Why we use pronouns in our email signature

It has become more prominent in recent years to see pronouns being used in email signatures, online meetings/webinars and social media profiles. If you are less familiar with the LGBTQ+ community, or if you don't have to think about your gender regularly, this may be unusual to see and could initially be a little confusing and/or difficult to relate to.

If you’re thinking, should I put pronouns in email signatures? Keep reading to find out more about what it means and why it matters.

Our colleague Steven Taylor, Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, explains why we share our pronouns in our email signatures at Inclusive Employers.

Why put pronouns in email signatures?

So, firstly, let’s start with why do we use pronouns in our signatures here at Inclusive Employers? 

Well, to not only show support and solidarity for our transgender and non-binary friends in our acceptance of all genders, but to hopefully ease the burden on our trans and non-binary colleagues and acquaintances from having the same conversations again and again. 

Being an ally every day is important, having pronouns in our signature can set a norm and encourage others to do the same.

As a society, we are making others’ lives easier by declaring our pronouns, letting people know how we identify to eliminate any confusion and therefore minimising the chance of anyone being misgendered or “outed”, with no risk or burden whatsoever to the cisgender community.

An act as simple as adding pronouns to email signatures can lead us on the way to normalising pronouns and by doing this we can hopefully make the world a more accepting and inclusive place for all. 

The importance of pronouns in email signatures

Email signatures are a way of showing people your name, how you want to be referred to. It’s a way for the person receiving the email to understand the preferred way for them to address you. 

By adding pronouns into your email signature, it shows the person receiving the email which pronouns they should use when referring to you and talking to you directly.

Alongside this, it also shows that the company is making an effort to be inclusive. However, it would be wrong to assume that if someone doesn’t have their pronouns in an email signature that they are not focusing on inclusion. For many people, they may not be ready to declare their pronouns and it is a highly sensitive and personal decision. 

Where to put pronouns in email signatures

If you’re looking to put pronouns in your email signatures, it’s completely normal to not know where to put them. Especially if your email signatures are already quite busy and crowded. 

The best place to put pronouns in your email signature is right next to your name. Here are some examples on how to list pronouns email signatures:

  • Your Name Here (She/Her) 
  • Your Name Here 

Pronouns: He/Him/His

  • Your Name Here  (They | Them | Theirs)

If you control the email signatures for your company – you need to ask who feels comfortable having their pronouns in their email signatures and sharing them with you. 

An efficient way to do this is by a survey – you can ask people to submit their pronouns they’d like to show in their email signatures and give them the option to say they do not want to include or disclose their pronouns. 

Understanding gender privilege

When pronouns began to become more visible in the workplace, this sparked discussions and questions from my cisgender friends such as “why do we need to put pronouns in our email signatures too?” 

A cisgender person is someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth, e.g. someone who identifies as a man and was identified as male when he was born. 

While their questions did not come from a malicious place, they did come from a place of unrealised privilege.

Privilege (or lack of) is something we all have to varying degrees. I know that there are areas of my life or situations where I may have more or less privilege than others. 

By acknowledging and recognising that privilege, it has helped me to understand the importance of speaking out in situations where I do have privilege, where I can hopefully make a difference, continue these conversations and be even more of an ally to the trans and non-binary community.”

Recognising non-gendered pronouns

Up until recently, the only pronouns most people had heard of were he/him/his and she/her/hers. However, as the non-binary community has become more visible, more and more people are becoming aware of non-gendered pronouns such as they/them/theirs & ze/zir/zem. 

Unfortunately, trans and non-binary people are often misgendered – and at times deliberately.

Adding our pronouns to our email signatures, social media profiles and stating them at the start of meetings is a simple step cisgender people can take to enable those from the non-binary and transgender communities to feel more seen and recognised. 

We’d like to encourage you to do the same in your organisations and on your social media profiles where you can. 

This is not something that should be mandated (for instance you may have trans colleagues who do not feel able to share their pronouns yet) and it can be harmful to introduce a pronouns in email signature policy, but we believe you will find a ‘virtuous cycle’ taking place as more people join you in this small, simple step.

How Inclusive Employers can help

At Inclusive Employers, we are committed to trans and non-binary inclusion. Read our trans inclusion statement here.

If you’re considering adding pronouns in work signatures, but don’t know where to start with introducing this – we can help. If you’re a member, contact your account manager. If you’re not yet a member, get in touch today to see how we can help you.