COUNTDOWN, one of New Zealand’s biggest supermarket chains, has announced a policy of trans inclusion for its employees that LGBTI advocates have hailed as a “spectacular” step.

As reported in the NZ Herald, the company has promised trans employees support for correct name and pronoun use, the right to use facilities matching their gender, and the right to use leave for medical treatments during transition.

Employees will not be required to disclose personal medical information.

Training for team leaders to learn about supporting trans team members will also be available.

“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,” said corporate affairs manager James Walker.

At least two Countdown staff in Auckland are currently transitioning, and Walker said he would expect the proportion of trans people among the chain’s 18,000 employees to match the wider population.

“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,” said Walker.

“I think it is one of the most amazing steps forward for a large scale business in this country,” said Tracee Nellie, president of trans support organisation Agender NZ.

“Purely because of what we’ve had transgender people experience for so many years: people don’t want to know, they’re ostracised in their workplaces, they’re discriminated against horrendously.”

Agender NZ worked with Countdown to draw up the trans inclusion policy.

The new policy has been introduced across all Countdown supermarkets, distribution centres, processing plants and support offices.

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