Cathy Nestrick (she/her)
DEI Leader / Co-Host, Parity Podcast; Former VP and General Counsel, Berry Global Group, Inc.
For those of us in the U.S., we learned about pronouns in middle school, or if you’re like me, in junior high. English pronouns are either tied to a gender (i.e., she, her, him, his) or not (i.e., they, them, we, us). We haven’t had to think about pronouns over the years, but recently, they are making a comeback for very good reason.
When using pronouns associated with a gender, we have been making assumptions about the gender of another person based upon that person’s name or appearance. Remember how assumptions aren’t always correct? Well, that’s the case when it comes to our assumptions about gender.
Using the incorrect pronoun when referring to another person can be perceived by them as disrespectful or even offensive, and as a sign that they are not seen and understood. On the flip side, using the correct pronoun when referring to another person is one way to show that person respect. And, the real icing on the cake is that when organizations regularly show respect to all employees, they have a solid foundation to build more inclusive cultures.
The best way to ensure that you are using the correct pronoun is to announce your own pronouns so that others feel comfortable to share their pronouns. I include my pronouns on my LinkedIn profile, Zoom and Teams profiles, email signature, bio, and other places which ask for my name. These actions are free and easy steps towards more inclusive and positive workplace cultures. You can learn more about how to use pronouns at MyPronouns.org.
Cathy Nestrick is a retired executive in the plastics industry, the founder and co-host of Parity Podcast focused on accelerating gender equality, and a DEI thought leader and speaker. You can find her on LinkedIn or www.par-ity.com.