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Why Are Pronouns So Important in the Workplace?

Why Are Pronouns So Important in the Workplace?

Pronouns have become much more significant in our society as education has become more readily available. Organizations must understand why pronouns are so important and what HR can do to ensure company culture is positive and inclusive. Continue reading to learn more.


Why Do Pronouns Matter?

Acknowledging a person by their correct gender goes beyond understanding and opinion; it is all about respect. When we refer to people by their correct gender, we show them we respect them as people. It is all a matter of allowing a person to feel comfortable and at ease in the workplace. 

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 1.6% of individuals identify as transgender or nonbinary, equating to nearly 5.2 million Americans. Thich is even higher for those under 30—at almost 5%. These numbers may even be higher, with many individuals unable to express their gender identity. 

Individuals who identify as a part of this group often face unnecessary judgment and criticism, which can lower their quality of life. When these issues are brought into the workplace, it can make for an uncomfortable and even hostile environment. 

This is why it is so crucial for HR to understand pronouns. When you refer to someone by their incorrect gender, you express that you lack respect for them as a person. 


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How Can HR Support LGBTQ+ Employees?

HR should be preemptive in cases of discrimination. This is especially true with those who identify as LGBTQ+. This means they should formulate systems before issues or concerns arise. Gender identity is an area that could easily lead to discrimination. It would be prudent for HR to create measures even if there are no known transgender employees within the organization. 

HR can impact the culture by encouraging all employees to include their pronouns somewhere, such as in email signatures or on communications platforms like Slack or Google Chat. This will allow any current or future employees identifying as transgender to express their gender safely and comfortably. 

Of course, if you know an employee who has transitioned, you may accidentally refer to them by using incorrect pronouns out of habit. When this happens, be sure to apologize and reassure the individual that you are working to remove that habit and form a new one. 

Individuals who transition are on a journey that those who have not transitioned will not fully understand. But this does not mean you cannot be supportive and respectful of their journey. You can best support these individuals by helping them to feel comfortable and accepted. Using their correct pronouns is one of the best ways to do so.

Some of your employees may need to be more educated in pronouns. If this is the case, setting an example is one of the best ways to educate. 


How Can HR Implement Effective Systems?

HR should first create training courses or educational materials to be made available to all employees. Resources can make a significant impact on the culture of an organization. How can HR hope to form a more educated culture if employees don't have access to resources? 

Organizations can implement Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies to encourage open conversation and continued acceptance for those who identify differently. This might include creating digital content or gatherings to help educate employees and support them in various ways. 

Some organizations include gender identity as a critical part of their non-discrimination policies. This allows you to provide protections for sex identities at a foundational level. However, as marvelous as protections are, they don’t necessarily impact culture. 

Updating a Culture Guide to reflect your commitment to a welcoming and accepting workplace can help create change from the ground up. The goal is to create an environment where people don't have to be afraid to be who they are. This forges a greater sense of belonging, improving confidence and positivity. 

HR can also implement platforms for individuals who are transgender to speak about their experiences and allow other employees to hear how they wish to be treated. Ensuring that these employees feel included is key in any workplace. 

All employees are different, and everyone has something they are going through that they may not feel comfortable expressing. Keep this in mind when tasked with using correct pronouns. It may not seem like a big deal to those who are not transgender, but to those who are, it can make all the difference in the world.


Additional Resources

You can also stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with correct pronouns and other important topics by using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

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