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Why Pronouns Should Be Part of the Hiring Process

October 19 is International Pronouns Day, which is designed to promote the practice of sharing and respecting people's personal pronouns. Founded in 2018, this is a day when people are encouraged to really think about the importance of pronouns and how using the wrong ones can impact those who are transgender and gender nonconforming.

This is also a time when organizations can think about how they handle pronouns during the hiring process. In order to accomplish inclusive hiring and reach DEIB goals, it's important for businesses to incorporate the recognition of pronouns into their recruiting. Continue reading to find out why.

1. Legal Compliance

In some places, like California and New York City, it's actually legally required for employers to use workers' pronouns. When companies in these locations don't use people's pronouns, they may be held legally liable as this is considered harassment. By including the use of pronouns in the hiring process, it helps make it easier to adopt this as a companywide practice, so those in areas with these laws can ensure they remain compliant.

But even if you're not legally required to use people's personal pronouns at work, it's still a good idea because this is the direction where the workplace is headed. According to a survey by LinkedIn, 70 percent of job seekers think it's important for recruiters to become aware of their pronouns, and 72 percent of hiring managers want to know how candidates self-identify. As a result, it makes sense for your organization to make pronouns part of recruitment in order to promote DEIB hiring and remain competitive. 

2. Signaling Diversity

Since job seekers are concerned about working for organizations that are as diverse as their communities, they heavily consider the diversity of a company when making decisions about job offers. To signal to candidates that your company is dedicated to inclusive hiring, you should make a concerted effort to incorporate pronouns into recruitment. This will show all candidates that they will be respected and valued at your organization, so those who are transgender and non-binary can apply for positions with confidence because you’ve demonstrated how inclusive the company is.

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3. Promoting Inclusive Language

When you think of inclusive language, you may automatically think of it in terms of the language you use related to race and culture. However, inclusive language policies should also address gender. Oftentimes, the language that’s part of recruitment is actually quite gendered—all the way down to job descriptions that include "he" or "she" when describing a hypothetical candidate, as well as those that include coded language generally linked to a specific gender, such as male-associated words like "competitive" and "ambitious" and female-associated words like "cooperative" and "loyal."

These practices can alienate certain candidates, especially those who are transgender or gender nonconforming, so to ensure your DEIB objectives are being met, promote inclusive language in the hiring process—including making recruitment materials gender neutral. For example, instead of describing ideal candidates as "he" or "she," you can use "they" so everyone reading a job description can see themselves in the position.

In addition, when asking candidates for their pronouns, keep in mind that there are a host of choices you may not be familiar with. Make an effort to learn about pronouns like "ze/hir" and "xe/xem/xyr" so you know how to properly address the candidates and employees who may use them.

4. Attracting the Best Talent

The best talent expects companies to adopt inclusive hiring practices, so in order to attract the employees you want, you must show candidates that you're dedicated to DEIB. One huge part of this is gender diversity, as people who are transgender and gender nonconforming, as well as their allies, increasingly expect businesses to demonstrate that they’re welcoming to workers of all genders. 

Asking candidates for their pronouns and sharing your own right away shows people early in the hiring process that you care about gender equality. In addition, including gender inclusive language in your job descriptions and recruiting website will help you build an employer brand that attracts top talent to your company.

5. Normalizing Pronoun Use

Part of what International Pronouns Day is all about is the normalization of pronoun use so everyone feels included and comfortable being themselves. But you can do this all year round so all employees feel safe enough to bring their whole selves to work. In order to foster this sense of inclusion, be sure to disclose your pronouns when you first introduce yourself to candidates. Ask new employees their pronouns during the onboarding process if you don't know them already. Have everyone in the company include their pronouns in their signatures so it becomes a normal part of communicating at your company. These behaviors help to normalize pronoun use so no one is singled out for sharing theirs. 

International Pronouns Day is a great way to incorporate pronoun use into your hiring process, which will go a long way toward finding the talent you want. These tips can help you boost your inclusive hiring by making candidates and employees alike feel more comfortable sharing their pronouns at work.

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