Until recently people have not often had to wonder what pronouns a person might use. It can be confusing and awkward to approach the topic of pronouns in the workplace, but it is important to make transgender and gender non-conforming people feel welcome and accepted in their place of work. Recently, people have become more comfortable using non-binary and neo pronouns to address themselves (i.e they/them, ze/hir). There are simple things that one can do in the workplace to ensure all employees feel comfortable and all pronouns are accepted.
- Include your pronouns in your work email signature, even if you are cisgender.
A simple way to make people feel comfortable using their pronouns in the workplace is to include your pronouns in your work email signature. An example of this would be:
Center for Career Development
This is a quick and easy way to state your pronouns without being prompted. The reason cisgender people need to do this as well is it can normalize the use of pronouns in email signatures. It can make it easier for transgender and nonbinary individuals to put their pronouns if it is normalized by others. It can also remove the awkwardness of feeling you need to ask somebody for their pronouns personally, which can be a situation that might make you or the person you are speaking to uncomfortable.
- Introduce yourself at meetings with your pronouns.
If you are comfortable doing so, it can be beneficial to introduce yourself at work meetings with your pronouns. Even if every person attending a meeting already knows your pronouns, it can be a way to normalize pronouns in everyday conversation. Alternatively, if you are running a workshop or a meeting at work, you can ask the members attending the meeting to introduce themselves with pronouns as well. This can set a precedent where people are asked in a group situation for their pronouns, rather than in a one-on-one situation which might be harder for some people.
- Print your pronouns on your nametag or business cards.
The Center for Career Development has recently started including pronouns on our official nametags. Generally, in situations where you are wearing a nametag you will be talking to people you do not know personally and who are not aware of your pronouns. It can make it easier for those around you to use your pronouns without having to ask. Once again, it is a way to normalize the use of pronouns in everyday events and interactions. If you decide to have business cards printed you can also add a line to include your pronouns and give this information to anybody who you hand in your business card.
These are quite simple ways to normalize the acceptance and use of pronouns in the workplace. It is important to remember that just because you think a person might use a particular pronoun, that that is not always the case. Approach pronouns with an open mind, and be respectful and understanding if mistakes are made.