Transgender Policy Breakthrough in the Legal Profession
Irwin Mitchell a well-known law firm in the UK has recently put in place a new legislation that aims to create a work environment that is free from discrimination and victimisation based on gender or sexuality. A spokesman for the firm stated that they were addressing a longstanding issue that ensure that staff at Irwin Mitchell ‘’are free to be themselves at work.’’
Whilst some critique new policies as being too politically correct, many agree that these steps are vital in allowing transgender people to feel comfortable in their work environment. In recent studies, prominent lawyers such as Wesley Gryk have expressed their discontent towards the past treatment of members in the LGBT community within the legal profession, and have stated that the new acceleration in rights for the LGBT community has aided a reform in the attitudes within major law firms today.
Institutions such as Harvard have also stated that 73% of closeted gays at work are likely to change jobs, and charities such as Stonewall have said closeted members of the LGBT community are 30% less productive due to fears and insecurities. This is not great for businesses and it’s not great for those individuals.’ Therefore these new policies are important in breaking through the barriers that exist for LGBT people.
The new policies confirm the firm’s attitudes towards supporting transgender employees, and ensuring that they have the same opportunities that all other members of the law firm currently have. The policy is to be put in place before Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November, which is a date that honours the lives of those who had fought against anti-LGBT violence.
From a legal standpoint these new policies are in alignment with the Equality Act (2006) and the Equality Act (2010) which made public institutions legally obligated to take harassment or discrimination on transgender and transsexual people more seriously than what was previously practised.
Irwin Mitchell is known for its accommodating and acclimating attitudes, and for its work, it is in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. The firm believes encouraging and fully supporting their employees, leads to better productivity and an overall better service for its clients. Further accolades that the firm has collected in recent years for their work in equality and unity are being shortlisted for the 2015 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion category at the Law Society Awards, and being ranked within the top 100 by the Stonewall Equality Index.
Whilst many praise these new policies, some are quick to comment on the reasoning of Irwin Mitchell, and why they need separate policies specifically for transgender people, especially considering the pre-existing policies on discrimination and harassment. Furthermore, some say that these moves are following a trend of more politically correct, virtue signalling policies.
However, it is important to note that these new policies are a catalyst to change for all minority groups and in this way they are a sign of positive change for the entire legal industry.