From Inclusion to Empowerment:How Thai businesses lead the change to become better trans allyship

March 31, 2023 – Bangkok: Equal access to employment and leadership is not a reality for transgenders across the world especially in Southeast Asia. According to World Bank & APTN survey conducted in 2018, 60% of Malaysian, 77% of Thai and 85% of Vietnamese transgenders have faced job rejection, discrimination and sexual harassment at work, as well as denied promotion to leadership roles due to patriotic systemic barriers, social stigma and gender bias stereotypes of “being not capable/credible/professional” and unfortunately being restricted to jobs only in beauty, media, entertainment and sex industries. The recent research by Williams Institute at UCLA in 2021 also showed that among LGBTQ+ people, transgenders suffer the most from all forms of socio-economic exclusion and they face three times more obstacles in unemployment than cisgenders especially during the pandemic. The underlying causes of this lack of transgender economic inclusion are intersectional, systemic and interconnected. Among various initiatives to tackle these issues, competency development and leadership mentoring program by business sectors are needed to provide equitable support that promotes greater transgender representation in various sectors, particularly in leadership roles to drive structural change.

On March 31, 2023 in conjunction with International Transgender Visibility Day, Transtalents Consulting Group with the support by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs launched the ASEAN first transgender mentorship and seminar program in collaboration with IBM, San Diego Pride, Sasin School of Management, ASEAN Youth Advocate Network and The Nation Thailand. The one-day hybrid mentoring and seminar program aimed to provide specific competency building on inclusive leadership, project and people management as well as career advancement through visioning for 44 transgender professionals across ASEAN to thrive personally and professionally. While the evening seminar on Inclusivity in action: Insights from Trans-inclusive ERG (Employee Resource Group) provided quantitative and qualitative data, insights from lived experience on challenges in the workplace as transgender employees in Thailand from Seagate Technology, ExxonMobil, LMG Insurance PCL, CED DD & Friend SCK, business cases for trans-inclusive workplaces as well as actionable recommendations on policy and practices to empower trans and diverse employees while helps develop sustainably the purpose-driven inclusive branding. The seminar was witnessed by 66 business leaders, HR and sustainability professionals across ASEAN who exchanged this learning session through interactive dialogue.

“To be a truly diverse, inclusive, and sustainable organization, inclusive leaders should reframe their vision to advance their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategies that address specific issues with an intersectionality lens in order to improve internal organization and scale impacts to the broader business community,” said Nikki Phinyapincha, founder of TransTalents Consulting Group, Thailand’s first LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace consulting firm. “To leverage the power of DE&I that creates an inclusive workplace environment in which all employees are supported, engaged, and empowered to succeed while maintaining their authenticity, the initiatives must be intentional, intersectional and measurable.”

In recent years, a few Thai businesses have started incorporating DE&I as their core strategies that improve tremendously business’s profit, people and purpose. Leaders play key roles for vision and change. “At IBM, we established our inclusive leadership model to train our management level as a priority group that includes awareness of bias, cultural intelligence, curiosity about others, humility, visible commitment, effective collaboration. This will enable leaders to understand the root cause of each specific issue before creating an inclusive culture the benefits to organizational performance” suggested by Jeiz Robles APAC Marketplace Diversity Leader, IBM. “If you have access to authority, you have a chance to change what matters such as inclusion and empowerment policies that get ahead of the curve on bathroom policy,” said Mark Maddox, Program Director of San Diego Pride. “Leaders should consider the three Qs on their leading change for a good work environment – IQ (intelligence quotient), EQ (emotional quotient), and LQ (love quotient).” Natcharat Polrop, a business consultant at DD & Friends SCK Co., Ltd. added.

Many studies showed that inclusive workplaces are more productive, innovative and profitable than those that are not. Business stakeholder including employees, customers, suppliers are nowadays more intergenerational and value brands that are aware of social issues. To start creating inclusive workplace, “leader should start introducing an ERG (employee resource group) to the company and let the employees give the ideas what is right to do. Your role is to support and empower them” said Cattreeya Thithiwongsawet, Asia Regional DE&I Leader, Seagate Technology. “Everyone is encouraged to speak out as thing won’t be fixed until you speak so the better thing can be changed for better.” Anamika Phiancharoenrat, payables analyst at ExxonMobil also added on how ERG works in her company. In addition, “company should also hire more LGBTQ+ in HR to reflect what LGBTQ+ people want and also source more LGBTQ+ talents within the relevant communities.” Wharinthorn Na Bangchang, Partnership Development Manager at LMG Insurance PCL highlighted a strategy to increase DE&I practices.

Another empowering initiative the business can think of is collaborating with external LGBTQ+ community or consultant for enhancing their corporate inclusive CSR and sustainability program. “As part of Sasin School of Management’s inclusion initiative (IDEAL), we partnered with TransTalents Consulting Group to learn insights, community conversation and support the effort for equality for the untapped trans talents that need representation in leadership role.” Dr. Drew B. Mallory, Inclusion Ambassador and Faculty, Sasin School of Management highlighted. “This is not a privilege or exclusive request but an equitable support to the marginalized group to break the systemic barriers while helping unlock their full potentials that benefits businesses and society. Let’s shift to the new paradigm from inclusion to empowerment, from bathroom to boardroom until we see more transgender future leaders or CEOs” Nikki concluded.
Through this initiative program, Transtalents Consulting Group and partners aims to drive impactful and meaningful socio-economic change by providing research-backed guidelines for businesses to succeed in advancement of inclusive organizations. Here are some key takeaways from the program for proactive business solutions;
Challenge in the workplace as a transgender

Discrimination and harassment: Transgender individuals are often subjected to discrimination in the workplace, ranging from verbal harassment to outright exclusion from job opportunities. This can lead to low self-esteem, decreased job satisfaction, reduced productivity and may leave the company.

Lack of supports and allyship: Transgender individuals often lack access to supportive policies and practices in the workplace. This can include a lack of gender-neutral language, bathrooms, insurance coverage for gender-affirming care, and protections against discrimination based on gender identity, leaders and colleague allyship including empowering programs to leadership roles.

Microaggressions and bias: Transgender individuals may also face microaggressions in the workplace, which are subtle forms of discrimination that can be difficult to identify. These can include misgendering, insensitive jokes, and questioning a transgender person’s identity.

Actionable recommendations on policy and practices to be a better trans-inclusive workplace

Develop trans-inclusive policies and create safe and inclusive culture: Review your workplace policies and procedures to ensure that they are inclusive of transgender employees. This may involve making changes to things like gender-neutral language, dress code, bathroom usage or gender-neutral bathroom, and pronouns used in company communications such as email, job application form, survey, etc.

Offer trans-affirming benefits and healthcare options: Make sure that your workplace health insurance plan includes coverage for transgender-related medical treatments and surgeries. Also provide resources and support for transitioning employees

Provide training and education on transgender issues: Educate yourself and your staff on transgender issues including microaggression and unconscious bias. Work with LGBTQ+ or trans-led consulting organization to guide and support the empowering program for better knowledge and practices. This will help create a more understanding and supportive environment for transgender employees.

Increase diversity in hiring and promoting to leadership role: Ensure representation in sourcing pool, train talents acquisition team to hire with sensitivity while providing equitable access to resource and network that can help empower transgender talents to become future leaders.

Foster a culture of inclusion and internal & external allyship: Engage internal employees to be a better ally while collaborating with other industry leaders and experts to scale your impacts externally by working with external trans community to understand needs and deepen knowledge and connection with relevant stakeholders

Benefits for business that creates trans-inclusive workplaces

Increased diversity: A trans-inclusive workplace can attract a wider range of talent, which can help businesses to better understand and cater to the needs of diverse customers. Whilst also benefiting from the clear business case for diversity and inclusion.

Improved morale and productivity: When employees feel supported, included and empowered, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged and productive at work. This can lead to increased productivity and higher job satisfaction.
Enhanced reputation: A business that is known for being truly inclusive and supportive of its employees and relevant communities is likely to have a positive reputation among customers and potential employees.

Attracting top talents: In today’s competitive job market, many job seekers are looking for companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion. By supporting trans employees, businesses can attract top talent and improve their recruitment efforts.

Meeting legal obligations: In many countries, including Thailand, discrimination based on gender identity is illegal. By supporting trans employees, businesses can ensure they are complying with legal obligations and avoid potential legal issues.

Inclusivity in the workplace is an important step in creating an environment of acceptance, respect and understanding for all genders. Empowerment is another next level, long-tern commitment to build diverse future leaders. Thai businesses have a unique opportunity to take the lead on this issue by implementing trans-inclusive policies and practices. By investing in training, awareness campaigns and offering greater access to resources, businesses can create a work culture that respects gender diversity and celebrates transgender employees. With these steps, employers can ensure their workplaces are welcoming places where everyone feels safe, accepted and empowered regardless of their identity or gender expression.

About Transtalents consulting group
Transtalents consulting group envisions to transform the future of inclusive workplace with LGBTQ+ economic empowerment to drive for a better socio-economic change. We offer strategic DE&I and LGBTQ+ empowerment consultation, innovative training and workshop, impact-focused collaboration as well as transgender professional leadership advocacy to help the businesses doing right on sustainable workforce development. To date, we collaborated with more 20+ organizations reaching to more than 150,000 audiences. For more information, please visit our website:


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