January 16, 2020

Let’s Talk Gender Inclusiveness and Pronouns!

OCF’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion includes fostering a gender inclusive workplace and using language that individuals and communities use to describe themselves, including gender inclusive pronouns.

A thoughtful group of OCF staff collaborated to develop this helpful resource guide to facilitate understanding the importance of gender inclusiveness as an element of diversity in the workplace and in our communities.

A pronoun is a substitute for a noun or a noun phrase and can be used to reference a person or thing, such as “she” or “they”. Personal pronouns (sometimes referred to as gender pronouns) refer to people and can imply a gender identity. Some personal pronouns you may or may not be familiar with include: she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs, etc. This list is not exhaustive but provides a sampling. A gender inclusive pronoun does not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed.

Gender identity is defined as one’s personal sense of one’s own gender. Gender can correlate with the sex assigned at birth or it can differ. When a person describes another individual using a personal pronoun, it can mean the person is interpreting the other individual’s gender based on their appearance, expression or name. This assumption may be incorrect, thereby ‘misgendering’ or calling a person by the wrong gender pronoun. At OCF, we strive to create an environment where gender identity and pronouns are respected by all members of our community.

As part of our effort to create a community that is accepting and respectful, we ask our employees to use the pronouns that a person identifies with in communications with and about them.

General tips on using pronouns

If you do not know someone’s pronoun, and you are not sure how to refer to the person, simply address them by their name. If you make a mistake, briefly apologize, correct yourself and move on. 

To help others know their pronouns, some OCF employees have adopted the following practices:

  • Including pronouns in their email signature and on business cards.
  • Wearing pins or buttons that convey their pronouns.
  • Communicating their pronouns during meeting introductions.

If you'd like to learn more about pronouns, visit: