Why We’re Sharing Our Pronouns

At Henderson, we strive to create and maintain a culture where everyone feels like they belong. We welcome and celebrate differences because we know that working in an inclusive and diverse environment makes us, first and foremost, better people, as well as better partners and teammates.

Over the last several months, you may have noticed personal pronouns appearing after some of our employees’ names in places like their email signatures, Zoom names, and LinkedIn profiles. This has been an intentional effort as Henderson is committed to providing an equitable work environment for all employees.

Below is information about the importance of personal pronouns that was recently shared with all Henderson employees by our LGBTQIA+ affinity group, UNITE. This communication was part of Henderson’s regularly scheduled diversity and inclusion employee education efforts.

Our purpose is to build a better world. And to us, that means starting with our people first.


We all learned back in English class that pronouns are the words we use to refer to someone in the third person, rather than using their name. Using the correct pronouns to refer to an individual is an important step in showing respect for that individual. When pronouns that are different than what a person uses to describe themselves are used, it’s called misgendering and can be a hurtful act that often leaves the individual feeling disrespected or even invisible.

Pronouns become most significant when an individual doesn’t identify with the sex assignment they received at birth based on their physical anatomy. Conversely, an individual’s gender is a social construct that is determined by a person’s experiences of themself or someone else based on socially established norms related to masculine/male or feminine/female traits. Some examples of this may be, “his facial hair makes him look masculine” or “her posture and walk are feminine.”

There are several pronouns that exist, and the lexicon is ever-expanding as our societal understanding of sex and gender continues to evolve. The most common in our current culture include: feminine pronouns (she and her), masculine pronouns (he and him), and neutral pronouns (they and them). The use of “they” as a neutral pronoun is singular – like in the game Guess Who?, where you might say, “Are they wearing a hat?” It’s important to note that some people are comfortable with multiple pronouns, for example (she/they). This gives you the freedom to choose or mix it up when referring to them.

Someone whose sex aligns with their gender identity is referred to as cisgender. Most people fit in this category. For example, a masculine man who was assigned male at birth. However, we aren’t all comfortable in this category. Individuals who have an assigned sex from birth that does not align with their gender identity are either gender non-binary or transgender. For example, someone who was assigned female at birth, but identifies with traits society wouldn’t typically classify as feminine.

It’s important to always try to refer to an individual by their current name and pronouns. You may think to yourself, “Rebecca (she/her) used to go by Rob (he/him) in high school, so when I bring up stories from senior year I should use Rob (he/him).”  However, this isn’t the case. A better way to frame your thought process is, “She has always been Rebecca, and we’ve now learned that we’ve been misgendering her since we’ve known her.” Always use the requested name and pronoun. Sharing or using someone’s deadname (the term used to reference the birth or other former name of a transgender or non-binary person) is disrespectful and could even divulge information that’s not publicly known. If you slip up, it’s ok. But if you catch yourself, or someone corrects you, just apologize, correct yourself, and move forward. And if you know you’ll be spending time with someone who has recently changed their pronouns, you can even practice referring to them properly.

Sharing our pronouns helps us share with others how we identify ourselves, regardless of what our external appearance, mannerisms, or name may suggest. Pronouns might not be significant to you, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important to others. When we normalize sharing our pronouns, we take a step toward making sure all people feel safe and supported in sharing theirs so that they can feel seen, by everyone, exactly as they see themselves.

Written By
Mindy Garrett

Chief People Officer | Principal


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