One of the main ways we can do this is by recognising and allowing individuals to express their chosen gender pronouns in a non-judgemental and inclusive way, especially in the workforce. 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.
It is important to remember that gender identity is not visible – it is an internal sense of one’s own gender. While most people align across their birth-assigned sex, their gender identity and their gender expression– some people do not. Gender is not neatly divided along the binary lines of “man” or “woman”, some people identify outside of the binary and may identify themselves as “non-binary”, “genderqueer” or “gender fluid” which are a part of the greater transgender community.
A culture that readily asks or provides pronouns is one committed to reducing the risk of disrespect or embarrassment for both parties and ensures everyone feels validated.
Here are 3 tips to help make sure we use correct pronouns:
Share your own gender pronoun
- Normalise the sharing of gender pronouns by actively sharing your own. You can choose to include them in your email signature, on your social media accounts or when introducing yourself to others. Normalising the sharing of gender pronouns can be particularly helpful to people who use pronouns outside of the binary.
Never assume another person’s gender or gender pronouns – simply ask!
- Gender identity is not visible so you can’t always know someone’s gender by looking at them, or seeing their name. Simply asking the question “can I ask what pronoun you use?” will make the biggest difference and shows our respect for others identity.
Avoid binary-gendered language
- Avoid addressing groups as “ladies and gentleman” or “boys and girls”, instead address groups using “everyone”, “colleagues”, “friends” or “students”. If you notice others using the wrong language or using incorrect pronouns then correct them.
Knowing and using a person’s correct pronouns fosters an inclusive environment, makes people feel valued and affirms their gender identity. If you would like to read more about how you can promote gender diversity please click here.
*LGBTQ+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus (all other gender identities)