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Using Preferred Pronouns for an Inclusive and Welcoming Space

inclusive as possible teamwork at sunset mountaintopIf you receive an email from Marketing Messages, you may notice something different. We have begun adding our gender pronouns (he/him, she/her, etc.) to our email signatures, joining in with a growing number of companies taking similar steps in an effort to be as inclusive as possible.

Recent studies have found that as many as 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ, with a growing number of individuals rejecting traditional gender binaries.

Honoring and respecting a person’s preferred pronouns is one of the easiest ways to show support for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. Services like OK Cupid and Lyft have increasingly given their customers the ability to make preferred pronouns part of their profile, while Oxford English Dictionary and the AP Stylebook have expanded to use “they/them” as an acceptable singular identifier.

Per a recent article on the subject in Oprah Magazine (link below):

Non-binary and gender non-conforming people have identities that fall in-between or outside of the man-woman gender binary. And they often use gender neutral pronouns like they/them instead of he/him or she/her. You may also see some individuals use ze/zir. In addition, there are gender-neutral titles like Mx. instead of Mr. or Mrs.

Other best practices outlined by the article include:

1) If you don’t know what pronoun to use, listen first.

2) Don’t single out transgender and non-conforming people.

3) Know that it’s OK to make mistakes. When you realize one has been made, apologize quickly and move on. Avoid making a big deal out of the situation.

4) At meetings and events, set an inclusive tone.

5) Avoid gendered language. Words like “sir” and “madam” can be eliminated from salutations.

6) Consider accommodations for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

None of these practices, or including pronouns in email signatures, is the only solution towards making the workplace as inclusive as possible. But they are all small steps that we can make as compassionate and empathetic people to make sure that our co-workers and customers feel welcome and safe in business and in life.

At Marketing Messages, our mission is always one of communication and clarity, and we hope that with even these small gestures we can communicate, clearly, our support for a more inclusive business world, and a more inclusive world even beyond that.

For more information on the importance of respecting pronouns, you can read the original Oprah Magazine article here.