By Janice O’Neill, Head of Global Talent Management & Diversity
One of our goals as a firm, and for me as a leader, is to build and support a diverse and inclusive workplace: a company where everyone feels respected, valued and safe. We’ve made good progress on this lofty goal in the last few years in a number of ways. For example, we’ve dramatically expanded our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to include the Veterans Initiative Program, the Women’s Integrated Network, BUILD (Blacks United in Leadership Development) and UNITY, our ERG for members of the LGBTQ community and allies.
Of course, there is much more to an inclusive and accepting culture than employee groups. You need to put in place the policies, practices and procedures that truly promote an accepting and flexible workplace. One small, but important, update we have recently made is to request that employees indicate their preferred gender pronouns in their email signature.
As background, common gender pronouns (such as “he/him/his”, “she/her/hers” and “they/them/theirs”) refer to people that you are talking about. For many people, gender pronouns align with their birth-assigned sex, their gender expression (such as appearance, dress and behavior) and how others may interpret their gender. But it is important to recognize and understand that for some people the gender pronouns that others may use in referring to them may not align with their gender identity. Gender identity is not visible—it’s an internal sense of one’s own gender.
With this in mind, we are striving to make our workplace more accepting for those who are transgender or non-binary by allowing all employees to identify their preferred pronouns in their email signatures. To be clear, this step is for all of us. By indicating our preferred gender pronouns, we make the statement that we understand that gender identity should not be assumed; rather it is up to each of us as individuals to state the way we prefer to be referred to. It is human nature to want to be referred to in a way that you feel best describes you. And it’s a sign of respect to do so.
When you add your preferred gender pronouns to your email signature, you are sending a message of inclusion and acceptance to those for whom this is a day-to-day issue. Let’s all contribute in this small way to building a more inclusive Cushman & Wakefield.
Based in New York, Janice O’Neill leads talent management and diversity globally, and is 2018 Chair for Women’s Integrated Network (WIN).