How do your staff react?

We like to think that the people we work with, those we have recruited and trained, will treat customers and business contacts appropriately. For the most part that is true and the more training they have had the better they will be. But sometimes they will react differently when something surprises them, something new or unusual.
The thing that is said to me most often when I talk to people about transgender awareness is how important it was to them to actually meet a transgender person and to talk me. The other comment I receive is that I am surprisingly normal. It dispells many of the preconceived notions people may have had beforehand. It also shows that in a work setting we all are just professionals working towards a common goal.
Despite increasing visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people it can still be a novelty for us to see someone in our own workplace. Reactions can vary considerably in this situation. Those who see us most often, such as in retail, usually understand that they simply have another customer. But in other areas it could cause issues that may result in a difficulty with either a potential customer, colleague or contractor.
I like to visit an organisation before giving one of my training sessions. It can be interesting to see how receptionists or front of house staff react and more valuable if I walk through office areas too. Even better is to arrange to formally visit either as a customer or visitor to gauge the way staff react when they realise someone unusual is present. Sometimes these visits are known as “secret shoppers” or “walkthroughs” and they can be very valuable when followed up by a training session on transgender awareness. Suddenly the training becomes less theoretical and much more real and relevant to those involved.

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