Today is international pronouns day - a day to recognise, accept and educate ourselves on the many different pronouns a person may use to identify themselves. It’s okay to not completely understand what pronouns are or why they are important, however by educating yourself on them, you can show respect to others - helping them to feel included and valued.

Here, we are going to help you understand what pronouns are, why they are important and how you can use them in your everyday life to help others feel valued and to help educate others.

What are pronouns and why are they important

As described by the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI): “Gender pronouns are words that a person uses to describe themselves or would like others to describe them. For cisgender people, the common pronouns are she/her/hers or he/him/his. However, people who do not conform to the binary male/female categorisation may use they/them/theirs”.

You can’t always know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them. Asking and correctly using someone’s pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity. When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, or alienated.

It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. Considering and being respectful of people’s pronouns is important as it:

  • signals acceptance and cultivates an inclusive environment. 
  • is a vital part of building an inclusive culture.
  • is an integral part of helping employees thrive in creating a space where every individual feels they can bring their whole self to work.

If someone doesn’t want to be referred to as he or she or mr, mrs, miss, what should I use? What are the options?

This is a great question - and an important one. If someone does not want to be referred to by cisgendered pronouns, some of those they may like to be referred to by are:

pronouns 3
pronouns 3

How can you support?

The first and easiest way to help support and encourage the use of pronouns is to include yours in your email signature, LinkedIn profile or anywhere else you feel comfortable. By doing this, you are helping to encourage people to share their pronouns with others, rather than assuming someone’s gender based on their appearance.

Secondly, you can introduce yourself with your pronouns when meeting someone new and asking which pronouns they would like to be identified by. This shows a respect for another individual's choice and will make them feel comfortable when talking to you.

Another way to support this is to educate yourself on the different pronouns, learn how they are pronounced and use this knowledge to educate others. No one expects everyone to know everything about inclusive practices, however by being honest, open and willing to learn, we can help create a more inclusive environment for everyone.

At Randstad, everyone who works for us has a responsibility to ensure that they create an inclusive environment where anyone can be their most authentic self. Discrimination has no place here. Anyone wishing to join can do so, knowing that they will be valued and respected, no matter who they are or how they identify.

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