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Best practices for promoting a gender pronoun-inclusive culture in your workplace

Posted by Grace Townsley

July 26, 2021    |     2-minute read (585 words)

Encouraging and welcoming the use of gender-inclusive pronouns is slowly beginning to become the norm among companies. With mass quitting a new reality and thousands of companies trying to fill an astonishing 9.2 million empty roles, many companies are promoting a gender-inclusive environment to both boost employee retention and stand out in the job market. 

  According to a Human Rights Campaign study, having an LGBTQ+ inclusive environment improves employee performance, productivity, retention and mental health. And since a growing number of young, Gen Z (ages 6-24) talent strongly value and seek out inclusive environments, building a pronoun-inclusive company culture will be increasingly important for companies hoping to grow. 

  What are inclusive pronouns?

  While gender has traditionally been defined as male or female, some individuals’ personal expressions vary from these gender norms. Employees who are non-binary and do not identify as simply male or female may choose to use other pronouns like “they, them, and their.” A survey of 1,000 millennials found that 50% feel “gender is actually a spectrum, and that some people fall outside conventional categories.” This finding reveals that inclusive pronouns will increasingly become the norm. 

  Best practices for a pronoun-positive workplace

  If you’re a business leader hoping to promote a gender-inclusive environment in your company, here are a few best practices to follow in order to avoid the most common missteps. 

  Don’t mandate the sharing of pronouns. Requiring employees to disclose their pronouns in their email signature, on company social pages, or in their bio can be hurtful. Some individuals are not ready to disclose their pronouns, prefer to conceal them, or are still unsure of them. Requiring your team to disclose therefore will cause more harm than good. 

  Mandating also stops voluntary progress. Once anything becomes required, individuals tend to halt their learning and growth in the area because there is no longer a choice to consider. For business leaders who hope their workplace culture is LGBTQ+ inclusive, any kind of inclusive requirement simply becomes restrictive instead of welcoming. 

  The best practice in this area then is to create an environment where disclosure is optional, and expression is safe. 

  Provide training. Misgendering is when a person is identified by a pronoun other than the one that aligns with their affirmed identity. And it can easily occur in a work environment that does not offer LGBTQ+ gender-inclusive training. Effective training helps build an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing and expressing their identity. It also gives LGBTQ+ allies the opportunity to better understand how to be inclusive and welcoming. 

  As a business leader, the best method of training your team is up to you. If you’ve seen success in your company through using interactive videos or bringing in a guest speaker, you might consider working with an organization like the Ackerman Institute for the Family, which offers a variety of trainings on gender-inclusivity. Providing additional training for your key leaders, team managers, and hiring managers can also go a long way in promoting a positive environment. 

  Key takeaways

  It is becoming increasingly important for businesses to create a safe space for gender-expression. With more Gen Z workers entering the workforce every day, seeking companies with inclusive values like their own, businesses must adapt quickly to stand out. 

  Business leaders hoping to create a healthier work environment can do so by offering inclusion trainings and encouraging, but not mandating, the use of gender pronouns. 

 

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