Diversity in the Workplace: Navigating pronouns in a professional setting

Diversity in the Workplace: Navigating pronouns in a professional setting

I’ll say it, I’m overwhelmed by buzzwords. It’s so difficult when really important causes become exhausted by an abundance of resources which replicate each other.

So, when a moghul like Instagram makes a huge active change such as a feature which enables people to share their pronouns in a simple and transparent way it really cuts through and reminds us of why this is so important. Especially in discussions of the workplace and how we can all contribute to making people feel more comfortable and safe in their daily environments.

And we’ll be honest, empowering businesses to create those safe spaces can be really difficult to navigate. There are so many complexities that we, as a group of cis-gendered people cannot fully understand, but we can continue to try. So, if you too are feeling overwhelmed, here are some active steps you can take to make people feel more comfortable in your workplace.

Firstly, why does it matter?

Well, if you’ve never had to think about your pronouns you’re probably not sure of why they are important. But by referring to people as the wrong pronoun you can instantly disassociate the person you are in conversation with.

By consciously making the effort to respect the identity of every person in your organisation you will contribute to a culture of inclusivity and nurture.

1. Use tech features to indicate your pronouns in order to make people feel comfortable enough to give you theirs.

LinkedIn as well as Instagram have a feature by which you can add your own pronouns. By making this small change you show your network, both established and prospective, that you are open to the conversation and that you will respect their identity.

2. Try not to assume people’s identities

Nobody is exempt from having done this and it’s a product of the societies we have grown up in. However, try not to assume how people identify based on their appearance or dress. Generally people will be happy to correct you and will not be offended but do make sure you take that onboard so as not to alienate what could be fantastic relationships.

3. React appropriately and correct yourself

If somebody does correct you, you needn’t be embarrassed. We’re all constantly learning about navigating new experiences and people understand that.

However it’s important to make sure that you remember to alter your behaviour going forward with those individuals or when meeting new people in the future. Mistakes are inevitable but intention is what people really see and value.