June 20, 2024
The online job-search company, has introduced the relocation payment for transgender employees or those with transgender children, signaling a new front in the corporate pushback against state policies restricting the lives of LGBTQ people.

By Jeff Green | Bloomberg

Indeed Inc., the online job-search company, has introduced a $10,000 relocation payment for transgender employees or those with transgender children, signaling a new front in the corporate pushback against state policies restricting the lives of LGBTQ people.

While Indeed introduced the program to its employees in July, until now the company has not discussed it publicly.

Shortly after Indeed announced the initiative, Sam Burger, a 30-year-old senior content creator at the company who uses the pronouns they and them, left their hometown of Austin, Texas, for Denver, Colorado, a place they felt would be friendlier to those seeking gender-affirming care. The Indeed payment has gone toward a relocation that, they estimated, has cost them $5,000 so far.

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“As soon as I found out that I was getting the money, it was very much like a weight lifted,” Burger said, recognizing that many transgender workers don’t have the same options.

Traditionally, companies only paid such costs when they required an employee to move for a new job. By asking employers for financial assistance when moving for personal reasons — avoiding such things as state-level LGBTQ laws and higher taxes — Burger and others like them are flexing their power in what has been a tight labor market, corporate relocation experts say. None of the experts contacted were aware of another company that was taking the initiative and offering to relocate transgender workers.

Indeed’s policy could make it a target of conservative groups, who continue pressuring companies to moderate their support for LGBTQ causes. Target Corp. and Bud Light beer both faced protests this year, first from conservatives upset with transgender marketing programs, and then from the LGBTQ community for backing off those commitments following sales losses.

Maeve DuVally, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. communications executive and author of Maeve Rising: Coming Out Trans in Corporate America, which chronicles her experience of coming out as a transgender woman, said that companies choosing to follow Indeed’s example must be committed to the policy and prepare for backlash. “You certainly don’t want to backtrack,” she said.

More than 20 states have passed laws aimed at restricting gender-affirming care for minors, according to a tracking site maintained by LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. Texas, Florida, Tennessee and North Dakota are among the states that have passed the most new laws considered anti-LGBTQ, HRC said.

After Texas and Florida passed their laws, Indeed’s LGBTQ employees reported feeling uneasy about their personal futures in those states. Misty Gaither, Indeed’s vice president of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, said the company consulted with its business resource group for LGBTQ workers about how best to respond.

The company will cover any tax liability created by the $10,000 payment, which is considered income, Gaither said. So far, Burger is one of only a few employees who have participated. The relocation stipend matches the $10,000 annual limit for reimbursement for travel out of state for medical treatment, she added.

Gaither said the Texas-based company knows it could incur the wrath of state officials for introducing a policy that could be viewed as critical of their actions, adding that “this might not work for all companies.”

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Mark Woelfel, senior vice president of global client services at relocation company CapRelo, said that before the pandemic, “individual initiated moves” represented less than 1% of the business. Now such requests are as high as 10% of the business. Company stipends to help employees move for non-job reasons typically range from $5,000 to $30,000.

It’s not just out of Texas, either. Bill Mulholland, owner of ARC Relocation, said that in the past year one California-based company offered a paid relocation to about 50 workers to help them move to Texas for lower taxes. “We’ve never seen something like that before,” he said.

Since Indeed’s Burger moved to Denver with their dog and two cats, they’ve felt more welcome. They hope to have gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy, they said, adding that their new hospital has been much more accommodating than medical services in Austin.

And Indeed insurance will pay for all the costs, Burger said. “Folks want to work at a company that they perceive is taking care of employees,” they added.

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