Pronouns 101

By Laura Carpenter Davies

Pronouns are the words that you use when you’re talking to or about someone. Using the right pronouns shows respect and helps to create an inclusive environment.

You’re probably already used to using ‘she’, ‘he’ and ‘they’ in conversation. But you might only be used to using ‘they, them, theirs’ for a group of people.

For some people, binary (she or he) pronouns don’t accurately represent their gender and they might choose to use gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they, them, theirs’ instead.

We often make assumptions about a person’s gender based on their appearance or their name, but these assumptions aren’t always correct.

When we use the wrong pronouns, we can offend the person we’re speaking or writing to. It can send a harmful message that someone has to look a certain way to be able to use a particular pronoun.

Normalising discussions about pronouns benefits us all and can also act as a sign of support for the wider LGBTQ+ community.

Is it okay to ask someone their pronouns?

Avoid asking someone their pronouns when you can, but remember that no one should feel forced into sharing them.

You can help by creating an inclusive environment, for example if you’re meeting someone for the first time one-to-one, you might say “Hi, I’m Corey, and I go by ‘he’ pronouns. How should I refer to you?”.

Some people also display their pronouns on their social media accounts or email signatures as an easy way to show the world the pronouns they'd like you to use. A quick check can let you know what their pronouns are.

What if I get someone's pronouns wrong accidentally?

That’s fine. Make sure you remember for next time. Apologise and treat it the same as you would if you'd forgotten a colleague goes by a nickname e.g. Jamie instead of James.

How else can I show support?

One way you can be an ally is to normalise conversations about pronouns. Not assuming, and using the correct pronouns should be your default, but there are other ways to help others follow suit.

At Deliveroo, we use Slack which lets you add your preferred pronouns in your display name, you can also add these to your ‘about me’. Find out more about adding your pronouns in Slack.

You can update your LinkedIn profile to include your pronouns by tapping the pencil icon next to your name - take a moment to read this Linkedin blog post about adding your pronouns on LinkedIn.

You can also include your pronouns on your Instagram account - click on ‘edit profile and tap the ‘pronouns’ field to add your pronouns.

Got more questions? There are plenty of resources on the My Pronouns website.

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