Using Pronouns in Your Diversity & Inclusion Policies

Educating yourself on the importance of pronouns in the workplace, and how pronouns have evolved from just he/she, can drastically change how you and your agency are viewed. “Growing numbers of businesspeople identify as gender-nonbinary, assuming gender identities that are not exclusively male or female. Nonbinary individuals may describe themselves as bigender, agender, transgender, or another term reflecting a gender that is not simply masculine or feminine,” commented Nancy Flynn in her whitepaper, Use Pronouns to Support Diversity & Inclusion.

To quote U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Chair House Financial Services Committee on Diversity & Inclusion, “Diversity cannot merely be the ‘nice thing to do.’ It must penetrate the company’s mission, practices, and organizational culture. It must start at the top with the CEO and permeate throughout management. It must be intentional.”

What does this mean for you and your agency? It is imperative that you take action now to become an industry leader. Emphasize your commitment to diversity and inclusion by creating best-practice policies and procedures. Nancy believes that “Pronoun rules showcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion. They demonstrate compliance in jurisdictions where nonbinary employees are legally protected, and discrimination based on gender identity is prohibited.”

Incorporating diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies minimizes compliance risk, creates a safe work environment for employees and patients, fosters an environment of respect, and even has financial benefits! According to a 2019 survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers, 85% of CEOs globally report seeing enhanced performance after investing in D&I programs. The Wall Street Journal states “Diverse and inclusive cultures provide organizations with a competitive advantage over their peers.”

As mentioned in the opening, the use of language has evolved. The AP Stylebook accepts plural pronouns such as they, them, and their to refer to singular nouns/individuals. We no longer need to assume a person’s identity using he/she pronouns. The Pew Research Center discovered that one in five Americans knows someone who prefers to use gender-neutral pronouns such as they. “Ignoring pronoun preferences of gender nonbinary and transgender employees may cause emotional pain and could trigger discrimination claims,” stated Nancy. Chances are someone you know, love, or respect prefers to use a gender-neutral pronoun. Enact agency-wide change for them. It makes a difference, and it matters.

The Hospice & Home Care Webinar Network partnered with Nancy Flynn of the ePolicy Institute to create the Communicating Your Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion: Creating Effective Policies & Procedures webinar which walks you through the process of creating, establishing, and maintaining these important policies. Learn how to create a culture of respect and understanding that benefits employees, patients, business associates, and future generations.

Written by Sidnie Kane | Program Coordinator | Hospice & Home Care Webinar Network

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