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Spotlight Interview – Samantha West and Ryden Ravenwood | Supporting Transgender People in the Workplace

Samantha West and Ryden Ravenwood 
15 April 2021 | Updated 29 June 2021
 

How can FM employers offer a more supportive environment for transgender people? We explore this with Samantha West, Commercial Director at VINCI Facilities and Ryden Ravenwood, Project Manager at JLL.

According to Stonewall, one in eight transgender people have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues in the last year because of being trans, showing that there is significant work to do when it comes to protecting and supporting this community.

Samantha West, Commercial Director at VINCI Facilities has spoken passionately about her own personal experience with gender dysphoria and her transgender journey. Working in the construction and facilities management industries for 30 years, West regularly speaks at corporate events, spreading the message that great benefits come to those organisations that embrace inclusivity.

It’s through a presentation to staff at global commercial real estate services company, JLL that inspired Ryden Ravenwood to meet Samantha and to begin his own transition journey.

Watch the interview with Samantha and Ryden below.

 

“For me, absolutely, it’s about educating people and making the support that they can tap into visible and accessible.” 

– Ryden Ravenwood

Project Manager, JLL

Watch the Spotlight Interview to Learn More…

 


 

Reflecting on their Transgender Journeys

 

In addition to the Spotlight Interview, Samantha West spoke to us about last month’s International Transgender Day of Visibility and reflects on her own journey:

“Last Wednesday on 31st March 2021 was International Transgender Day of Visibility. Of course, I had to post something on social media to mark the occasion and be visible! This year I was joined by Ryden Ravenwood of JLL who is also transgendered. The post read:

‘Myself in VINCI and Ryden of JLL are lucky. We are visible and respected in both our companies. Other transgender people are not so fortunate but with support and seeing others visible in the workplace this will get better’

 “Within 24 hours I had received 88 positive reactions with 2,500 views from a whole variety of people in both in and outside the property and facilities management industries. I also saw other transgender professionals post and receiving similar reactions.  This was extremely heartening and filled me with joy! 

The industry has come so far and understanding has much improved. Some of this is down to companies embracing good practices around transgender employees regarding: 

  • Recruitment
  • Supporting existing employees wishing to transition
  • Employee training
  • Senior management support
  • Supply chain requirements

 

Winning Hearts and Minds of Employees

 

“It’s also winning hearts and minds. And having a platform where someone can speak and be visible as a transgender person, to explain and ensure understanding, is critical.”

– Samantha West

Sector Commercial Director, VINCI Facilities

 

“But what really makes the difference is the winning of heart and minds of all employees in a given business and creating an environment or a safe space where transgender people feel they can be themselves and flourish. If the culture of an entire business is one of acceptance, fairness inclusion and respect for such an individual the fear be eased. The benefits to the business are that they will have a truly motivated employee adding real value to their business.

“It is important that businesses demonstrate that culture not only with formal policies and practices but with open conversations, events, agenda items in company conferences, inclusion in a business plan and regular communications internally and externally. This of course applies to all diversity in business too.

“After trans visibility day, I sat and reflected on all the things that had happened to me during my transition and how things had changed over time.

“The business created an environment that made me feel I could make the change.  When I finally arrived I had changed and it took time for some people to adjust which was unsurprising having worked with a number of them for 20 years as a man!

“There were lots of changes that happened initially: my looks, my vocals, and some of my vocabulary. At the time I felt elated that I had made the change but on the negative side, I wasn’t taken as seriously and some staff were uneasy with me

“All these feelings were partly inside my own head and not always caused by the actions of others

“On the positive side, I felt I had more empathy with others than before. I am grateful to the women who have embraced me into their world. Some of the guys were great too though! 

And now my transition is complete four years later, I get taken more seriously, my colleagues are now relaxed with me, I am gendered correctly, always and life is good.”

 

Picture: Samantha West and Ryden Ravenwood 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 April 2021

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