Lloyds Banking Group has become the first UK organisation to extend its staff healthcare plans to cover gender dysphoria, in a move that campaign groups say more employers should emulate.
Staff at Lloyds Banking Group – which owns Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows – can now access gender reassignment surgery through their company health insurance policy.
A Lloyds spokesperson said: "Lloyds Banking Group has extended its private medical benefits service to include cover for gender dysphoria. The health and wellbeing of all our colleagues is of utmost importance to the group, and we are committed to providing them with increasing and inclusive support."
Claire Williams, director of inclusion and diversity at Inclusive Employers, welcomed the move. "I think it is a very important step forward, partly because it will enable some of the Lloyds employees to take advantage of the benefits they are now offering, but also because it gives such a strong message about the support Lloyds wants to offer.
“They are saying that there is a huge amount of talent they want to access, recruit and retain in the trans community and that they see this as one of the ways of achieving that objective. The more employers that can do this, the better."
It has been reported that around 20 employees are likely to take up the offer for private gender reassignment survey initially, which would see them receive a much faster service than through the NHS, where waiting times are in some cases up to 18 months just for an initial consultation.
A spokesperson from LGBT campaign group Stonewall said: "Lloyds Banking Group consistently shows commitment to equality and was named the second most inclusive employer in Britain this year by Stonewall.
"We know that not all trans people desire reassignment surgery, but there are many who do. Lloyds’ move to introduce gender reassignment surgery into its healthcare provision sends a clear message that the firm fully supports trans equality and its trans members of staff."
Totaljobs’ recent Trans Employee Experiences Survey found that more than one in three (36 per cent) trans employees have left a company because of discrimination. Of more than 400 trans individuals surveyed, 60 per cent had experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace, which was most likely to come from colleagues (38 per cent) and management (25 per cent).
A total of 43 per cent of respondents admitted to looking for companies with trans-friendly policies before applying for jobs.
"What is most important at the moment is that people are talking about trans issues in the workplace. Lots of employers have LGBT networks and do lots of work around the L,G and B, but very little around the T. Employers need to think about practical steps they can take to be more inclusive to trans employees," added Williams.
She said that while many employers see gender dysphoria as a minority issue, it was important for companies to get themselves organised and look at developing policies.
"It is much better to get organised now. Develop a policy, take some advice and then when it happens – and it will – they will be in a really strong position to help an individual transition as well as possible at work and that will have an impact on their business," she said.
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