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Explaining email signatures role in a business inclusivity strategy

iStock 933850042 - Global Banking | Finance

By Maria Dahlqvist Canton, VP Marketing, Exclaimer

Establishing a gender-inclusive workplace benefits everyone. There are many simple changes corporations can do to promote and expand diversity, equity, and inclusion in their hiring practices and workplaces.

Businesses are already beginning to implement policies to promote the use of personal pronouns, like Marks & Spencer giving its staff pronoun badges as part of the retailer’s inclusivity drive.

With this in mind, I will explore how email signatures are an effective tool for boosting inclusivity in the workplace, shifting company attitudes, and why this is beneficial for businesses.

Normalise sharing pronouns

Mis-gendering can be hurtful, even if accidental. So, normalising the act of considering the pronouns before you use them is a big step forward.

Many businesses are increasingly adopting the practice of sharing individual pronouns in the workplace as part of diversity initiatives. For instance, Ministry of Defence officials have been encouraged to publicise their preferred pronouns on email signatures, social media profiles, and at the start of meetings to alleviate stigma and make their transgender and non-binary colleagues feel more comfortable.

Adding pronouns to simple but visible parts of ‘work-life’, like including it in a professional email signature, is a great first step to building gender inclusivity in the workplace.

It may be a small action, but it can make all the difference.

Disclosure is optional

Businesses should operate effective inclusion strategies to ensure everyone feels valued. Allowing employees to include gender pronouns in their email signatures is a way of doing this.

However, for some LGBTIQA+ people, disclosing their pronouns may be a source of anxiety, so it shouldn’t be made mandatory. Instead, let employees decide for themselves if they want to include them or not. This will give them the freedom to do so without fear of criticism.

It’s worth noting that pronouns alone shouldn’t be treated as the only effort businesses implement to be more inclusive; they should also be met with training and education as core elements of a company’s inclusion strategy.

This is because inclusivity training is still in its infancy, and not all employees will be up to date on inclusive terminology and behaviour.

Businesses should educate their teams on the importance of considering their use of pronouns and the impact of making automatic assumptions. It’s the responsibility of the employer to encourage people to use more inclusive and gender-neutral language when communicating.

Rolling out short, regular training schemes that work around employees’ schedules will encourage higher levels of staff involvement.

Companies can then share their inclusive training and policies within their email signatures. Embedding a link to the company’s diversity and inclusivity policy within a disclaimer offers an extra layer of support that employees and consumers can easily refer to at any time if needed.

To minimise headaches for the internal IT department, introduce a third-party email signature management solution. This makes it easy to tailor contact information quickly, guaranteeing it’s correct for everyone irrespective of department, region, and country, while simultaneously maintaining a consistent brand image.

Include it in the strategy

A truly inclusive work culture ensures that every employee – regardless of their identity – feels supported and respected.

To retain talent, most organisations offer workplace benefits like competitive financial bonuses, and most recently flexible working. But none of that works for an employee who doesn’t feel comfortable in their work environment.

recent study revealed that companies that encouraged disclosing pronouns led to more positive attitudes towards their employer, as well as increased confidence that the company would treat all employees fairly.

A work culture focused on gender inclusion has the power to elevate previously unheard voices and place more value on diverse experiences. This in turn  fosters an environment of respect and trust.

This type of environment not only attracts more diverse applicants but also has all of the structural supports in place to set them up for success.

It’s suggested that the growing number of employees sharing their pronouns is likely to mirror broader corporate efforts to support a more diverse employee set.

This can help forge meaningful connections with customers and suppliers as it’s been reported almost 80 percent of consumers prefer buying from brands that align with their values. In addition, nearly 70 percent of consumers have stopped supporting brands that don’t align with their personal values.

This makes it clear that consumers are only investing their time, money, and attention in brands that have a genuine commitment to important principles they care about.

Global Banking & Finance Review


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