We all have the right to choose our gender pronouns.  It’s important to be inclusive throughout your recruitment process and, if need be, make your clients aware of this too. Using the correct pronouns will ensure your candidate feels accepted and valued and, most of all, included.

For some people, their biological sex (the sex they are assigned at birth) could be different from the gender they identify with and that is their prerogative. Some people identify as the gender they were born with, some may choose not to identify with any gender, and others might identify with more than one gender.

If you are unsure of the person’s gender pronouns, use the words ‘They/Them/Theirs’ which are gender neutral / non-binary.

When asking what the person’s pronouns are, you could simply say: “My name is Elzette and my pronouns are She/Her/Hers, what are yours? If you accidentally address someone by the incorrect pronoun, don’t make a big deal about it; simply correct yourself and move on. Example: “Sam said he – I mean they – are looking forward to the interview.”

Taken from Kat Kibben’s very handy pronoun guide:

Pronouns can mean something different to everyone, so it’s always a good idea to ask.
This guide should give you a general idea.

She/Her/Hers and He/Him/His – These are the pronouns you already know and although our brains are trained to use them, you may find that some folks use a label that doesn’t match your perceptions of gender. This is why it is so important to open the door during conversation/introductions to allow for folks to share the pronouns that feel best for them.

She/They or He/They – Chances are, these folks identify with a healthy balance of masculine and feminine energy. In all cases, you should integrate both pronouns as often as possible. Use “they” and “them” every so often in circumstances where you would normally use “she” and “her”.

Ex. “She sent in her application for the new job opening. I have looked at their resume and they seem to be an excellent fit.” It is perfectly acceptable to use “they” and “them” when referring to a singular person. Our brains might tell us otherwise but think of a time when you’ve spoken about someone you’ve never met before.

They/Them/Theirs, Ze/Zir/Zirs, and Ze/Hir/Hirs – Many folks who use these pronouns identify as non-binary, meaning they do not feel particularly drawn to either masculinity or femininity. Some might use these pronouns if they are feeling detached from the gender they were assigned at birth. Regardless of the reasoning, those using they/them pronouns should ONLY be referred to as “they” and “them”. Ze (Zee) Hir (Here).

A great idea is to ask your candidate at interview stage what their pronouns are. This way, you can address them appropriately and also inform your client so that they can make them feel welcome and respected. For your candidate’s sake, this will save them the anxiety (or fear of rejection and judgement) of having to ‘come out’ to their future employer.

“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard.”
Liz Fosslein & Mollie West Duffy

Even if this does not affect you personally, this might matter very much to someone else. Misgendering someone could affect their mental health and according to The University of Texas’ research, transgender and non-binary people are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as the general population. So be kind, be human.

“Researchers interviewed transgender youths ages 15 to 21 and asked whether young people could use their chosen name at school, home, work and with friends. Compared with peers who could not use their chosen name in any context, young people who could use their name in all four areas experienced 71 percent fewer symptoms of severe depression, a 34 percent decrease in reported thoughts of suicide and a 65 percent decrease in suicidal attempts.”

UT News (University of Texas)

As mentioned earlier, instead of using He/She or S/he in your job advert, use they or you. By using words like She or He, you exclude a massive talent pool and it might indicate to some that your company and your client’s company are non-inclusive, which could negatively impact your reputation as a recruiter and your client’s employer brand.

Another step to take to be more inclusive is to update your application forms to include the pronouns mentioned above.

For more information on pronouns in the workplace, I encourage you to download Kat Kibben’s pronoun guide here:- https://www.threeearsmedia.com/hr-pronoun-guide.html

Sources: University of Texas NewsUniversity of Texas NewsThe ConversationHubspotKat KibbenPink NewsThem