At the start of 2022, we had the honor of presenting the new Pronouns feature to our colleagues at Lattice’s all-hands. Here’s our take on why it was such an important step in the company’s journey, from Lattice Advisory Expert, Julia Markish.
Pronouns are one of the easiest — and, admittedly, one of the hardest — ways to promote equity, belonging, and inclusion across an organization. Easy, because it takes very little effort to include pronouns in your introduction (and now in your Lattice profile!). Hard, because it takes a lot of institutional unlearning to turn that tagging into an organizational norm. And that’s exactly what pronouns-as-a-behavior needs to become in order to achieve the goal of true inclusion — a norm.
Let’s Start With the Basics
What are pronouns and why are they important? Pronouns, or more specifically, personal gender pronouns, are an indicator of a person’s gender identity — an identity that they (and they alone) have the power to decide and state. Gender has historically been assigned by society according to a person’s binary sex (though that can present even more problems, as it’s estimated that 1.7% of the world’s population is born intersex).
But since a person’s gender identity is far from binary, and has no business being decided by society, we are steadily moving toward a more inclusive set of pronouns for folks to choose from — namely, the addition of the nonbinary pronouns they, them, and their. Having the opportunity to state our own pronouns so that others may refer to us using our correct gender is an incredibly important step in the march toward equity and inclusivity. (Want to learn more basics? Check out our guide and additional resources below!)
What’s more, creating a norm around stating our pronouns is as important for people who identify as the same gender as their sex at birth as it is for people who don’t. That is to say, the “rest of us,” who generally don’t have reason to think critically about personal gender pronouns, have the opportunity and obligation to create space and normalize this topic that would otherwise fall on our nonbinary, trans, and genderqueer colleagues to bring up and bear the burden of.
It’s not the job of the oppressed to call out their oppression. It’s not the job of the minority to call out the majority on our biases. It’s all our jobs to create inclusive and welcoming spaces for all members of our society to be able to feel comfortable (and, dare we say, happy) in their skin. The more we normalize proactive pronoun identification and the more visible we make that norm, the more we will all benefit in our journey to becoming better humans.
This is why we’re so proud of Lattice — for taking part in systematizing that norm. With pronouns being a default setting in Lattice, employees at every company that uses the Lattice platform will have the opportunity to participate in this movement.
Our mission is to make work meaningful — not just for those of us who happen to align with society’s outdated norms, but for everyone. For us, having the option of stating pronouns in Lattice — and having them surfaced in contexts where they’re relevant and critical to get right — means that Lattice is proactively and systematically working to make equity, inclusion, and belonging part of society’s new norms.
Lattice’s Guide to Gender-Related Terminology and Behavioral Norms
Below are some key terms that you may hear and that are essential to be familiar with in order to be inclusive of all genders.
- Cisgender individuals identify with the gender assigned at birth by their doctors. If you were assigned as a female and still identify as a female, you're a cisgender person.
- Transgender means that someone identifies with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth. If you were assigned as a female and don't identify as a female, you may be transgender.
- Binary refers to the ways that we have historically defined gender as either male or female (two binary options).
- Nonbinary identity often refers to individuals who do not identify as male or female.
- Misgendering is the act of using the incorrect gender pronoun for someone, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Best Practices for Being Inclusive of All Genders
Below are some best practices for being inclusive of all genders in the workplace.
- Consider including your pronouns in your email signature; LinkedIn, Zoom, Slack, or Lattice profiles; or name at work to foster a culture of inclusivity.
- Incorporate neutral language: Instead of “Guys” or “Ladies,” use “Everyone,” “Y’all,” or “Folks” to make sure all team members feel acknowledged, safe, and included.
- Provide educational materials and training to your team about gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns and their correct usage.
- Use “they” or “their” wherever possible, instead of “s/he” or “his or her,” to include people who may not identify with binary pronouns.
- Respect a person's privacy and journey. Remember that not all individuals feel comfortable or safe sharing their pronouns or having them shared in the workplace. When learning about a colleague's pronouns, ask what they would feel comfortable being referred to in larger group settings.
- Remember that you can't tell someone's gender just by looking at their appearance. So, share your pronouns first and invite others to share theirs with you.
Adding your pronouns to the software that you use is a great first step toward building a more inclusive workplace. But there is always more work to be done around diversity, equity, and inclusion and gender inclusivity. The most important step is getting started, and the next most important is not to stop.
For additional content about pronouns in the workplace, check out these helpful resources: