Pronouns & Gender Identity—Ask, Don’t Assume!
Gender identity is our internal, individual experience of gender. It is directly linked to our sense of self and the sense of being male, female, both or neither.
While pronouns are pivotal to an individual’s gender identity and how they relate to the world and others, it is important to keep in mind that a person’s pronouns are not exclusively linked to gender and may not match your perception of that individual. Your assumption can leave a person feeling invalidated and dismissed. Taking the time to get to know a person better will help everyone feel more connected and respected.
Remember, mistakes happen and that’s ok! Acknowledge your mistake the same as you would any other—recognize, apologize and move on.
When in doubt, use neutral pronouns (they/them) when referencing someone until you have a chance to ask. Like with anything worth doing, practice makes perfect and your efforts will be appreciated.
Integrating pronouns into your office culture is simple. Adding one or all of the following will play a significant role in establishing your workplace as an inclusive space:
- Place pronouns on email signatures, business cards, staff directories and name tags.
- Start meetings with introductions that include pronouns, for example: “My name is Patrick. I am the Director of Sales and I use they/them pronouns.”
- Provide regular opportunities for staff to update their pronouns, if changes are applicable.
Putting pronouns into practice shows your commitment to building an affirming space for all types of identities and experiences. We encourage you to use and share these tips, solidifying respect as a main pillar of your office culture.