For Bob Oswaks, the owner of Bob’s Well Bread Bakery , the idea of hiring transgender people to work at his bakery isn’t even a question.
“I think we operate a business that is inclusive of all people,” Oswaks said.
In fact, he already employs people who identify as LGBTQ — or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. He believes employees should be judged on their skills and not their identity.
“I think we need to get to a place and a time in our society where we’re hiring people, you’re hiring the best person for the job and paying them a fair living wage and it doesn’t matter if they’re male, female, or black, white, brown, Asian or LGBTQ,” Oswaks said.
Not all restaurants are like Oswaks’ however, the unemployment rate for transgender people is double that of the general population.
“And if you’re a transgender person of color you’re four times as likely to be unemployed and you’re bullied out of school, you’re bullied out of work and in some cases you’re bullied out of the home and essentially bullied out of opportunity,” said Kaite Nova of GRACE (Gay Rights Advocates for Change & Equality.)
She says that there are people who identify as transgender in Santa Maria but many of those people do not involve themselves in the general population because of the discrimination they face on a regular basis.
The California Restaurant Association wants trans people to have those opportunities which is why they’re offering workplace incentives through the California Trans Work Project. The program offers workplace incentives to restaurants that hire transgender people, including 50 percent reimbursement for the first 120 hours of an employee’s training .
Oswaks hopes that, regardless of the incentives, more business owners will be open to the idea of hiring transgender people.
“Businesses need to recognize that we live in a diverse world, we operate in a diverse community and we need to be inclusive of all people regardless of their gender identification,” Oswaks said.