It has become increasingly common for professionals of all stripes to include a line in their digital signatures, below their name or title, indicating which gender pronouns they use. It can read something like “he/she/his” or “he/them/their” and indicates how a person wants to be addressed other than their name.
For some people who are gender non-binary, or transgender, being the wrong gender can cause discomfort and anxiety.
“Being misgendered is a dehumanizing experience: It’s being reminded over and over again that you don’t exist as your gender in other people’s eyes,” said Kim Seitz-Cherner, co-founder of a tutoring cooperative that promotes gender equality. use “they/them”
Advocates stress how important it is that companies develop policies on the use of personal pronouns as part of their inclusion efforts, so that LGBTQ people feel safe at work.
More simply, it’s a matter of respecting everyone in the workplace.
“It’s good manners and decency — it’s a moral argument,” said Ricky Wilchins, an activist and founder of TrueEquity, an organization that specializes in gender and race training in the workplace.
It’s also good for business and recruiting efforts, experts said. Creating a safe and inclusive workplace allows employees to be more productive and creative.
“Another argument is that it has good business value. Diverse workforces are places where people want to work, and there’s good data showing that diverse teams perform better,” Wilchens added. “People don’t want to be in workplaces where it’s OK to discriminate against certain people.”
In an era of shifting gender norms, experts advise companies to develop and implement policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ people, including tranggender and gender nonconforming employees. Discrimination based on sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity, is illegal, and refusing to respect an individual’s choice of conscience can be considered discrimination.
“As with everything in the employment arena, employers are at risk of liability when they discriminate,” said Helen Rilla, a New York-based employment attorney at Wilk Auslander. “It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about ageism or sexism. It’s the same analysis.”
That said, an employer can prohibit workers from including their pronouns in their email signatures, but only if the policy is consistently enforced throughout the company.
“A company can say that it’s company policy that no identifiers are attached to emails. If a policy is applied across the board, it makes it more difficult to claim that an employer discriminated. What the heck,” Raila explained.
The supervisors set the tone.
Kelly Hughes, a North Carolina workplace attorney at Ogletree Deakins, acknowledges that the introduction of new pronouns and honorifics, such as they/they/theirs and Mx. Instead of Mr. or Mrs., can create confusion in the workplace.
“You need to have policies in place so you can train on those policies, and they need to be broad and cover inclusive terms, allowing for the use of gender-identified restrooms, and gender identity,” she said. Neutral dress codes,” he said. “There are areas where you can show cooperation and inclusion.”
Regarding pronouns, Hughes recommends that employers allow, but not require, workers to include their pronouns in their email signatures.
“Especially if company executives want to include pronouns in their signatures, this is a helpful way to signal inclusion,” he said. “But I think it’s really something that should be optional at this point because if you ask your employees to reveal pronouns, it can have a negative effect on them.”
“What can I help you with?”
Lily Zeng, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and author of “Gender Ambiguity in the Workplace: Transgender and Gender Diverse Discrimination,” has advice on how employers can start building a transgender-friendly workplace.
“First, talk openly and casually about trans issues to show that you have expertise in them. If the topic comes up in conversation, casually show you that he/she How is the pronoun used,” he said. “A lot of workplaces don’t do these things until they know there’s a trans person in the workplace, which I think is marginalized.”
If you instead create a workplace that is inherently transgender-inclusive, trans employees — or candidates — will know your workplace cares.
“Say, I want to make sure you feel respected at work, what can I do to help. You should do whatever they ask you to do,” Zeng said.
Tuition Collective’s Seitz-Cherner said companies have an obligation to support transgender and gender non-binary employees by educating their colleagues about the correct use of pronouns.
“Respecting people’s consciences is a matter of practice and behavior change; HR departments can offer coaching, incentives, and accountability systems to employees who want to change but struggle, so that transgender employees can continue to do their job. should not be continuously misrepresented, belittled or harassed in places,” she said.