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Gender pronouns - using them or not?

Morning all - I wondered what the trend is with regards to changing employee handbooks, policies and /or contracts from using gender pronouns?  We are startup organisation and have just embarked on defining our D&I strategy,. Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks 

  • Hi Nina,
    I still use them, but on forms, etc, they're optional. I have found that despite the current headlines, most people are more than happy to be a [insert pronoun here]. There seems to be a much bigger problem with Mrs/Ms/Miss - women wanting or not wanting to be identified as married.
    You can always substitute identifiers like you, they, your, instead of s/he, her, Mr.
    A minefield - good luck :)
  • In reply to Teresa:

    Much sense comes out of House of Lords in this regard?
  • There are surprisingly few occasions when you *have* to use a gendered pronoun in this type of writing. For example, instead of writing "An employee is expected to bring his/her issued laptop...", you can write "Employees are expected to bring their issued laptop..."

    Where you cannot avoid using a gendered pronoun it is now increasingly convention to use "them/their" in singular neuter form as well as plural. It seems a little awkward in this transition period, I know, but we'll all get used to it soon enough.
  • In reply to Robey:

    In my handbook/policies/forms etc I've used the example that Robey has given and it seems to work well for us.
  • I mostly use "Employee" in the handbook etc, theres an odd she/he in there in e.g. maternity sections etc but its mainly "employee" and that wasn't due to a desire to use gender neutral language as such, it was just easier to type "employee" rather than "she/he"
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    26 Feb, 2020 11:51

    In reply to David:

    Interesting, David. 6 years ago, too.
  • We are currently updating our handbook / policies etc. and have generally used 2nd person terms (so 'we will' and 'you should') where possible.
    Where 'you' / 'we' doesn't work; we have gone with 'the Employee' or just 'they/ them / their' instead.
    This was predominantly to make the documents a bit more approachable (and encourage ownership), rather than a conscious attempt to avoid gender pronouns - but ultimately has meant the documents are gender neutral by default.
  • Thank you very much everyone really appreciate your input, really valuable. 

  • Thank you very much everyone really appreciate your input, really valuable. 

  • Thank you very much everyone really appreciate your input, really valuable. 

  • In reply to David:

    Hi David,

    Thank you so much - reading this gave me the best night's sleep I've had for ages... ;)

    Perhaps it's time we had a specific gender-neutral word? Say 'Hin', which could mean either/any gender, then Him/Her/etc could be specifically for that particular gender - eg: 'Hin can arrive at 3' or 'She can arrive at 2'. It could also be used in titles, eg: 'Policehin' is a member of the police force, whereas 'Policeman' is a male member.

    I know we can use 'person', but it can be a bit of a mouthful.
  • In reply to Teresa:

    just seen this, which chimed somewhat with this thread - loudly enough not to induce somnolence, anyhow.
  • I explicitly wrote all our new policies to be gender neutral. Employee/They/Them etc.

    If I see him/her in text it makes me flinch - I'd actually rather the legal practice of using him and assuming it to mean both a male or female than spell both out.

    One debate I did have when drafting was the correct gender-neutral terminology for "His Excellency, the Governor". It tends to get shortened to HE, The Governor to gender-neutralise it, but I do wonder if "Their Excellency" would be better. There never has been a female Governor here yet, but that's not to say it won't happen.
  • In reply to Lesley:

    Or, indeed, a gender-fluid one, or just someone who prefers not to be identified by a gender-specific pronoun regardless of their personal gender identification.

    Perhaps "Just Call Me" Harry is leading the way towards a general abolition of these faux-medieval honorifics.
  • In reply to Lesley:

    Hi Lesley
    Pedantic old me would say about 'His Excellency' etc that if you're referring to the actual office-holder, who happens to be male, then it's merely a factual descriptor.
    But if you're referring to the office of governor generally, then 'His Excellency' would be wrong and something like 'His / Her' or 'Their' far better. (in fact, speculating much further, the latter would even accommodate a gender-fluid or gender-unspecific guv'nor!
    It's a bit like recording formal meetings, where 'Chairman' to me is okay if the actual person chairing the meeting were in fact male but arguably not if not the case, when 'Chair' far better (many would say always far better....)