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Why Pronouns are Important for Businesses

Jake Hedges
In 2015, the word "They", referring to those whose gender does not fit in the "traditional" gender binary was named the word of the year. Six years on, the fight to normalise non-binary gender identities is still ongoing: so what should businesses do to address it?
You may have seen pronouns floating around more commonly recently as non-gender identities have breached social and professional bubbles alike. Cultural visibility of such individuals and communities has transformed the way we think about gender, but chief amongst the roadblocks to achieving a more diverse world is the understanding and use of gender-neutral pronouns.
A recent PEW study showed that 20% of Americans know someone who prefers to go by a gender neutral pronoun. So, chances are that someone you have talked to recently would prefer to go by a pronoun other than he/him, or she/her.
These pronouns are not used to define the biological aspects of an individual's anatomy, but rather where the individual falls in the "universe of gender" (a term coined by Leah Juliett). Pronouns are deeply personal ways for individuals to outwardly show their gender expression, and respecting other's choices to want to be addressed through use of a specific pronoun (whether it be he/him, they/them, she/her or another) is imperative in ensuring an inclusive workspace.
Coeo are dedicated to ensuring that everyone in the company has the right to express themselves freely at work. As such, the team are empowered to include their pronouns on the main website if they would like to and we are currently working on a way to allow individuals to have them in their email signatures.
Additionally, we are putting measures in place to ensure that our internal and customer-facing documents are inclusive to people through all walks of life. Some examples of how you could get started with creating such documents include:
  • Ensuring that you are writing without bias, by following Microsoft's guide; and
  • Enabling Microsoft 365's settings for inclusivity and accessibility, available through Editor > Settings > Inclusivity.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Feel free to let us know them by leaving a comment below.

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