10 Feb How To Navigate The World Of Pronouns
Last year, a trend started on LinkedIn. The trend was not one of style or pop culture but rather people and pronouns. I saw scores of connections I have added to their profile names “she/her” and other various combinations of the desired pronouns they wish others to use.
I thought this was a bit strange at first, mostly because I felt, perhaps a bit incorrectly at the time, that gender identity was more of a personal issue and wasn’t material to business and hiring processes, mostly because I believe in hiring for skill. My (flawed) reasoning was, I don’t care if you’re straight, gay, or anything else; can you do the job well and can you respect the people around you in the business culture.
However, those last two words, business culture made me pause. I realized that gender identity was, in fact, intrinsically linked to business via the culture aspect. Seeing the pronouns on profiles was a result of those cultures showing that they have a culture of inclusion, and I’m really happy about that. A job applicant who may be non-binary, transgender or gay may find a great deal of solace in the fact that when they go to work they will be less likely to be judged by colleagues for who they are.
This is a huge bonus to them when they can see, at a glance, that an organization has members that are supportive of who they are (Tweet this). One of the most horrible feelings in the world is going to a place that you feel unsafe in, especially when life forces you to be there. Showing an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion for an organization on LinkedIn is a very forward thinking way to show people of talent that no matter who they are, they are welcome at the organization and there are allies to them there as well (Tweet this).
Having your organization’s employees flying the LinkedIn equivalent of the pride flag on their profiles is a unique take and a great one too, if you ask me. We know that there are organizations and businesses out there that don’t support what they see as a “lifestyle choice” and are quite vocal about it. (See the dust-up about baking a wedding cake in Indiana a few years back.)
Businesses and hiring managers that make a strong push for diversity because of the strength it brings to a culture benefit the organization as a whole (Tweet this). Adding pronouns to their LinkedIn profile is one of the ways they can signal to others that their company is a place that does not harbour hate. It will remain to be seen whether this movement gathers steam.
Practical tips for navigating the world of pronouns by Feyi:
-Don’t be afraid to ask, even if you are sure someone identifies as she/her, it is still nice to ask just to be certain.
-Practice makes perfect, especially if a close friend, colleague or family member changes their pronouns, try having fake conversations with yourself to get familiar with using their new pronouns.
-Don’t invalidate the person by saying “you don’t look like ….” Gender expression is personal and individual, don’t invalidate them.
-Apologise if you make a mistake and don’t dwell on it, we all make mistakes.
-Be open to correction.
-Research is key, pronouns go further than she/her, he/him and they/them. For example, the use of neopronouns, a common example being xe/xem but there are over 10.
-Don’t be offended if someone asks for your pronouns.
Feel free to comment your own tips