Respecting Names and Pronouns at Work – Pride 2023

The “R” does not stand for recruiter. 

A friend recently asked me if the “R” at the beginning of my name stood for recruiter. She was making a joke, obviously, but it got me thinking…
My full name is Rachel Kaitlin Watson, but you can call me Kaitlin. 

My immediate family all go by our second names for no particular reason other than my grandma being a little superstitious. I’ve always been Kaitlin to the people who know me best, to strangers, online, pretty much everywhere. But once in a while, someone calls me Rachel. 

No big deal, I just correct them. But after telling professor after professor, manager after manager, doctor after doctor, reminding people of my name is exhausting. It is not a preferred name, it is not a nickname; my name is Kaitlin.

When we talk about “preferred” names, the experience of trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals usually come to mind. Someone’s “preferred” name is the name they have given themself before, during, and/or following transition and/or coming out. For some people this can be a liberating experience while for others it might pose threats to their safety and relationships with those close to them. Either way, once someone has chosen a name, that’s it. It’s not a preference. It is their name. 

Using someone’s correct name is a sign of respect. Using someone’s correct pronouns is a sign of respect. I prefer coming into the office, but I am okay to work from home. However, you can only phone me via one number; I don’t have a preferred one. You can only call me by my name.

Top 5 tips for respecting names and pronouns at work.

Ask, don’t assume.

We present our gender in all sorts of ways; hair cuts and styles, clothing, makeup, changing your voice, body language. When you meet someone new, ask them their pronouns. Just because someone presents themself like a man, doesn’t necessarily mean that they use he/him/his pronouns. So just ask!

Make a conscious effort.

Hey, mistakes happen! Sometimes you might slip up and use the wrong pronouns or someone’s dead name accidentally. That’s not a big deal, as long as you make an effort not to make that mistake again.

Use your privilege for good.

If you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, then you have an inherent privilege that trans and non-binary people might not necessarily have. When you see or hear someone being mistreated because of their gender identity or sexuality, speak up.

Consider inclusivity and diversity training for your workplace.

A lot of organisations will invest in this type of training during Pride month, but there is no better time than the present to learn! Don’t put off diversity, equity, and inclusion training until the time suits, invest your energy in creating a safe and accepting work place sooner rather than later. 

Here at Azon, being respectful is part of our CORE Values. We have undertaken steps in our business to be more inclusive and more equitable, but we know there is still more work to be done.

Nobody is under obligation to come out.

Some LGBTQ+ people are out and open about their gender identity and sexuality. Some people are not. Gender and sexuality are personal, and not everyone will be open to answering your questions. 

Interested in learning more?

There are lots of resources out there to learn more about Pride and Allyship. Here are the resources used for this blog:

2021 Report on “Gender Identity in the Workplace”

LGBT Ireland

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