Pronouns are an important part of a person’s identity. Using someone’s correct pronouns demonstrates respect and inclusion – something that’s essential for every human to experience!
Personal pronoun identity is a topic of growing importance as organizations seek to improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. That’s why today we’ll be sharing ways to include pronouns in the workplace and discussing how you can incorporate practices into your workplace to make everyone feel welcomed and accepted for who they are.
What Are Pronouns and Why Are They Used?
“Gender pronouns are the terms people choose to refer to themselves that reflect their gender identity. These might be he/him, she/her or gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them.” (The Conversation, 2021).
Simply put, pronouns are used to indicate to others how one would like to be addressed. Pronouns are often used by members of the LGBTQ2S+ community to encourage inclusivity and respect but are also becoming increasingly common among allies of the LGBTQ2S+ community and beyond.
Sharing pronouns with others enables a welcoming environment, free of judgement and eliminating the unknown. Pronouns are used to help create an environment of safety for everyone and to show that we openly accept people for who they are.
Tips for Using Pronouns in the Workplace
Create a safe space by encouraging sharing pronouns.
When everyone shares their pronouns, regardless of gender identity, it creates a safe and inclusive place for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community to share theirs and be their true selves. Here are 5 ways you can incorporate pronouns into everyday work life and make sharing pronouns the norm in your workplace:
- Add your personal pronouns to your LinkedIn profile.
- Include your personal pronouns on your Slack profile or other communication applications (e.g., Zoom).
- Incorporating your personal pronouns into your email signature.
- Share your pronouns at the beginning of an interview with a candidate. This opens the floor for them to share theirs if they’d like to!
- Break the ice with new hires during a “meet the team” session, where everyone can share their name and preferred pronouns.
Be aware of gendered language.
Gendered language can offend those who do not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Instead, use gender-neutral language and do your best to consider how you frame certain sentences (AKA think before you speak!). Some best practices of using gender-neutral language include:
- Using “they” or “their” wherever possible, as opposed to “his” or “her,” to be inclusive of people who may not identify with those pronouns.
- When referring to groups of people, avoid using terms such as “guys” or “ladies.” Instead, try using “everyone,” “folks,” “team,” “all”, ”y’all,” or “crew.” This ensures that everyone feels acknowledged, safe, and included.
- Refer to career titles in gender-neutral terms. For example, instead of “policeman”, try “police officer” or “police person”.
- When crafting job ads, make sure that you are using gender-neutral language. This encourages all qualified candidates to apply for that position.
Don’t make assumptions about what pronouns a person uses.
Misgendering and/or misnaming someone may leave them feeling disrespected, invalidated and/or dismissed. This can be distressing and may have a negative impact on their mental health. If you find yourself in a position where you’re not sure what someone’s preferred pronouns are, it’s best to use gender-neutral language to avoid inflicting distress or negative emotions on anyone.
One of the best ways to build an inclusive workplace is to keep learning. Be open-minded, ask questions where appropriate, and seek out reputable resources to further your knowledge.
Helpful Resources to Share with Your Team
- ADP: Best Practices for Using Pronouns in the Workplace and Everyplace
- My Workplace Health: Gender and Pronouns in the Workplace
- CPA Canada: Workplace Pronoun Etiquette
- APA: Inclusive Language Guidelines
Happy Pride! 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️
For support in building an inclusive workplace or if you’re interested in improving your DE&I strategy, get in touch! We’re here to help you and your team foster a safe and inclusive work environment for everyone.