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Interventions

Communication Research and Practice

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Edited By Adrienne Shaw and D. Travers Scott

This volume brings together a range of papers that fruitfully engage with the theme of the 2017 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in San Diego, California: Interventions. Here "intervention" points to a range of communication practices that engage with a political event, social phenomena, industrial or socio-cultural practice, in order to alter and disrupt events and the norms and practices that contribute to their occurrence.  Interventions prohibit events from proceeding in a "normal" course. Interventions approach or critique practices and phenomenon resulting from tensions or absences occurring in: events, structures, (institutional governmental, media industry), discourses, and socio-cultural and subcultural events. Intervention presents the opportunity to explore boundaries, assumptions and strategies that appear to be different or irreconcilable, viewing them instead as possibilities for productive engagements. Communication interventions—in both research and practice—insert insights from diverse voices, marginal positions, emerging organizational practices and digital technologies, to broaden and enrich dialogue. Interventions bring complex reframings to events and phenomenon. Interventions seek to alter a course and effect changed practices in a range of spheres: governmental and social institutions, cultural and nongovernmental groups; industry and organizational life, new media and digital spaces, socio-cultural environments, subcultural groups, health environments, affective and behavioral life, and in everyday life.

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11. From Company-Mandated Equality to Employees’ Perceived Equality: How Internal Public Relations Make a Difference to Transgender Employees (Bethany Grace Howe)

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11. From Company-Mandated Equality to Employees’ Perceived Equality: How Internal Public Relations Make a Difference to Transgender Employees

BETHANY GRACE HOWE

Transgender people are a small but increasingly recognized minority in America, with implications for transgender people, their allies, and critics, and perhaps nowhere more so than in the 21st-century workplace. Advances here for transgender people are clear: Federal law, though currently under review, recognizes their right to be treated equally, while more corporations than ever specifically include transgender people in their diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies, usually specifying gender identity as a protected class of employee (HRC, 2015a).

Still, many transgender people do not feel safe in their workplace to be themselves (HRC, 2015b). The aspirational level of equality found in many corporate policies often does not manifest itself at the employee level, leaving employees feeling abandoned by the very organization that claims to support them (Sellers, 2012). What, then, distinguishes these companies that practice what they preach from others?

This study, based in feminist and queer theory, of one transgender-friendly Fortune 500 company, seems to provide some answers. For whether it’s using internal public relations (IPR) to deliver the message that being other than cis-gendered is a company norm (Gedro & Mizzi, 2014), or changing the way even commonplace workplace duties are considered and implemented (Butler, 1999), the company studied is changing the way transgender and cisgender people relate to one...

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