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On Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrating Avanade Australia’s Gender Transition Leave

  • Posted on March 31, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

In December 2020, Avanade introduced our new Gender Transition Leave benefit, available to all employees in Australia. The policy includes, but isn’t limited to, accessing medical surgery, hormone replacement therapy or initial non-invasive transitioning.

The benefit is part of Avanade’s ongoing commitment to supporting our LGBT+ employees and creating a safe, inclusive working environment where all employees can express their individuality at work without fear of discrimination. As March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility, we thought we would take this opportunity to discuss how this policy came to be, why it is so important to Avanade’s values, and how it moves us along the path of visibility.

From our earliest conversations to the announcement of the policy, it took about a year to make Gender Transition Leave a reality at Avanade Australia. It began with an inclusion & diversity benchmarking program we participated in called the Australia Workplace Equality Index. One of the things on that index was transgender leave policies, and we saw that and thought, “That seems like something we could make happen. Let’s see what we can do.” We started having conversations between I&D and HR, and everyone was totally on board.

The next step was to look at the business case. This was a little tricky because there aren’t a lot of statistics or metrics available for the transgender community. It’s not ethically responsible to track those metrics, but some organizations do so by granting anonymity. We transposed rough calculations of population percentage on the number of Avanade employees and determined that there would be a minimum number of employees that would utilize this investment each year. That’s taking into consideration that there are all sorts of avenues to transition. But we were looking at a minimal investment from a business perspective that results in a maximum return on that investment because this sort of benefit is so huge to the transgender community. There aren’t many organizations that provide it, and to our knowledge, we’re one of the first in Australia to do so.

The business case made sense to our finance team and our executive leadership team were really supportive. Since we launched the benefit late 2020, the response has been outstanding. Both internally with our employees and externally from our partners, everyone has been thrilled that we’ve made this progressive step. We’ve had engagements with Avanade teams in Brazil and Europe about enacting it there, as well as conversations about taking it global.

To see this benefit become a reality shows that Avanade is trying to be on the front lines of progression and making a human impact. Our organization has always prioritized taking care of our people, and this is a natural expansion of that to acknowledge that there are communities that face oppression and need support. We believe that Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) is imperative for a successful organization, but I&D doesn’t just mean that everyone is just nice and smiles at everyone in the workplace. Inclusion and Diversity is about actually having the benefits and policies in place to create an inclusive workplace and show employees we are willing to invest in them and care about who they are as people.

So much of I&D is about education – about raising awareness and combating unconscious bias. The next step after that is taking the awareness and transitioning it into action, and that action in turn promotes more awareness. It’s a cycle of growth, and that’s why the idea of “visibility” is so important: It’s what got us here.

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