You’ve probably seen people beginning to add she/her or he/him to their LinkedIn profile, email signature, or social media bios. Perhaps you’re not sure why. For cisgender individuals, gender pronouns may seem obvious. However, beginning the conversation around sharing your pronouns is a simple way to normalize not assuming someone’s pronouns or gender identity. This is a small technique you can use to create an inclusive culture at your organization. Here’s why sharing gender pronouns in the workplace matters.
The Importance of Gender Pronouns
If you’ve never thought twice about your gender identity, then gender pronouns may not seem important. Most people don’t see pronouns as a core part of their daily experience. However, for those who are transgender, non-binary, or gender nonconforming, it’s a way of ensuring that they aren’t constantly questioned, misgendered, excluded, or alienated.
Too often, society assumes how someone identifies and what their gender pronouns are simply by looking at them. To increase inclusivity, you should strive to ask for, remember, and use someone’s gender pronoun. This is the best way to support those you work with.
How to Ask for Gender Pronouns
Because gender pronouns are not part of our daily lives, you may feel awkward about introducing them into the workplace. Most of us don’t think about saying “Hi, my name is Julie. My pronouns are she/her.”
Yet, this is a perfectly normal and inclusive way to introduce yourself. So, if you want to normalize gender pronouns in the workplace, take the following two approaches.
Incorporate gender pronouns as part of an introduction
When you’re making an introduction in a group or doing an icebreaker at work, ask all participants to say their name, role, and (if comfortable) gender pronouns. If individuals choose to omit their gender pronouns, don’t push hard. Some people may be discovering their gender identity and aren’t sure which pronouns to use yet. In this case, you can default to their name.
If you’re having a one-on-one conversation, feel free to ask someone in a straightforward manner. “What are your gender pronouns?” or “Can you remind me of your gender pronouns?” are perfectly acceptable ways to ask the question.
How to Use Gender Pronouns in the Workplace
There are a few ways you can promote gender pronouns in your workplace as a means of inclusivity.
1. Request employees add pronouns to their email signature
As a company-wide action, ask that everyone includes their pronouns in their email signatures. This is the perfect reminder of inclusivity internally and also builds awareness externally.
2. Add pronouns to LinkedIn, Zoom, and Slack profiles
Adding your gender pronouns to any external platforms that your company uses is a great way to broaden your reason. It’s a visible part of your work life that helps signal to trans and non-binary people that they belong.
3. Incorporate them into in-person events
As noted above, gender pronouns can be used in introductions at in-person events. This helps to shift our mindset away from assuming anyone’s identity or pronouns. Have people introduce themselves using their pronouns and include them on any name tags you print.
Incorporating pronouns into your daily work life is a simple way to make those of different identities feel more included. For more education, online diversity and inclusion training can furthermore expand the use of pronouns in the workplace. Use the actionable tips above to promote change at your company.