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How to Use Gender Pronouns in Email Signatures Positively

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Using gender pronouns in email signatures

We know not everyone identifies with the pronouns they’re born with. It is insensitive to assume a person’s gender as male or female automatically. But this sometimes can cause confusion when it comes to addressing new people.

It’s helpful to understand other people’s preferred gender pronouns so we can build respectful relationships – especially with our colleagues and clients. It’s important to remember that the language we use matters. When you refer to someone by their correct pronouns, you show them respect and acknowledge their identity. This also allows for a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

A simple way to do this is by encouraging teams to add their preferred gender pronouns in an email signature. It’s a small gesture, but it can go a long way.

But what does adding pronouns mean in terms of email signatures? Here, we’ll look at why it’s important to include gender pronouns in email signatures, how to introduce the idea to your team and the most effective way to roll out custom email signatures across your business.

What are gender pronouns?

A gender pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun to refer to a person or people. Our preferred gender pronouns are how we wish to be referred to in the third person.

For example, those who identify as male typically prefer ‘he’ and ‘him’. People identifying as female often prefer ‘she’ and ‘her’, while those who don’t identify as either may prefer ‘they’ and ‘them’.

As a rule, asking someone to share their pronouns before addressing them is often courteous.

Why should you include gender pronouns in email signatures?

Refer to people by their preferred gender pronouns

We often speak with people we’ve never met via email, often making gender assumptions easily.

For example, we may refer to people in an email chain with what we assume their gender to be. We mean no offense, but the recipient may find it distressing if their preferred pronouns are misused.

One way to avoid this is by encouraging employees to include correct pronouns in their email signature. It’s a simple way of highlighting how they’d like to be referenced to others.

It’s not just for those who’ve been given the wrong pronoun though. Encouraging companywide adoption of gender pronouns in email signatures shows that the business is supportive and inclusive of everyone.

Examples of commonly preferred gender pronouns

Subjective Objective Possessive adjective Reflexive
HeHimHisHimself
SheHerHersHerself
TheyThemTheirsThemself
Ze (pronounced zee)Zir/HirZirs/HirsZirself/Hirself
HuHumHus/HusHumself

However, this isn’t a comprehensive list, and individuals in your team may identify with different gender expressions. So, asking for their input before rolling out custom email signatures is essential.

Examples of common definitions relating to gender pronouns

To gain a strong understanding of the topic of gender pronouns, review the following definitions:

Preferred gender pronouns

These are pronouns that an individual decides to be addressed with. Sometimes known as personal gender pronouns or ‘PGPs’, sharing these is a simple way to normalize rather than assume someone’s pronouns or gender.

Cisgender (cis)

A person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. So, an example would be someone born biologically as a male and expresses their gender as male.

Transgender (trans)

A person whose gender identity differs from the one they were assigned at birth. For example, a transgender woman is someone who was listed as male at birth but now identifies as female. However, trans people may also describe themselves using various other terms.

Non-binary

A person that doesn’t describe themselves or their gender as male or female. Also known as genderqueer, non-binary individuals see their gender as not defined by the margins of the gender binary.

Agender

A person that does not identify as any specific gender. They may refer to themselves as gender-neutral or genderless.

Starting the conversation

Some of your team may already include their preferred gender pronouns in their email signature. But spreading the message to the whole team encourages more widespread adoption.

Even those who haven’t experienced misgendering can support others by adding their preferred pronouns to their email signature. It’s a show of support for those who have and normalizes the idea that we risk upsetting our friends and colleagues by simply assuming their gender identity.

Let your team know it isn’t compulsory but explain it can be a positive sign of unity with their friends and colleagues. And that if they want to opt in, the business can make it simple for them to update their signature.

If you’re using an email signature management solution, consider sending a survey out to the team, in which they can select their preferred gender pronouns and whether they’d like to opt in or out of adding them to their email signature.

Using gender pronouns in email signatures

Adding preferred gender pronouns to email signatures is simple. The chosen pronoun set often sits alongside the other contact information you typically include like name and job title.

Senders usually include examples of their preferred gender pronouns – like ‘he/him’, or ‘she/her/hers’ – and this usually appears next to, or underneath, their name.

This may look something like this:

John Doe (he/him)
Managing Director
Exclaimer
+44 (0)1234 567890

Jane Doe (they/them/theirs)
CEO
Exclaimer
+44 (0)1234 567890

Best practices for listing gender pronouns in email signatures

In order to make your pronouns clear and easy for colleagues to read, it’s important that you:

  • Spell pronouns correctly
  • List them in order of preference
  • Use lowercase letters for the pronouns (e.g., I/me).
  • Separate each pronoun with a comma (e.g., I/me, he/him).

If an employee opts for more than two gender identities, use “or” instead of listing every possible option. For example: “I’m he/she or they.” This method is also helpful if they have multiple roles within your organization and want to indicate which pronoun goes with which role (since not all roles fall under the umbrella term “employee”).

How to add gender pronouns to email signatures

But what does adding gender pronouns mean if you can’t ensure they are added correctly to all users’ email signatures? Exclaimer’s email signature solutions make the process of including gender pronouns in your company’s email signatures easily.

Manage email signatures centrally in Office 365 (now Microsoft 365), G Suite (now Google Workspace), and Microsoft Exchange, and then add preferred gender pronouns as required. All this while maintaining the professional formatting and design your business upholds in its internal and external communications.

Create a standard list of pronoun sets and potentially include a custom option, allowing you to input unique sets as your team requires. Adding these new fields to the business’ existing email signature templates will enable you to toggle pronouns on and off by individual preference.

Our intuitive and flexible email signature management solutions allow you to design and edit email signature templates easily. So, you can add preferred gender pronouns alongside an employee’s name within their contact information.

Summary

As the world becomes more aware of gender identity and expression, it’s important that we all take steps to be inclusive. Inclusion doesn’t just mean making sure your workplace is open to people of all backgrounds—it also means creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their pronouns.

By adding preferred gender pronouns to email signatures, you can help to make this happen! And you can make this process very simple by using email signature software from Exclaimer.

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