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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December Harvard Business Review Features "When Steve Becomes Stephanie"

As I discussed a while back, the Harvard Business Review, one of the world's foremost business publications and read by business elites in every country in the world, is weighing in on transgender workplace issues this month. Every month, HBR contains a "case study," a complex fictional scenario designed to illustrate an issue that businesses face, inviting three industry experts to comment.

The December issue of HBR features a case entitled "When Steve Becomes Stephanie." The subtitle is "What does a star player's gender change imply for a traditional company's culture?" Readers are invited to comment online, and there are some interesting comments.

HBR has succeeded in bringing out transgender workplace issues to the world business community in a way that invites serious intellectual thought about how businesses can and should handle gender transition in the workplace, other than the traditional "you're fired" method. There were a lot of ways this project could have gone wrong, but HBR really did its homework.

At the same time, it should be recognized that the HBR case study does not, can not and should not be required to do all the work necessary to address the severe and systemic problems that transgender employees face. It is a giant step in the right direction, but it focuses on a star performer in a Fortune 1000 company earning megabucks. As some Bilerico readers have so cogently pointed out, few transgender people are so fortunate. Nonetheless, this is the perfect scenario to attract the attention of the corporate high-flyers who comprise HBR's audience. It's also an entertaining read.

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