From the Editor

Vicki LeeperPronouns may be some of the smallest words in the English language. Looking beyond how well they fare on a triple word score in Scrabble, we can see they are by no means insignificant.

Gender pronouns are words that refer to someone who’s being talked about. They neatly sum up gender identity in a small package. For transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming people, they represent the key to social acceptance.

They/them/theirs is probably the most common gender neutral pronoun and can be used in the singular. But how to use gender pronouns the right way in the workplace? The best practice is to behave as though there are transgender, non-binary or gender nonconforming people already there. Although no one is required to discuss their pronouns, employees should feel able to do so if they choose. You can ask new employees which gender pronouns they prefer, or encourage people to include their pronouns during intros. 

Start by sharing your own preferred pronouns, and encourage others to follow suit. You can add your gender pronouns to your email signatures and social media.

What if you make a mistake? If you get it wrong, acknowledge it, restate the correct pronoun (Sorry, I meant they) and remember for next time. The most important thing is to show you care about getting it right.

Gender pronouns lie at the root of supporting gender transitions and help create an environment where employees feel safe, comfortable and included. They announce someone’s identity to the world, so getting it right matters.

So stop, take a deep breath and ask. By asking, that will go so far to tell someone you care.

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