms to work with the insurance carriers to ensure that transgender employees are able to receive coverage for their particular needs regardless of the sex indicated in the documents. As an example, a transgender female might need a prostate exam. Many insurance policies do not cover these costs so it will take a concerned and proactive employer to think about subscribing to insurance carrier/plans that cover care for transitioning. Employers can also try to work with insurance carriers to ask that transgender exclusions are removed. In addition to considering various insurance policies, employers should also look to incorporate understanding leave policies for post-operative recoveries that will be necessary for the transitioning employee. Time off for transition-related medical procedures should be given the same consideration as other medically necessary procedures. GENDER TRANSITION GUIDELINES Having gender transition guidelines in place allows the firm to express a protocol for implementing its gender nondiscrimination policy instead of trying to create one when the firm hires a transgender employee or has an employee that is in the process of a gender transition. This removes any doubt about expectations and protocols for the partners, attorneys, and support staff while also allowing the firm to act quickly to integrate a transgender employee into the firm. The guidelines are typically drafted by human resources staff or managing partners and can be made available in several ways, including attachment to the general employee handbook for the firm or making a file available on the firm-wide network server. For gender-transitioning employees the guidelines often designate a staff member, either a supervising attorney or member of human resources, to assist the employee in filling out paperwork necessary for the gender transition recognition. This staff member can also discuss with the transitioning employee how to discuss the transition with other employees. The guidelines allow both the transitioning or transgender employee, as well as the firm, to know what to expect during the transition (or integration into the workplace if the employee is a new hire who has already transitioned). In addition to paperwork to update the employee’s gender in personnel records, administrative procedures may need to be updated, as well as adjusting markers on insurance and other benefits policies. In drafting the guidelines, the firm should try to strike a balance between integrating the transgender employee as smoothly as possible while also educating the other employees in respectful office conduct. For further information please refer to Appendix B for a model Gender Transition Guideline. 24 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES III S E C T I O N BEYOND THE FIRM A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 25 CHAPTER 8 Engaging with the LGBT Community Your firm can enhance its reputation and commitment for diversity by actively engaging with the LGBT community in your area. Chicago has a vibrant LGBT community, as do many communities in northern, central, and southern Illinois. These communities often provide opportunities for pro bono work, outreach, marketing, and event sponsoring. PRO BONO WORK WITH LGBT ORGANIZATIONS Encouraging your associates to do pro bono work on behalf of LGBT organizations is a great way to reach out to the community, make a positive difference in the lives of others, hone or learn new skills, and network. The organizations below provide opportunities for your associates to do pro bono work or other volunteering that affects laws in Illinois. 26 | ORGANIZATION OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE WEBSITE Lambda Legal, Cooperating Attorney Network Legal research and drafting amicus briefs www.lambdalegal.org • Take Action • Cooperating Attorney Network AIDS Legal Council of Chicago Debt collection defense, discrimination, employment, estate planning, immigration, insurance, public benefits www.aidslegal.com AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Statewide Advocacy Network Write to legislators concerning HIV / AIDS issues www.aclu-il.org • Legal Issues • Gay & Lesbian Rights Equality Illinois Pro bono work on legal or advocacy matters, speakers bureau, lobbying, or volunteering at events National Immigrant Justice Center’s National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities Pro bono work to protect asylum-seekers from persecution in their homeland due to LGBT or HIV status A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES www.eqil.org • Get Involved • Volunteer www.immigrantjustice.org • Programs • National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities SPONSORING EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL/NETWORKING EVENTS To further expand your involvement with your local LGBT community, your firm can sponsor community events and fundraisers to show support. Here are some ideas for each type of event: Community/Educational events: • Host a lunchtime panel discussion at your firm on recent developments in LGBT issues • Host a speaker to discuss recent developments on marriage equality in Illinois • Host a CLE workshop on legal updates and court cases on LGBT issues • Co-sponsor a networking cocktail hour with a local LGBT bar association, such as the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago • Co-sponsor a reception to recognize an achievement in LGBT rights in your area • Sponsor a diversity job fair and send a team to recruit LGBT students and lateral attorneys Social/Networking events: • Purchase a table at an LGBT organization’s benefit dinner • Host a fundraising competition with another local firm, the proceeds of which benefit a LGBT organization • Sponsor runners in a race that benefits an LGBT organization • Sponsor a benefit gala for an LGBT organization EXAMPLES OF MARKETING MATERIALS To continue the effect of your involvement in the LGBT community, it is key to advertise your firm’s commitment to diversity through marketing materials. With a reputation for support of LGBT issues, your firm will be sought out to participate in events, panels, speaking engagements, conferences, and job fairs. Here are some ways to advertise your firm’s commitment to LGBT diversity in the workplace: • List recent events on your firm’s webpage, as well as individual attorney profiles • List LGBT events, sponsorships, and other support in your firm’s brochure • Advertise in LGBT-centered issues of bar journals, such as the ABA Journal, Illinois Bar Journal, and CBA Record • Encourage your associates to draft articles for inclusion in LGBT journals and law review articles • Include articles on LGBT issues in your periodic client mailings A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 27 28 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES Acknowledgments The Law Firm Best Practices Manual is a labor of love and commitment by Equality Illinois Law Fellows, Corporate Responsibility Project Committee members, and our partners at some of the nation’s best law firms. We are grateful to all of you for your tireless work. Equality Illinois Law Fellows Anthony Kudron, J.D. 2012 Valerie Sherman, Esq Lyndsey Stults, J.D. 2013 Equality Illinois Corporate Responsibility Project Committee Bernard Cherkasov, Esq. Jeremy Gottschalk, Esq. Christina Kahrl Tonya Moore, Esq. John Parro Catherine Sikora Caroline Staerk Equality Illinois is the state’s oldest and largest organization securing, defending, and protecting equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. www.EqualityIllinois.org 3712 N Broadway #125 Chicago IL 60613 773.477.7173 email@example.com facebook.com/equalityillinois A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 29 A APPENDIX A: Non-Discrimination/Equal Employment Opportunity Policy [Firm Name] is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected under law. This policy applies to all areas of employment, including recruitment, hiring, training and development, promotion, transfer, termination, layoff, compensation, benefits, and all other conditions and privileges of employment. Each office of [Firm Name] also complies with applicable state and local laws whose provisions may vary from those on which Firm-wide policies are based. 30 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES B APPENDIX B: Gender Transition Guidelines FIRM’S STATEMENT ON WORKPLACE GENDER TRANSITION [FIRM NAME] has been and continues to be an advocate for diversity and equal employment opportunities for qualified candidates. Every person makes a unique contribution toward establishing _______ as a place where people can grow and succeed. We enable these contributions by maintaining a workplace environment that embraces diversity and fosters creativity and innovation. Accordingly, fairness and equity must be defining characteristics of our workplace environment. Per our Anti-Harassment Policy, “It is the policy of ________to ensure equal employment opportunity without discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability (physical or mental), ancestry, medical condition, marital status, veteran status, citizenship status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by law. _____ is committed to ensuring a work environment in which the dignity of every employee and partner is respected, and expects every employee and partner to show respect for all colleagues, independent contractors, clients, vendors, recruits and guests. ______ requires that all relationships among persons in the workplace be free of bias, prejudice and harassment. Respectful, professional conduct furthers the firm’s mission, promotes productivity, minimizes disputes, and enhances______’s reputation.” By providing a work environment of respect, trust, collaboration and cooperation, _______ can provide superior service to our clients and create a workplace in which we can achieve the highest professional satisfaction. People who can bring their whole selves to work can thrive in their job and career. Just as there are gay, lesbian and bisexual employees at _______, there are also employees who are transgender. Some are out — i.e., open about their gender identity or expression — and others may not be. However, given that many transitioning employees must come out to their employers in order to live consistently with their gender identity full-time, employers necessarily become involved in an employee’s transition. Workplace Gender Transition Guidelines The Firm has developed and implemented a set of guidelines which are intended to address the needs and issues that arise in the workplace when a transgender person transitions on the job at the firm. This document is intended to be used by those who may be or are transgender, their co-workers, managers, and friends. You may obtain a copy of the guidelines through your local HR department, the Firmwide Benefit Services Manager, or a member of the GLBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee. The transgender status of an individual is considered confidential and should only be disclosed on a need-to- know basis, and only with the consent of the individual. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 31 PURPOSE FOR GUIDELINES This document is intended to delineate workplace guidelines for addressing the needs and issues that arise in the workplace when a transgender person transitions on the job at the Firm. These guidelines support the firm’s AntiHarassment policy, which includes gender identity. This document is intended to be used by those who may be or are transgender, their co-workers, managers, and friends. If you need any assistance understanding something in this document or would like to have a conversation about transgender related issues, please see the resources section found at the end of this document. Change often creates anxiety around the unknown and as with all change, gender transitions affect many people – the individual transitioning, supervisors, peers, clients, and even those with incidental affiliation such as working in the same location or practice area. These guidelines provide a starting point for building awareness around a topic that is new to the workforce in the last 15 years. While the topic is new because of greater emphasis on retaining one’s past to succeed in a career or continue success in a career, it is similar to many other human resources change management issues that arise. These guidelines should be used in conjunction with change management resources and experience to ensure success on behalf of all parties involved. USEFUL TERMS The following list of terms represent “textbook” definitions. Please recognize that the understanding of these and other terms may be different for each person. You should consider level-setting the vocabulary you will use in each conversation to ensure everyone involved is using the applicable terms uniformly. • T ransgender refers to a broad range of people who experience and/or express their gender differently from what most people expect – either in terms of expressing a gender that does not match the sex listed on their original birth certificate (i.e., designated sex at birth), or physically changing their sex. It is an umbrella term. Not all people who consider themselves (or who may be considered by others as) transgender will undergo a gender transition. • S ex is the biologically based presumption of reproductive capability to determine a person’s label of female or male. This label, at birth, is usually based on a doctor’s visual assessment of a baby’s genitalia. • G ender is the social meaning given to sex. A person’s gender role reflects the duties, qualities and expectations of society based on gender which includes how we have learned to walk, look, act, dress, what job we choose, what first name we have and so on. • Gender Expression refers to all external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, mannerisms and speech patterns. • G ender Identity refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as male or female, which may or may not correspond to the person’s body or designated sex at birth. These individuals may or may not change their physical or gender characteristics in order to alter or publicly redefine their gender from male to female or from female to male. Gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation. • G ender dysphoria (GID) is a psychological diagnosis recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. This disorder is marked by severe distress and discomfort caused by the conflict between one’s gender identity and one’s designated sex at birth. Not all transgender people experience gender dysphoria or are diagnosed with GID. • T ranssexual refers to those individuals who, frequently with the support of medical or psychological professionals, are changing or have changed their physical characteristics/anatomy to facilitate personal and public recognition of their sex as different from that which they were assigned at birth. This may or may not include sex reassignment surgery. • M TF: “Male to Female”– Individual who is born and perceived to be male who transitions to publicly and privately live as a female. • F TM: “Female to Male” – Individual who is born and perceived to be female who transitions to publicly and privately live as a male. 32 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES • C ross-Dresser refers to an individual who wears the clothing and/or accoutrements, such as makeup and accessories, considered by society to correspond to the “opposite sex.” Unlike transgender individuals, cross-dressers typically do not seek to change their physical characteristics and/or manner of expression permanently or desire to live full-time as the opposite gender. (Cross-dressers are sometimes called “transvestites,” but that term is considered pejorative.) mployees that cross-dress some of the time may fear that discovery of their cross-dressing, even when on personal E time, may lead to discrimination or harassment at work. While cross-dressing off-duty is not related to an employee’s job performance, a person who cross-dresses off-duty is still protected by our policy prohibiting discrimination or harassment based on gender identity. • S exual orientation refers to an individual’s physical and emotional attraction to the same and/or opposite gender. “Heterosexual,” “bisexual,” and “gay and lesbians” are all sexual orientations. A person’s sexual orientation is distinct from a person’s gender identity and expression. TRANSITIONING: INTRODUCTION While the majority of people are comfortable with the physiology and identity they were assigned at birth, there is a portion of the population which isn’t. Some percentage of this population takes initiative to actively change their physiology (i.e., sex reassignment surgery - male to female) or expression (e.g., dress, jewelry, mannerisms, voice, vocabulary). Not all people who consider themselves or who may be transgender will choose a gender transition. The process of a transgender individual publicly changing his or her gender presentation in society is sometimes referred to as “transitioning.” The transitioning individual usually changes her or his name, clothing and appearance and may also make anatomical changes. If the individual remains at their same place of employment during this transition, it is known as “transitioning on the job” or “transitioning in the workplace.” This transition may include hormone therapy, sex-reassignment surgery and/or other components and is generally conducted under medical supervision based on a set of standards developed by medical professionals. Many transgender individuals face difficult situations/interactions in their personal, professional, family, and financial lives simultaneously. Additionally, those who have begun the process of transitioning may have begun hormone therapy, which can effect the individual’s disposition. We encourage the support team to be aware and sensitive to the stresses on the individual both internal and external to the Firm. The process for transitioning individuals is extensive. It is accomplished with the help of medical professionals, in accordance with recognized standards of care. In general, the process will involve psychological evaluation, monitoring, and counseling; hormone therapy; and, in some cases, a trial living period of at least one-year (the “real life experience”) to ascertain the level of comfort the individual has in the reassigned gender. It is often as the individual approaches this trial living period that the employer is given notice of the individual’s transition plan. Each individual transitioning will have her/his own set of unique factors that will require a customized plan. It is important that the individual work with their support team in an open and honest way to allow a smooth process within the workplace. EXPECTATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES There are expectations and responsibilities of each party associated with a transition in the workplace and it is essential that open and honest communication be established to build trust for each party. A successful transition in the workplace can only occur with commitment and understanding of each involved party. A. TRANSITIONING INDIVIDUAL If you are the transitioning individual, you have the right to openly be who you are. While still maintaining professional expectations, you may express your gender identity, characteristics or expression without fear of consequences. With this right comes the expectation that you will work with others to ensure that they understand your needs and that you understand the expectations of you. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 33 It is important for you to do your part to make the transition successful, and you should first inform personnel who can assist you. Your first point of contact may be your immediate superior, a member of your local HR Department and/or a member of the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee. It is important that at some point your immediate supervisor, manager, partner, or member of the LGBT Subcommittee becomes part of your support team. Remember you are covered under ________’s Anti-Harassment Policy, but ________ must be aware of your situation in order to provide support. Explain to the person that you’ve selected to speak with your intentions, needs, and concerns. Your manager, HR staff and others may not be educated about transgender issues and may not understand clearly what your needs may be. You should be prepared to spend some time educating people, but you don’t need to do it alone. Leverage your resources with the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee or your local LGBT networking forum to help you think through your thoughts and prepare for those discussions. (See the “Creating a Plan” section.) B. THE FIRM Our culture supports diversity. If someone who reports to you informs you of their desire to transition or if an individual in your workplace is currently in the transition process, you should work with and support that individual. While each situation is different and may require a unique approach, below are some steps an employee can take in order to work with the transitioning individual: • If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the transition process, allow the transitioning individual to educate you, leverage resources available to you through the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee and your local HR Department, or, if necessary, refer the person directly to such resources. • L isten carefully to what the individual is telling you and how they’d like to be treated (do they want to keep their transition as quiet as possible or do they wish to celebrate publicly?). • Be open-minded and discuss with the transitioning individual his or her needs and concerns. If you oversee, manage, or lead an employee or partner who is transitioning, it is important that you demonstrate an understanding and use a sensitive approach to their needs and concerns. It may be frightening to the transitioning individual to make himself or herself vulnerable to a person upon whom their job depends. Make it clear to them that your conversation will be held in confidence. Explain questions and concerns you might have and ask their opinion on putting together a plan for transitioning at work. During the early stages of an individual’s transition, often few, if any accommodations will be required on your part. However, at some point, issues dealing with changes in the employee’s physical appearance and name, as well as usage of restroom facilities and locker rooms must be addressed. There are also important considerations for employees who are involved in providing client service. FACTORS TO CONSIDER DURING THE TRANSITION PROCESS A. APPEARANCE STANDARDS A transgender employee is permitted to dress consistently with his or her gender identity and is required to comply with the same standards of dress and appearance that apply to all other people in their workplace and similar position. Local management has the same right to review a transitioning individual’s professional attire as they do any other individual. Any concerns regarding appearance should be addressed with the employee or partner directly. If the individual dresses or behaves inappropriately, this issue should be dealt with in the same manner it would be addressed with any other individual. You should contact your local HR Department directly with questions or concerns. 34 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES B. RESTROOM ACCESS Restroom access issues need to be handled with sensitivity, not only due to our obligation to provide transitioning individuals with the same level of restroom access available to non-transgender individuals, but also due to the emotional responses of co-workers to the idea of sharing facilities with a transgender co-worker. Unisex restrooms might help avoid this potential issue; however, most facilities will have gender specific designations on their restrooms. Co-workers who have personal concerns about sharing a restroom with a transgender individual should be invited to have an honest discussion with an appropriate HR staff member or a partner representative from the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee. C. NAME, GENDER, PHOTOGRAPH CHANGES Upon notification of legal name change of the transitioning individual, change his or her name and gender in all personnel and administrative records. (see â€œName Changesâ€? section) At the first opportunity, replace all photographs on display in the workplace with an updated photo portraying the individual in their new, reassigned gender. D. NAME CHANGES ON LICENSES Many of our employees are required legally to have a current and valid professional license to function in their role. At some point in the transition process, the transitioning individual may legally change his or her name. At that point his or her legal name no longer matches the name found on his or her license. Those responsible for signing reports, etc., should do so with their legal name. Upon a legal name change, individuals should work with the Attorney Training & Development Department (or other appropriate licensing experts) to process the name change with the applicable licensing body. E. CLIENT STANDARDS Those transgender individuals who serve clients are held to the same appearance and behavior standards as everyone else. Serving clients is not a reason to deny a transitioning individual the right to dress in his or her reassigned gender role. Client, employee, or partner preference is also not a reason to deny a transitioning individual the right to dress in her or his reassigned gender role. Communicating with clients can require difficult conversations. Please consider contacting the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee or your local HR Department to develop an appropriate plan for communicating any expectations. F. RIGHTS TO PRIVACY Transgender employees at ___________ have the right to be who they are without unnecessary disclosure of medical information. In addition, current and prospective employees and partners who encounter problems concerning identification documentation, such as payroll and insurance forms, should feel comfortable raising those concerns with the HR Department directly. G. STATEMENT OF CONFIDENTIALITY The transgender status of an individual is considered confidential and should only be disclosed on a need-toknow basis, and only with the consent of the individual. However, transitioning individuals are encouraged to participate in the necessary education of their coworkers at whatever level they are comfortable. CREATING A PLAN: GUIDELINES FOR TRANSITIONING INDIVIDUALS You, as a transitioning individual should try to create a support team. Try to involve your manager, local HR staff and/ or other supportive coworkers to work together to develop an engagement plan that is appropriate for you and the Firm. Below is a suggested list of things to consider and discuss with your support team. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 35 DEVELOP A LIST OF AFFECTED PERSONS • Who are all the people in the Firm you may need to engage at some point during the transition? • When do they need to be engaged? • Are there any specific issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later? CREATE A TIMELINE—SUGGESTED: 1 YEAR PRIOR TO TARGET TRANSITION DATES WHAT ARE YOUR MILESTONES? • Block out dates such as legal name change, transition milestones and other events. • Review the list of affected persons and develop the program to allow time for education. THINGS TO CONSIDER • How would you like your team to find out about your transition? (e.g., A letter, a face-to-face meeting, individual discussions, your supervisor explaining, etc.) • Will you need workspace changes to be made during the transition? • How long do certain HR functions take? (e.g., legal name changes in PeopleSoft, company directories, etc.) • How do you think your clients should be informed? • When will you need to process any necessary changes to professional licenses? EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED BRAINSTORM POTENTIAL ROADBLOCKS AND ADJUST YOUR PLANS ACCORDINGLY. FOR EXAMPLE: • List all the things that a new employee must do during the first week of employment—getting a security badge photo, W4 forms, insurance paperwork, etc. How long do these normally take? • Do a search for your current name on the Firm’s intranet for team rosters and other references. How many of these pages will need to be altered or removed? GUIDELINES FOR SUPPORT TEAM PROVIDE ASSURANCE • Affirm your support of the individual. • Clarify that he or she is covered by the existing policies outlined in the “Policy Statement” section of this document. • Make it clear that your conversation will be held in confidence and make note of those things for which you may wish to seek outside guidance. SOLICIT INPUT • Ask for suggestions on what you can do to help and discuss how you can assist him or her during their transition. • Ask if he or she wishes to inform their manager, co-workers and clients themselves, or prefers that this be done for them. • Ask if he or she is considering a name change. If yes, ask what name and pronoun the individual will use and when the individual will want you to begin referring to him or her using the new name and/or pronoun. • Discuss and agree upon how the individual will adhere to the Firm’s dress code. • The individual may feel more comfortable working in a different position during his or her transition. • Discuss if there is a preference to remain in his or her current position or be redeployed. • If the individual is married or partnered, ask how you should refer to them throughout and after the transition, e.g., partner, wife, husband, etc., and identify if there are any implications to employer provided benefits. DEVELOP A PROJECT PLAN • Discuss the expected timeline. • When the individual will begin his or her transition at work. This will probably be the point at which the individual begins to present consistently with his or her gender identity, including change of name, pronouns, dress, grooming, appearance and restroom use. • When to inform various affected persons. 36 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES • A nticipated time off required for medical treatment, if known. Explain that normal sick pay and leave policies will apply. • Confirm who will be the Firm’s main point of contact (manager or HR representative) to manage the Firm’s involvement during the transition. ADDRESSING CONCERNS OF CO-WORKERS AND CLIENTS A lack of knowledge about transgender issues has the potential for creating misunderstanding and tension in the workplace. While everyone is expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the Firm’s policies, we must also ensure that a forum is made available for individuals to express their concerns, ask questions and learn about transitioning in the workplace. In addition to a potential workgroup meeting at which the individual’s manager or partner may announce the transition (see Appendix A), trainings or briefing sessions for people on transgender issues are suggested. This will reduce fear of the unknown and help promote a positive work environment for all employees. Trainings or briefing sessions should be completed prior to the individual’s transition. This provides important information to co-workers, managers and clients on what to expect when the individual begins his or her transition. Establishing some level of comfort as to what the transition is and why it is happening is important for preventing future misunderstandings or issues. People who raise concerns about a transgender co-worker should be provided the firm’s Anti-Harassment Policy. They should be coached to differentiate personal beliefs from appropriate workplace behaviors where necessary. They will need to work cooperatively with their co-workers regardless of their gender identity and that failure to do so could result in corrective action, including termination of their employment. If people express concern regarding the appearance of a transgender co-worker after reviewing ________’s policies or if they are curious about the change in appearance, the manager may meet with team members individually to inform them of the change and to answer questions. If individuals have concerns with a transgender co-worker’s usage of a restroom or other sex-segregated facility after reviewing ________’s policies, the individual with the concern may be permitted to use a different or single-occupancy facility, if such facilities exist at that work location. PRONOUN AND NAME CHANGES An individual’s records and work-related documents should be retained under the individual’s legal name (as reflected on identification documents verified at the start of employment) unless and until the individual makes a legal change. Where a person’s legal name does not match his or her new name, the new name should be used on all documentation, such as email, phone directory, company identification card or access badge, name plate, etc., except where records must match the legal name, such as on payroll and insurance documents. In everyday written and oral speech, the new name and pronouns should be used when the individual is ready. Upon legal change of name, submit a request to your local HR Department (a new social security card is required). This request should update all internal systems and benefits-related systems. Work with local contact to order new business cards, building IDs, name plates & office related items. Note on pronouns: If a co-worker is transitioning and you are not certain which pronouns to use, it is appropriate to respectfully ask his or her name and which pronouns you should use. In general, it is considered insensitive to refer to someone by the wrong pronouns once you have established which set of pronouns he or she prefers. Again, transitioning individuals should be prepared to help educate their co-workers. LEAVE BENEFITS FOR TRANSGENDER EMPLOYEES Managers should provide sufficient flexibility to meet the individual’s needs for medical appointments. Time off for medical procedures is to be treated the same as other scheduled medically necessary procedures. A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 37 SURGERIES The process of transitioning may include one or more surgeries, but there is no one way to transition and each individual may take a different approach. Surgeries for those transitioning from male to female may include genital surgery, facial feminization and/or other feminizing procedures. Surgeries for those transitioning from female to male may include genital surgery, chest reconstruction and/or other masculinizing procedures. Recognize that a transitioning individual may or may not have these surgeries for any number of personal reasons and, furthermore, that surgery in and of itself is not the goal of a gender transition. As with other aspects of a transition, plans should be discussed and communicated only with affected parties in order to manage expectations and to minimize disruption. Medical information, including surgery plans communicated by an individual, should be treated confidentially. BENEFIT COVERAGE Please contact _______, Benefit Services Manager at (phone number/email address) for more information and/or assistance. IN SUMMARY Resources are available to help build awareness and understanding. Many are identified below. Additional support is available the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee (or relevant firm resource). The tone that each one of us sets will eventually determine the overall success of an employee transition at ________. While every person has the right to personal beliefs, we have the obligation as employees of ________ to support individuals and their careers based on their abilities as part of our __________ team. Each of us can be immensely impacted by an individual transitioning – by focusing on making it a positive experience, we all have the ability to gain from the experience. The individual transitioning may find support that provides retention and productivity benefits, and the other individuals involved can learn from the process and from the individual transitioning. A transition exemplifies characteristics that we can all learn from – courage, determination, overcoming challenges, creativity, and thinking outside the proverbial box. A gender transition is a challenge to acknowledge the person rather than the packaging. METHODOLOGY This document was created by reviewing other companies’ guidelines, having conversations with multiple people involved with transgender issues, and having discussions with __________ people at all levels. This topic is evolving in the businesses environment, including ________. Should you have questions, concerns, or suggestions for improvement you are encouraged to start a dialogue. This document has been created to open dialogue and help people through a potentially difficult and stressful experience. Its impact and effectiveness depends completely on the open and honest feedback of those who use it. Please email the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee to address any thoughts or comments you have. INTERNAL RESOURCES [Names and contact information for Diversity Committee, Diversity Manager etc.] EXTERNAL RESOURCES Equality Illinois www.eqil.org Gender PAC www.genderpac.org Gender Education & Advocacy www.gender.org Out & Equal Workplace Advocates Parents, www.outandequal.org Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays www.pflag.org Donna Rose - Transgender Consultant www.donnarose.com Transgender at Work www.tgender.net/taw 38 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES National Center for Transgender Equality www.nctequality.org Gender Dysphoria Association www.hbigda.org Human Rights Campaign www.hrc.org/workplace/transgender The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) http://www.glaad.org/ BOOKS “As Nature Made Him” by John Colapinto “Wrapped in Blue - A Journey of Discovery” by Donna Rose “Becoming a Visible Man” by Jamison Green FURTHER CONSIDERATION: JOB RELATED PLANNING FOR A GENDER TRANSITION These are the recommended steps in an on-the-job transition for a transsexual individual at ________. It may be appropriate to adapt this generic process to fit an individual person or a specific location. This planning document is to be used as a supplemental tool for the purpose of planning a transition. ADVANCE PREPARATION 1. The transgender individual meets with local HR representative(s). The individual shares his or her transgender status and intent to transition. 2. T he same HR representative(s) and the individual meet with the individual’s immediate manager to share the employee’s intent to transition (if the employee has not already done so). Additional Recommendation: HR representative(s) and immediate manager should meet with the area leadership for informing, garnering support and involving them appropriately in the announcement of the transition. 3. T he appropriate set of stakeholders should be identified to plan the transition. This will include the individual, his or her manager and HR representative(s). If necessary, involve others as appropriate, such as the Chair and Vice-Chair of the LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee. The stakeholders should become familiar with educational resources, including the Firm’s policy and books on the subject. • Consider which people in the Firm you may need to have engaged at some point during the transition and when they need to be engaged. • Consider any specific issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. 4. Plan the transition. Include solutions to the issues listed here: a. The date of the transition, i.e., the first day of the change of gender presentation, pronoun usage and name. Recognize that the date of the transition will be driven primarily by the individual’s situation and concerns. b. How individual’s collegues, clients and/or vendors will be informed of the change. Before the general announcement, the individual may choose to talk to some of his or her co-workers to disclose his or her plans on a one-on-one basis. c. Whether there will be an educational workshop (a “Transgender 101”) given to staff. d. What changes will be made to records and systems, and when. e. How the current policies against discrimination, harassment and benefits will protect this individual. f. How the dress code will be followed. g. The expected plan for use of gender-specific facilities, such as restrooms. h. Any time off required for medical treatment, if known. i. What Firm benefits are available to support the transition and effected by the transition. 5. M ake advance arrangements for name changes to be effective on the day of transition, so that nameplates, badges, etc. will be available on the first day. See the list in “The First Day of Full-Time Workplace Gender Transition” below. Consider how long certain HR functions take (e.g., legal name changes in human resource systems, company directory, etc.). A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 39 THE DAY OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT 1. H old a meeting among the HR manager, managers who work directly with the transitioning employee and any other person whom the individual directly interacts with often. Consider including non-local persons by teleconference. Also consider having the Firm’s guidelines or outside resource materials available to persons with questions. The transitioning individual should choose whether to be personally present at this meeting, depending on comfort level. While a face-to-face meeting is encouraged, some transitioning individuals may prefer an announcement in writing or by email. If the individual prefers a written approach, consider the following factors: a. The transitioning individual does not need to be in the meeting; b. A meeting has advantages because questions can surface and be addressed in an open forum and in a timely and sensitive manner; c. E-mail intended for a limited set of addressees can be forwarded to others. Even if marked in such a way that it cannot be duplicated or forwarded, it can still be pasted into another email; d. Communicating the transition can be sensitive, and the needs of the transitioning individual should ultimately guide the process. 2. T he manager of the department (or attorney, as appropriate) should make the announcement, in conjunction with the highest level partner in the group, to show support. The manager should: a. Make it clear that the transitioning individual is valued and has management’s full support in making the transition. b. Explain the Firm’s policy and recommendations. c. Stress that on the transition day, the individual will present him- or herself consistently with his or her gender identity and should be treated as such; for example, he or she should be called by the new name and new pronouns. d. Lead by example. Use the new name and pronouns in all official and unofficial communication. e. Make it clear that the transition is “no big deal” and that work will continue as before. f. Answer people’s questions. g. If a “Transgender 101” workshop is part of the transition plan, announce it. It should be offered before the day of transition. THE FIRST DAY OF FULL-TIME WORKPLACE GENDER TRANSITION On the first day of transition, the individual’s manager should ensure the following steps are taken, as they would for a new or transferred individual: 1. Issue a new identification badge with a new name and photo. 2. Place a new nameplate on door/desk/cubicle/workstation. 3. Update any organization charts, mailing lists and other references to the new name. 4. Follow-up on any incomplete name change related issues (email, etc.) as explained on prior page under “Name Changes” section. 5. The manager/partner should plan to be on site with the worker the first day to make introductions, support the individual, ensure respectful and inclusive treatment and make sure that work returns to normal after a few hours. 40 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES C APPENDIX C: Partner Benefit and Compensation Checklist q Health q Dental q Vision q Dependents’ medical coverage q COBRA/benefits continuation q FMLA/comparable benefits q Bereavement leave q Supplemental life insurance q Relocation assistance q Adoption assistance q Retiree health care q Pension plan benefits q Retirement benefits q Survivors’ benefits q Tuition Assistant to spouses and children q Counseling Services q Employee Discounts A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 41 D APPENDIX D: Best Employment Practices Objective Checklist q “Sexual identity” and “gender identity and expression” are included in firm’s non-discrimination policy. q Dress code policy is sensitive and respective towards transgender employees. q Diversity training is required and includes LGBT issues. q The firm makes financial and other contributions to LGBT organizations. q The firm actively seeks to employ LGBT employees. q The firm participates in local diversity career fairs and conferences. q A “gross-up” benefit is offered to employees with same-sex partners for adverse treatment by federal tax laws. q The firm provides gender transition guidelines documenting supportive firm policy on issues such as name changes, restroom accommodations, dress codes, and harassment. q The firm has an officially recognized diversity council or workgroup with a mission that specifically includes LGBT issues. q The firm has an officially recognized LGBT affinity group. q The firm sponsors LGBT community events. 42 | A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES A GUIDE TO LGBT-INCLUSIVE LAW PRACTICES | 43 ÂŠ 2012 Equality Illinois Equality Illinois is the stateâ€™s oldest and largest organization securing, defending, and protecting equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. www.EqualityIllinois.org 3712 N Broadway #125 Chicago IL 60613 773.477.7173 firstname.lastname@example.org facebook.com/equalityillinois