Updated: Oct 10
Pronouns in a Digital World
Do you share your pronouns when you introduce yourself in a new setting? Have you added your pronouns to your email signature? Are your pronouns included when using a virtual platform? On your LinkedIn profile?
Here are a few reasons why people add their pronouns next to their name:
It helps you when you’re communicating with someone. No longer are you guessing the person’s identity; it’s now included in your communication with them. When not certain about someone’s pronouns, the first step is to share yours. For example, “Hi, I’m Seema. I use she/her/hers pronouns.” If the other person doesn’t reciprocate, you could ask, “My pronouns are she/her/hers, what are yours?”
We all use pronouns to identify ourselves. For those in the LGBTQ+ community, pronouns can help affirm gender identities, whether it be he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, etc. For straight allies, it allows our friends and colleagues to know that we understand the importance of using the correct pronouns when addressing someone. Doing so helps signify a level of understanding, acceptance, and respect.
By taking the time to include your pronouns, you are helping to normalize the practice. Rather than assuming someone’s pronouns based on how they look, which implicitly reinforces stereotypes about gender expression, it indicates that you want to take the time to find out how they’d like to be seen and feel respected.
Learn more about pronouns, why they matter, and what you may see:
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Note from our Founder and CEO, Seema Jain: Pronouns in a Global World
Until a few years ago, I didn’t realize how important it was to place pronouns next to my name wherever applicable (signature line, LinkedIn, virtual platforms such as Zoom, etc.). Not only do pronouns create safe spaces for all gender identities, but they are also useful from a cultural competency standpoint. My former boss, a man, was often assumed to be a woman simply because his name ends with an “a,” which in some cultures can sound more feminine. I recognized that by adding pronouns; individuals from around the globe more easily would be able to correctly and comfortably address their counterparts. In cultures where honorific titles are important, pronouns are key to knowing whether to address someone as Mr., Ms., or something else. At times, I use “Dear (First Name) (Last Name)” to avoid any mistakes. In cultures where many names are gender neutral, sharing pronouns can additionally help us to communicate with others without the risk of making a wrong assumption. All to say, a key aspect of cultural competency is respecting and knowing the person with whom you are working. Being addressed with the individual’s preferred name and pronouns is a simple yet crucial part of showing this respect.
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