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Transgender inclusion in the workplace: Building equitable and safe spaces

Employers carry a great responsibility towards ensuring a safe and inclusive work environment for transgender persons. A new policy report by Misum affiliated researcher Enrico Fontana marks this year’s International Transgender Day of Visibility by discussing social and workplace challenges faced by the hijra ‘third gender’ community in Bangladesh, and opportunities for employers to create transgender inclusive workplaces.

Creating transgender inclusion as part of the broader diversity, equity and inclusion agenda is a growing priority in the business community to help transgender persons improve their quality of life. Yet the global business community remains too slow in advocating for the rights of transgender persons and many companies fail to offer a work environment that enables them to experience safety. Transgender persons across the world continue to struggle to be recruited, to find training opportunities and to access safe workspaces where they can freely express who they are. This is particularly the case for transgender persons living in countries of the Global South with lower gross domestic product per capita.

A new policy report published by Misum affiliated researcher Enrico Fontana marks this year’s International Transgender Day of Visibility by looking at the social and workplace-related struggles faced by the hijra community in Bangladesh. Hijras are persons from the South Asian subcontinent often described as third gender who live beyond the binary rules imposed by society. Hijras derive their name from the hijra culture or hijra community, whose ancient origins come from Hinduism.

The report looks at the challenges that hijras face today and offers insights into how employers can play a role in overcoming these challenges by creating a safe, inclusive work environment. Read the report here.

I hope this report will provide an additional opportunity for employers and the broader business community to learn more about the challenges faced by hijras in Bangladesh, and so advance dialogues on how to address these challenges. I also hope that the recommendations in this report will serve as a catalyst for action to draft legal, policy, and social reforms that will support hijras to achieve equitable hiring and employment opportunities.
Enrico Fontana, PhD

About the author

Enrico Fontana, PhD is a senior lecturer of sustainable business at Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom. He is an affiliated researcher at Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden) and a visiting fellow at Sasin School of Management (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand). His research focuses on addressing social and environmental challenges in South and Southeast Asia.

This report was written in collaboration with the Bandhu Social Welfare Society and is the result of ongoing research conducted with hijras in Bangladesh.


Enrico Fontana, PhD

Image by Aneet Singh/Unsplash