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Respecting gender diversity

Diversity and Inclusion By Gemma Christian, Associate, Structural Engineering – 10 February 2022

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Gemma Christian

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If you have recently received an email from someone at Cundall, you might have noticed an extra piece of information in the email signature: pronouns. This optional field is intended to let the recipient know how they should refer to the sender.

It might seem unnecessary – in which case, lucky you! You likely have never been mis-gendered. You probably have a first name that is reasonably commonplace for men in your country, and your gender identity matches the sex you were assigned at birth.

But for anyone outside of that group, it can be more important to spell out your pronouns. Women working in our male-dominated industry are often addressed as “Mr” by default. Cundall’s quirk of putting surname first also leads to many misunderstandings for women who have “male” surnames like ‘Phillips’ and ‘Roberts’.

Stating your pronouns can remove any awkwardness for someone who doesn’t identify with the gender that people expect them to. The consequences for a trans person to “out” themselves can be far more serious, even in the workplace. According to Stonewall, 1 in 8 trans people have been attacked by colleagues or customers for being trans. Many staff of all genders are now choosing to include their pronouns to not only prevent being misgendered themselves, but also as a visible act of solidarity with trans, non-binary, and intersex people. Relying solely on assumed masculine and feminine pronouns (he/his and she/her) when referring to people also excludes those who are non-binary and intersex.

It is important to note that these are not “preferred” pronouns: that implies an element of choice and that more than one option might be acceptable. This is rarely the case and so the words that refer to a person are simply their pronouns.

This inclusivity has an effect outside our company as well. It lets our clients, collaborators and contacts know that we are a respectful, accepting, and non-discriminatory organisation, which for the construction industry generally has not always been the case. We want to make sure that people feel safe to be themselves when they work with us.

Find out more about how Cundall is committed to helping build a more inclusive industry, starting with our own business by reading our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

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