Online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos serves 26.7 million customers in more than 200 markets and in 10 languages. It employs about 3,800 members of staff, primarily from its head office in north London and customer care centre in Hertfordshire, as well as in Barnsley, Yorkshire; Lichfield, Birmingham; Berlin, Germany; and Atlanta in the United States.
Regarding support for staff who are going through gender transition, Asos says it focuses on building a working environment and culture that supports all employees to develop and grow, and allows them to be their authentic selves.
Daisy Black, head of belonging and engagement at Asos, explains that the employer’s goal is to open up conversations with the introduction of its Transitioning at Work Approach.
“This aims to provide reassurance to staff that should they wish to transition while working with us, their choices will be embraced and they will be supported in a way that works for them,” she says. “We’ve also provided management guidance on gender reassignment to help managers understand and talk to their colleagues and provide them with the support they need.”
The organisation also offers an exceptional leave policy that provides crucial support to those going through health-related life events, including gender reassignment surgery as well as pregnancy loss, menopause, fertility treatment and cancer treatment. It allows workers to take up to six weeks of paid leave in addition to their usual annual leave and employer sick pay provisions.
“This gives them the time they need away from work while also increasing awareness of the impact of such common life events, breaking down the taboos around these issues and taking time off when it is needed,” Black says.
All Asos’s policies are gender neutral and apply to everyone regardless of who they are or their circumstances. For example, its menopause policy recognises that not just cis-gender females experience the menopause.
Additionally, the organisation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, plus (LGBTQ+) network has fed into a glossary of terms to educate staff and managers on specific phrases and words relating to gender, helping to raise awareness of issues and challenges impacting the community so that it can keep improving support.
Overall, Black explains that the most important thing is to ensure staff are heard and represented through a culture of open conversations, as this will help businesses develop a package of policies that addresses and supports staff needs.
“We recognise that these situations are often not spoken about openly, despite the impact they can have on a person’s wellbeing and their ability to work,” she says.
“Offering these policies is just one of the ways that we’re driving a truly inclusive culture, where Asosers have the confidence to be whoever they want to be and are reassured that they will continue to be supported, personally and financially, throughout difficult times.”