You may have noticed folks at HRW sharing their pronouns in their email signatures.
Offering the option to specify pronouns in our email signatures is one of the ways we help to make our workplace a safer and more empowering environment for all.
What are Pronouns?
You may not have thought about pronouns since your primary school English class, but you use them all the time!
Pronouns are the linguistic shortcuts we use in the place of a noun (like someone’s name). We use pronouns most often to help us refer to people without needing to repeat their name over and over again.
Example: Did you speak to Natalie? She is an expert on this!
In English, many of the pronouns we use are gendered – like ‘he/him/his’ or ‘she/her/hers’. So, unless you ask first, replacing a person’s name with a pronoun can involve making assumptions about someone’s gender identity.
Why specify pronouns?
Since it isn’t always possible to know someone’s gender identity from their name or email address, the option to incorporate our pronouns in our email signatures means that we do not need to rely on assumptions or stereotypes to know someone’s gender identity.
Not only does this help avoid getting it wrong (known as ‘misgendering’) when communicating with someone with a gender-neutral name or a name we don’t recognise, it also protects our transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive colleagues.
As a result, the practice of including our pronouns in our email signatures helps minimize misgendering and normalises the process of sharing pronouns for all.
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to learn more about pronouns and gender inclusivity, check out these resources:
Why pronouns matter to us all
Talking about pronouns in the workplace
What does it mean to misgender someone?