You may have noticed many people have started to use their pronouns on social media and in the office. But why is this, and just how important is it to understand?
What are pronouns?
Pronouns are third-person pronouns that an individual chooses to be referred by to indicate their gender identity. Some examples of pronouns are:
Judging a person by their appearance is not an accurate or inclusive way to identify someone’s gender identity. Additionally, almost one-third of non-binary people and one in five transgender people feel unable to wear work attire representing their gender expression—a result of continual oppression and miseducation around LGBTQIA+ issues in the workplace.
Why are they important?
Hate crime is on the rise. The Human Rights Campaign reported that 2021 was the deadliest year for trans and gender-nonconforming people, with 57 fatalities tracked. In 2022, 11 trans and gender-nonconforming people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means.
Using someone’s correct pronouns is a way to respect them and creates an inclusive work environment. Furthermore, using incorrect pronouns is a form of bullying and even harassment, especially when you have been made aware of their correct pronouns.
How to approach pronouns at work
Using someone’s pronouns will make them feel safe and respected. Building a safe environment is crucial to the wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ members. Using your pronouns in and around the workplace can help normalise using pronouns and break down stigma within the community.
It can be daunting to approach an individual and as their pronouns. However, it is vital to ask when meeting new people to understand their identity and minimise any wrongdoing. You can do this during interviews or in person with people you know well. Be sure to approach these questions with care and compassion. Additionally, remember people do not have to share their pronouns with you if they do not wish.
In essence, using someone’s pronouns respects them and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a great way to show that you are an ally and increase workplace wellbeing, employee engagement and overall LGBTQIA+ employee experience.
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