Listing Pronouns is a Simple Step to Greater Inclusion
Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference
Much like the tulips that are beginning to pop up in parts of the northern hemisphere, pronouns have started to make more regular appearances on signature blocks and speaker introductions. Likely aided by the emergence of more frequent Zoom meetings, some people add their pronouns alongside their name.
Pronouns are how we refer to each other when using the “third person” format. Some examples are:
ze/hir (pronounced “zee” and “here”)
no pronouns (using the given name without a pronoun replacement)
Using pronouns correctly is a way to show respect for others’ gender identity. Further, as organizations continue to have more team members join from around the world, pronoun sharing is a great way to avoid assuming gender identity based on given names. Pronouncing each others’ names and using pronouns correctly builds an inclusive culture.
The appearances of pronouns remain somewhat infrequent. Even more rare is consistent inclusion across platforms rather than in just one (for example, in email signatures, Teams, Slack, Zoom).
Listing pronouns consistently across platforms like email, Zoom, Teams, Slack, or similar helps to build an inclusive community. More practically though, consistency across platforms makes it so people do not have to search in other places or directories to ensure they are using our correct pronouns.
As an example, I might introduce myself like this: “Hi everyone, my name is Rachel and my pronouns are she/her.” In this setting, people now know my pronouns and are not left to make assumptions based on my appearance or name. Making assumptions or purposely using the wrong pronouns is disrespectful, invalidating, and oppressive. These often are assumptions of someone’s gender identity and incorrect use has broader implications that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming individuals do not exist.
As a note, “they” is a grammatically correct way to refer to an individual. This may be someone’s pronoun (they/them) or can be used instead of assuming a pronoun. For example, I might refer to someone with “they” if they have not listed a pronoun in a signature block and our only communication was via email: “Jordan is going to send over that document today. They told me to expect it by the end of the day.” If I had the chance to interact with Jordan, I could ask for Jordan’s correct pronouns instead or perhaps Jordan would have told me. “They” can be more efficient, more inclusive, avoids assumptions, and is fabulous!
Pronoun use is an opportunity for growth as well. Sometimes people make mistakes. Generally, we can just correct our error at the time and move on. MyPronouns,org provides great resources and situation-based examples to explore on how to correct pronoun use mistakes.
If you are interested in learning more about pronoun use, here are a few short resources and what to expect there:
MyPronouns.org (a great resource for all things pronouns - what, why, how, mistakes, sharing, asking)
Tobia, Jacob. Everything you ever wanted to know about gender-neutral pronouns. Time. May 12, 2016 (a first person narrative description of the importance of pronoun use and answers to frequently asked questions)
Gender Pronouns. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Plus (LGBTQ+) Resource Center, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (why, common pronouns and pronunciations, and how-to guide)
Perhaps with the start of spring in the northern hemisphere and the corresponding fresh starts, we will see more pronouns springing up as well. This new beginning can be fabulous with fewer assumptions to build greater inclusion!
Are you enjoying The Write Climate? Please consider subscribing and sharing this weekly content within your networks!