Should you start adding your pronouns to your email signature?

Will Reuben, Designer at Revolt talks about how small acts of inclusivity can make a big difference

By Will Reuben

As we continue to aim for a complete sense of belonging for everyone within the workplace it is important to understand the significance of acknowledging and respecting individual identities. One simple step to take to achieve this, is to include pronouns within email signatures.

An email signature is there as a way to display the key contextual information you use to identify yourself and how you wish to be addressed. This helps whoever receives the email to know how you identify and how they may refer to you.

Pronouns, for example: “she/her” refer to the words people use to identify their gender (not to be confused with sex). By adding them to your email signature you are giving the recipient clarity on which pronouns are to be used when referring to you.

The most commonly seen pronouns are “he/him” and “she/her”. “They/them” would refer to someone who identifies as gender fluid or non-binary, meaning that they do not conform to the traditional ‘binary’ genders commonly associated with men and women.

Neopronouns go beyond those that most people are familiar with. They are ‘neologistic’ third-person personal pronouns and refer to any pronouns other than he, she or they. An example of this would be “Xem/Xe/Xir” (pronounced Zem/Ze/Zir) and date back to 1789. They are used by people who feel these more accurately describe their gender compared to conventional pronouns.

You may see people with a combination of pronouns, this is to suggest that they are comfortable being referred to with a mixture of any that are listed, and they may also change, so keep referencing their email signature to prevent misgendering. If you accidentally misgender someone, the best thing to do is apologise, correct yourself, then simply resume the conversation you were having.

The agency I work at, Revolt, does not make it compulsory to list your pronouns in your email signature, this is because many people, for personal and sensitive reasons, may not feel comfortable publicising their pronouns. For example, someone who is in the process of transitioning may not identify with the pronouns assigned to them at birth and could be living with Gender dysphoria. Whilst inclusion of pronouns is beneficial it’s essential to approach it with sensitivity. Including pronouns is a sign of respect. By explicitly stating one’s pronouns individuals show consideration for others’ preferences and signal an open and supportive environment.

If you are a cis-gender person, (cis meaning someone who identifies with the gender assigned to them at birth) you may be wondering why you might include your pronouns in your email signature. The simple reason is that it normalises discussion about gender, which can benefit everyone.

For the trans and non-binary community, using correct pronouns is not only a simple and respectful way to communicate but it can also be a powerful way to increase gender affirmation and a sense of belonging. By doing this one act it avoids assumptions and minimises the potential for misgendering.

Doing so demonstrates the commitment an organisation has to diversity, inclusion and belonging. When employees see pronouns included in their colleague’s signature it signals an inclusive and progressive culture and helps create a safe space for inclusive and curious conversation that ultimately leads to a wider felt sense of belonging within the workplace and beyond.

Globally, language and culture varies in expressions of gender identity and so the inclusion of pronouns can help bridge cultural differences or gaps and encourage understanding.

If you are unsure about someone’s pronouns, the simplest way to be clear is to ask the question ‘What pronouns do you use?’

Beyond this, displaying your pronouns within Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Teams is also a small, and impactful thing you can do in developing an inclusive and accessible workplace.

These steps are practical ways of acknowledging and honoring diverse identities, and leads to a greater sense of fulfillment from both the employer and employee. While this may seem like a relatively simple act, it is all part of how a brand can adopt an inclusive approach to communicating with all of its audiences: employees, partners and customers.

If you are thinking about adding them to your signature but don't know where to put them, you can use Revolt’s layout as a reference.


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