Getting Pronouns Right Matters

Pronouns are an integral part of a person’s identity and beliefs, and putting in the effort to use someone’s correct pronouns is important to creating a Culture of Belonging. Yet, we often assign pronouns to individuals, using assumptions based on appearance, name, or some other factor.  

When any of us share our pronouns by listing them in email signatures, Zoom, LinkedIn and other venues, it begins to normalize the process of sharing pronouns.  We can also share our pronouns as part of our introductions: “Hello my name …. My pronouns are ….”  This can help serve as an invitation to others who wish to share their pronouns, though it is important to never force anyone to share their pronouns.  

We can also try to use inclusive language that removes the needs for pronouns as much as possible. Many individuals worry about situations where they make a mistake with someone’s pronouns. Apologizing genuinely and correcting your own mistake and moving on is usually the best way. If someone else makes a mistake, gently correcting them could be an option, though other options include modeling using the correct pronoun yourself. 

Using an individual’s correct pronoun sends a message of seeing their whole self. Actively choosing to not use their correct pronoun can be both hurtful and offensive and send messages of exclusion. Putting in the effort to use the correct pronoun is an act of caring that will create a culture of belonging in our workplaces.   

What we can do: