5 ways to embrace inclusion with gender pronouns in the workplace

June 1st marks the beginning of Pride Season in Canada. Over the summer (June to September), Pride events will bring together 2SLGBTQI+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Plus) communities and their allies to highlight their resilience, celebrate their talents, and acknowledge their contributions. During the Pride season, there is increased awareness and visibility of gender diversity, and it becomes even more important to learn about and understand the importance of using correct gender pronouns to honour and respect people’s self-identified gender identities.

Using and respecting gender pronouns is integral part to creating an inclusive and affirming environment for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals within the 2SLGBTQI+ community. According to the US National Library of Medicine study, simply using the correct pronouns raises a person’s raises self-esteem and has a direct impact on their well-being and belonging. Asking for someone’s pronouns can be nerve-wracking, but it is a good practice. This way you will avoid relying on the idea that everyone you meet uses the pronouns that align with how they visually present themselves. Betterup.com has some advice on respectfully asking someone for their pronouns and what to do when you use the wrong pronoun.

Regarding workplaces, it is increasingly common for professionals to indicate what gender pronouns they use by adding them to digital signatures. It helps avoid assumptions and potential misgendering and creates a safe and welcoming space where everyone’s gender identity is acknowledged and celebrated.

Here are five reasons why using gender pronouns in the workplace is important:

  1. Inclusivity and Respect

Using the correct gender pronouns demonstrates respect for an individual's gender identity and reinforces an inclusive work environment. In addition, it acknowledges and affirms the diversity of gender identities beyond the binary of male and female.

  1. Promoting Psychological Safety

When we address individuals by their correct gender pronouns, it helps create a psychologically safe environment where they feel valued and accepted, leading to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and overall well-being.

  1. Avoiding Misgendering

Misgendering occurs when someone is referred to or addressed using incorrect pronouns that do not align with their gender identity. Misgendering can cause discomfort, distress, and feelings of alienation for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. By using the correct gender pronouns, we can avoid unintentionally causing harm or reinforcing stereotypes.

  1. Building Trust and Relationships

Using gender pronouns shows you are mindful and considerate of others’ identities, which can help build trust and more robust relationships among colleagues. It fosters a sense of belonging and encourages open communication.

  1. Leading by Example

By using gender pronouns correctly, organizations and individuals can set an example for others, promoting a culture of acceptance and inclusivity. In addition, it encourages others to follow suit, creating a positive ripple effect within the workplace.

Other important things to note about gender in the workplace

In the workplace, it is crucial to respect individuals' autonomy and never make it obligatory for them to provide their gender pronouns. While your intention may be to foster inclusivity, it's important to acknowledge that some people may not feel secure or comfortable sharing their pronouns due to past negative experiences, concerns about discrimination, or personal reasons. Therefore, it is essential to clarify that sharing pronouns is optional, allowing individuals to decide whether they feel comfortable doing so. Respecting their autonomy and providing a safe space for self-disclosure is key to promoting inclusivity and creating an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

More employers are setting clear expectations to ensure a diverse and inclusive work environment. It is important to reflect that in your job postings as well. Gender neutral job titles are a great place to begin. Creating a workplace culture that values and respects gender diversity helps foster an environment where everyone can thrive, attracts equity-deserving candidates and contributes significantly to employee retention and engagement.


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