Nonbinary Employee Pronouns

Hi HR Gurus!! 

I have an employee who has reached out for advice on how to better direct other employees by not calling them by the incorrect terms.  They specifically do not want to be called "Ma'am, lady, she/her, etc.".   They have hung a sign in their work space asking for a different reference, and have asked multiple times very nicely to other employees. 

They have reached out for help and stated they are very emotionally exhausted by the need to correct.  They know the sign is not the solution and have asked for me to come through with something that could be helpful. 

What have other HR pros done to support Nonbinary employees in the workplace with the pronouns/terms being used?

Side Note:

  • We do have an option for pronouns on our signatures in our emails, which they engage with. 
  • We are a blue/white collar split industry so we do have a good portion of both professions in our workforce. 
  • We have a very supportive culture team that recognized pride month in June.  I think they were most comfortable reaching out for support because we have built that environment of openness.  

How can I support them fully in my HR role?

Thanks - Sabrina

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  • Hi Sabrina! Although a different situation, I had an exchange student stay with my family for a few weeks over the summer who used they as their pronoun. We struggled saying they and them the first week because it was new and uncomfortable from an English language perspective, not because of any negative intentions, and our student was very understanding. I asked my family to just use the student's name instead of pronouns and that worked the best for all of us. It was a bit formal, but easier for my family to say than they. We all wanted to be respectful. I have to admit that it was initially harder than I thought that it would be but we figured it out. I hope that this helps!

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    • Patti Maenza
    • HR Consultant
    • Patti_Maenza
    • 7 mths ago
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    Sabrina D Chamblee If you are interested, I have worked with a DEI consultant that provides training in raising awareness about DEI; the very basics of DEI like the proper use of pronouns etc.. It’s her DEI 101 course. Let me know if you or anyone is interested in learning more about this 1/2 day program.

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