We all likely learned in grade school that a pronoun is a word that replaces a noun in a sentence. Whether conscious or not, we frequently use pronouns when referring to others. Most often, we make immediate assumptions about the gender of another person when deciding what pronouns to use. However, this approach can lead to misidentifying someone. The experience of being addressed by incorrect pronouns can be hurtful and distracting in the workplace. Additionally, the experience of misidentifying someone can create workplace tension and lead to communication breakdowns.
While it can be difficult to navigate how to get pronouns right in the workplace, here are ways that individuals can contribute to change until systemic changes can be implemented:
Ultimately, we want systemic change and to shift the burden away from LGBTQ+ team members. Individual tactics will only go so far. When in a place of authority or leadership, here are ways that organizations can develop processes to create a more inclusive environment at work:
Creating inclusive workplaces is a continuous process that will require check-ins. In addition to the tactics above, organizations should find the balance of continually refining their processes. Incorporating policies around pronouns into your way of work is not a policy you implement once and walk away from. Identities change over time. Pronouns change over time. Invest in a feedback loop to ensure you are consistently providing a sense of belonging and safety for all team members.
On Wavely, you can chat directly with companies that are dedicated to DEI.