We can categorically state that companies in the UK are not forcing their workers to put preferred pronouns onto their email signatures.
This notion was brought up by India Willoughby who tweeted,
“Something else that I’m surprised no news organisation has picked up on is forced declaration of pronouns in the public sector. Employees now have to declare on their email signature their preferred pronouns. Why? It’s not an issue for 99.9% of people”
However, there is no law that requires workers to share their gender or pronoun statuses, or any law that requires organisations to force their workers to select a pronoun.
Unsurprisingly the tweet got a few replies from India’s followers, one from Dr Adrian Harrop, who replied,
“Not sure it’s really being “forced” onto anyone. I find it to be quite an impactful & empowering thing. it is one of those cues / signals that show our organisation to be one that is inclusive & in which it is safe for trans & non-binary people to be open re: their identity”.
THEGAYUK.com undertook a quick survey across two social media platforms to check the validity of the statement of enforced pronoun selection.
The answer came back with the vast majority (94%) saying that they were not forced to share any gender details with their email correspondents.
What’s the legal standpoint?
We asked Helen Hughes, legal director and employment law specialist at the law firm, Shakespeare Martineau about the legal ramifications on employers asking their employees to state their gender publicly. Hughes told us,
“Although this may be introduced with the best intentions – to address individuals with respect and courtesy in the way that they wish to be referred to – employers must be wary about requesting information from employees that could impact the way they are treated. Although they can’t force you to disclose this kind of information, you should feel comfortable sharing preferred pronouns if you feel it important to do so.
What are preferred pronouns?
A preferred pronoun indicates which gender a person would like to be referred to, usually with a choice of male, female or non-binary pronouns.
Masculine pronouns are, he his and him
Feminine pronouns are she and her and hers
Non-binary pronouns are: They, Them Theirs / Zim Ze and Zis / Mx / Thon /
So what should companies do?
“Having an inclusive workplace culture is crucial however singling out one group of people is a dangerous game for employers. Being open, honest and above all else celebrating people’s differences will no doubt go a long way to improve culture, retention and breed a workforce that looks beyond age, gender, race or the like. There is simply no need to force employees to reveal any more information than they are comfortable with.”