Why we use pronouns in our signatures

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.

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

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

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. Unfortunately, trans and non-binary people are often mis-gendered – 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) but we believe you will find a ‘virtuous cycle’ taking place as more people join you in this small, simple step.

An act of allyship

So why do we use pronouns in our signatures here at Inclusive Employers? 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. 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.

Such a simple act 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.

At Inclusive Employers we are committed to trans and non-binary inclusion. Read our trans inclusion statement here. You can also find out more about embedding trans inclusion in your workplace by booking onto our webinar ‘Tackling Trans Inclusion Further Than ‘Trans 101”.