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There is nothing more personal than how people refer to each other through names and pronouns. Using a person’s chosen name and desired pronouns shows respect and courtesy. Everyone deserves to have their self-ascribed name and pronouns recognized in the workplace.

But why are we talking about pronouns? Because pronouns are everywhere! We use them all day in speech and in writing to take the place of people’s names. We use pronouns without even thinking about it.
You don’t think so? Ok – we’ll come back to that. But let’s look at why pronouns are important.

By using a person’s pronouns correctly, you are showing them respect and forming an inclusive environment. When someone is referred to by the wrong pronouns, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, rejected, alienated, and dysphoric. Remember that no matter your gender identity, gender can be very important to someone’s sense of self. The concepts of gender and gender identities are fluid and constantly evolving.

“They” has been brought to the forefront of pronoun usage, and while some say it’s hard to grasp a plural pronoun in a singular form… we, as a society, have been doing it since the late 1300s. Think about it. When you are on a call, and someone is speaking about a third person, whose name is androgynous like “Morgan’ or ‘Riley.” Your brain doesn’t recognize the binary gender. It will automatically refer to them as the singular “they,” making the person non-binary in
your mind.

Besides he/she/they – there are other pronouns people use. Check out these examples:


Here are some ways the SLAS and CUGS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup recommends we can be inclusive and welcoming for transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary individuals while in the workplace: 

  • Incorporate pronouns into your introductions. Add it right with your name: “Hi, I’m _________ __________, my pronouns are __/__/__” … eventually it will become second nature.  
  • Add your pronouns to your Webcourses, if you are faculty member or student.
  • Add your pronouns to your email signature block
  • Encourage your department to order name tags with pronouns.
  • If you start every meeting or class by providing your pronouns, you can also ask those in attendance to share their names and pronouns.

Are you still wondering why pronouns are important? Try one of these challenges: Start each meeting for one week with your name and pronouns and ask each person to do the same in their introductions. See if anyone else in your meeting starts to do the same. Or try to have a conversation by not using any pronouns – it’s not as easy as it seems. We encourage you to take these small steps to enable our division and college to be more inclusive.