Gender Neutrality: Explaining Personal Pronouns and Gender Identities

Written by Luke Kitchen
Last updated January 21, 2022

Gender neutrality is becoming an increasingly important topic in the workplace. And it makes sense. A recent study showed that around 40% of LGBTQ+ are still closeted at work. People need to become more aware of the different gender identities and pronouns that exist. At the same time, they must also learn how to speak about people and refer to them more appropriately.

At Aspiring to Include, we believe that supporting and accepting other people’s gender identities in the workplace is paramount. We know just how damaging it is for people to have their identities and pronoun choices ignored in the workplace. We also know how this can easily lead to more serious workplace discrimination around sex, gender, and gender reassignment. As such, we care about putting the right information out there and spreading awareness around these topics. 

This blog post will explain what gender neutrality is and discuss personal pronouns and gender identities. We’ll also explore the best ways to incorporate gender neutrality into an inclusive work environment. This will help ensure that all employees feel safe, seen, and supported. 

What is Gender Neutrality?

First of all, let’s define what we mean by gender neutrality. 

Gender neutrality is the idea that everyone should be treated the same, regardless of gender identity. This includes using gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them/theirs instead of he/him/his or she/her/hers. Some people may also choose to use a different name than what they were born with to reflect their gender identity more accurately. 

Gender neutrality is about creating a society where everyone can feel comfortable and respected, regardless of their gender identity. It works to get rid of more traditional binary roles and expectations which may hold people back and cause unnecessary discrimination and bias. 

Adopting gender neutrality in the workplace is a great way to make the working environment more equal and inclusive for everyone. It also helps transgender and non-binary employees to be more easily included. 

Personal Pronouns

Next up, let’s talk about personal pronouns.

When we talk about personal pronouns, we are referring to the words we use to refer to other people. There are three personal pronouns in English: he, she, and they. In most cases, these pronouns correspond to the gender of the person being referred to. 

For example, if we say, “John is going to the shop. He wants to buy apples”, John is referred to with the masculine pronoun ‘He.’ However, there are times when it is not clear what the gender of the person is. For example, if we say “Alex is a great musician,” we don’t know if Alex is male or female. 

In cases like this, we can use the gender-neutral pronoun ‘they’ to refer to the person. For example, “Alex is a great musician” could be rewritten as “They are a great musician.” This ensures that we are not assuming the person’s gender and that everyone is included. This approach can be used with everyone so as not to make assumptions about gender identity based on their name.

Everyone deserves to feel comfortable and respected in their own skin. By using gender-neutral pronouns, we can move one step closer towards creating a truly inclusive society. Gender-neutral pronouns are incredibly useful and accessible in the workplace, especially during recruitment processes and at the very start of your relationship with a new colleague or employee. 

Gender Identities

It’s important to note that there are many different gender identities out there, and it is important to be respectful of them all. Pronouns are just one of the ways in which people assign gender to other people. 

Another way of doing so is by defining and naming gender identities. This is another area where we should never make assumptions. Instead, we should be accepting of the terms people want to use to refer to themselves. 

The most common gender identities include:

  • Cisgender: a person who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Trans man: a man who transitioned from a woman.
  • Trans woman: a woman who transitions from a man.
  • Non-binary: an umbrella term for people who identify as something other than a man or woman and who prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
  • Agender: a person who identifies as neither a man nor a woman.

Some people choose to use different pronouns than what they were born with because those pronouns accurately reflect their gender identity. For example, a trans man may prefer to be referred to as he/him/his, rather than she/her/hers. This is because trans men identify as men, and using the correct pronouns helps to affirm their gender identity.

Similarly, a person who identifies as non-binary may prefer to be referred to with they/them/theirs instead of he/him/his or she/her/hers. This is because non-binary people do not identify as either men or women and using the correct pronouns helps to reflect their identity.

There is no “correct” way to identify as gender-neutral. Some people may prefer to use they/them/theirs pronouns, while others may prefer something else. As long as you’re respectful of the person’s gender identity, you can use whatever pronouns they feel comfortable with.

Advice for Employees

If you’re an employee and someone asks you to use their correct pronouns, it’s important to do so. By using the correct pronouns, you are helping to affirm the person’s gender identity and create a more inclusive workplace

You may also want to consider using gender-neutral language in your own speech, such as “person” instead of “woman” or “man.” This will help ensure that everyone feels comfortable and respected in the workplace, regardless of their gender identity.

While it can be challenging, it’s also important that you’re assertive with others about your own personal pronouns. Everyone deserves to be referred to in a way that feels comfortable and respectful, so don’t be afraid to speak up if someone gets your pronouns wrong. 

It’s also important to know your rights and look out for workplace discrimination. If you feel that your gender identity is not being respected at work, it’s important to reach out for help. Many organisations and groups can support you, and there is no shame in seeking out help.

We need to continue working towards creating a society where everyone feels comfortable and accepted, and using gender-neutral pronouns is one way to do just that. Using the correct pronouns can help break down gender barriers and create a more inclusive world for everyone.

Advice for Employers

Gender neutrality is becoming more common in the workplace as employers strive to create a more inclusive environment for all employees. 

In some cases, it may be necessary to ask someone what their preferred pronoun is to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and respected. It is important to remember that not everyone identifies as a man or woman, and there are many different gender identities out there.

For example, if a trans woman is employed at your workplace, it’s important to use the correct pronouns when referring to her, even when she is not present. This may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference in creating an inclusive environment. 

Similarly, using gender-neutral language when talking about jobs and employees can help to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and respected.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, gender neutrality is becoming more significant in the workplace, and there are many ways that both employers and employees can create a more inclusive environment. By using gender-neutral pronouns and language, the workplace can be an accepting and safe space for everyone, regardless of gender identity. 

For more information on gender in the workplace, take a look at our range of resources right here on Aspiring to Include

You can also check out our inclusive job board to find accessible and diversity-positive jobs in your industry.

Everyone deserves a job where they are respected for who they are, let us help you find your next inclusive opportunity. 

Are you an employer? We offer a range of services to help your business become more inclusive, starting with the recruitment process. Here are some of the ways our industry experts can support you:

Need a service you don’t see on the site? Get in touch to discuss our bespoke Employer Packages, tailored to your recruitment needs.

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Last Updated: Wednesday April 3 2024
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