Countdown has just launched a new transgender transitioning policy aimed at supporting transitioning team members across the country.
The policy outlines Countdown’s responsibilities as an employer and commitment to providing an inclusive environment, as well as the practical assistance available to team members who are transitioning genders. It is underpinned with information and support for managers to ensure transitioning team members feel comfortable, can be themselves and perform at their best while at work.
Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, James Walker, says as one of the largest employers in New Zealand, Countdown is continually reviewing its employment environment to ensure it meets the needs of all of its 18,000 team members. Last year Countdown was one of the first Kiwi employers to launch a Family Violence Policy. “We think it’s extremely important that we had a proactive and clear policy around our transgender team members because no matter your sex, age, ethnicity or gender identity, or sexual orientation, we want everyone to feel supported when they work at Countdown,” says Walker.
“We’re one of the largest employers in the country, and part of that responsibility is to ensure that we are leading our sector and are a great place to work. That means having formal support processes in place for our transgender team members when they need it, such as when they wish to be known by their new name, using toilets and changing rooms that match their gender identity, and ensuring they can take time off for medical care relating to transition.”
Support service for managers
Walker adds that Countdown has also included a proactive support service for managers of transitioning team members.
“A lot of the feedback we received from managers and team mates was worrying about using the right language with transitioning team members, or not knowing how to approach conversations or questions. We have several coaches who have extensive experience in helping people through the gender transitioning process, and can assist our leaders with potential conversations they might have with their teams.”
Tracee Nelley, President of Agender NZ says that this policy allows all employees of Countdown to have incredible support, backup and protection within their workplace, allowing them to continue with their lives as they normalise into everyday life.
“Countdown is definitely on the right track with the implementation of this policy and we can only hope that other companies see the importance and follow suit. We at Agender NZ support Countdown and are happy to be involved with such a forward thinking company,” says Tracee Nelley.
The Countdown Transgender Transitioning Policy has been introduced across all Countdown supermarkets, distribution centres, processing plants and support offices. Team members are entitled to:
- Be treated with respect
- The right to do their job free from harassment or discrimination, regardless of sex, age, ethnicity or gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Transitioning team members are entitled to take leave, using any leave entitlements they currently have, for any medical treatments while transitioning. Personal medical details do not need to be disclosed.
- Able to use a bathroom that matches their gender identity, at a time that’s right for them.
- Able to decide when they wish to be referred to by new pronouns e.g. his/her.
- Able to adopt a workplace dress code matching their gender identity, at a time that’s right for them.
- Free access to EAP, Countdown’s employee assistance programme, for nationwide confidential counselling and support.
- Working with managers to talk with teams.