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Newsroom

How Pronouns Foster an Inclusive Society

DJ

 

By D.J. Dammann (he/him), Cricket Wireless

One of the things I love about Cricket Wireless is how much value we place on honesty, respect and diversity. We walk the talk here, and that's impressive.

We are constantly engaging with people. Maybe less so in-person these days, but we're still talking, meeting and interacting. When you meet someone new, you often start with some niceties: “Where are you from?" “What do you do?" or “What's your background?"

A question you should consider adding to your list is, “What are your pronouns?" The pronouns that you are most familiar with and have likely been using your whole life are he and she. But, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), there are increasing numbers of people with gender identities that don't necessarily fit inside these neat little boxes. As such, some people may not want to be identified as he/him or she/her.

For example, a term you might have heard more frequently over the past several years is non-binary. According to healthline.com, non-binary describes someone whose gender identity isn't exclusively male or female. A non-binary person may say to you, “I prefer they/them as my pronouns." While that might be unfamiliar to you, your honoring of the request demonstrates a beautiful act of respect for that person's individuality and diversity.

This conversation might be uncomfortable or awkward for you – truth be told, I'm not yet fully comfortable myself using pronouns all the time – but plenty of people will appreciate you for asking and not making assumptions about their gender identity. If you are uncomfortable, it's OK to not proactively share your pronouns, but please always respect someone else's preferences.

Our language is constantly evolving, and we've seen the transition of other words and phrases evolve to be more inclusive. Some examples include the shift from “salesman" to “salesperson," or the use of the phrase “staffing a booth," versus “manning a booth." The evolution of these words shows that we have much more visible diversity in the world, and it's more than skin color or sexual orientation. Using different pronouns is another step in our evolution to a more inclusive society.

Someday, I think “pronouning" will become more commonplace. It's similar to when you meet someone new and aren't sure how to pronounce their name, so you respectfully ask. It happens to me all the time. My last name is of German origin and means “the man who works at the dam." So, it's pronounced like that, “DA-min." Some people end up mispronouncing it, which isn't a big deal. However, it is refreshing when someone proactively asks me how to pronounce it.

The next time you introduce yourself, feel free to share your pronouns and ask the other person for theirs (mine are he/him). Or add it into your email signature or WebEx profile. This small gesture could show someone seeking signs of acceptance or safety that they are safe to be their whole selves here at Cricket, and that could make a real difference.

If you want to learn more about pronouns, here's a primer from CNN: International Pronouns Day: A guide to personal pronouns - CNN.

To learn more about LEAGUE at AT&T, one of the oldest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) employee groups (EG) established in corporate America, please visit https://www.league-att.org/.

This content is part of The Cricket Nation's D&I collection. The goal of this content is to celebrate D&I, a core pillar of the Cricket Wireless culture.