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Why We Use Pronouns

By Coates


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Coates is committed to creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive environment. We want everyone to feel comfortable being themselves and celebrated for who they are. We’ve been focusing on creating a space of neutrality, where no assumptions are being made of anyone in relation to their unique identities.

Historically, society has taught us to try and figure out how someone might identify by the way they look, however, some people have a gender identity that doesn’t necessarily correlate to what you might think by the way they express themselves. To avoid making people feel unseen and uncomfortable, we believe you should never assume someone’s pronouns.

If this is the first time hearing of pronouns, we’re excited to help educate you on what they are and why they are important. Below are the 4 most common pronoun variations.

  • he/him/his (may be for someone who might identify as male)

  • she/her/hers (may be for someone who might identify as female)

  • they/them/their (may be for someone who might not identify strictly as male or female, these pronouns are considered ‘gender neutral’; also used when referring to multiple people)

  • ze/zem/zir (may be for someone who might not identify strictly as male or female, these pronouns are considered ‘gender neutral’)

Although these pronouns are most widely used, it’s important to note that some people use a combination of pronouns. For example, someone might identify as she/them or them/ze. In addition, some people don’t identify with any of these pronouns and will create their own or adapt pronouns to fit their needs.

The Coates Crew is very proud to support the inclusion of pronouns in our newly introduced email signatures. This may seem simple, but we hope it will have an incredible effect on our wider community.

If you are a cisgender person, which is someone who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth, we’ve identified a few positive effects including your pronouns in your email signature can have:

  1. You’ve created a safe space for people to speak and act freely.

  2. You are educating someone on pronouns, which can have a ripple effect in their own lives and those around them.

  3. It creates the dynamic at Coates and in other organizations that pronoun identification is not only reserved for people who are transgender, genderqueer, or non-binary.

  4. It enables your team members, partners and suppliers to identify each other by referencing them in correspondence with their correct pronouns.

Everyone is unique in their pronouns. People may also choose to change their pronouns throughout their lives. That is why it is so important to pay attention to our email signature pronouns, because they might not stay the same. If someone choses to not include their pronouns on their email signature, it is not appropriate to ask them directly. Instead, offer up your pronouns to signal to them that you’ve created a safe space for them to share theirs when they feel comfortable.

We wholeheartedly believe that it’s not the responsibility of queer people to create a safe space alone. It is the responsibility of everyone to create an environment in which individuals are welcomed, encouraged and, given the opportunity to be their best and most honest selves.