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The simple way to promote a more inclusive workplace: Sharing pronouns

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter, where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: the importance of sharing pronouns at work, the stay interview and the inconvenience of passwords.

—Amber Burton, reporter (twitter | email)

What are your pronouns?

Are you sharing your pronouns at work? If not, now might be the time to start. As I reported in my story on pronouns in the workplace last week, one simple but effective way that tech leaders can create a more inclusive work environment for people of all gender identities is to start setting a culture around pronoun disclosure at work.

If you’re comfortable sharing your pronouns, the easiest way is to simply tack on, “...and my pronouns are…” whenever you’re introducing yourself to a new person or group, but advocates also encourage people to jump into their computer settings to make some simple but effective disclosures today.

Tech-enabled pronoun disclosure is easy. If you haven’t disclosed your pronouns online, here are step-by-step instructions for some of the most common platforms:

  • LinkedIn: Navigate to your profile, and click on the pencil icon at the top right next to your name. Scroll down to “Pronouns,” and either select from the menu options or select “Custom” and write your own custom pronouns.
  • Zoom:Here’s an extensive guide from Zoom, but essentially, navigate to your user profile page, and enter your pronouns in the custom text field on your profile page. Zoom also has an option to select how and when you want to share your pronouns, whether it’s in every meeting or to be prompted every time you join in a meeting. (Note: Zoom told Protocol that for paid accounts with more than one user the admin needs to turn on this option to be visible on their users' profiles.)
  • Twitter: Twitter doesn’t have a built-in way for users to add their pronouns yet, but you can do it manually. Navigate to “Edit profile” on your page, and either tack on your pronouns at the end of your name or in your bio. Stay tuned for an updated “About” tab that the company said in May would be launching soon, which will include a dedicated pronouns section.
  • Email: Many people elect to add their pronouns to their email signatures, which is pretty simple to do. In Outlook, Navigate to “Preferences,” and then select “Signatures.” In Gmail, click the gear icon, then scroll down to “Signature.”
  • Slack: Click on your profile picture, then select “Profile.” Click “Edit profile,” then enter your pronouns.

Here are some other things to consider about pronouns in the workplace:

  • According to LinkedIn, the most frequent pronouns used by members after “she/her,” “he/him” and “they/them” are “she/they” and “he/they.” When a person uses “she/they” pronouns, that means they are comfortable being referred to as either “she” or “they.”
  • Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “My preferred pronouns are…” but gender inclusion experts say a more inclusive way of framing it is to cut out the “preferred,” since that implies that pronouns are a preference, rather than simply an accurate reflection of a person’s gender identity.
  • Pronoun norms in other languages are, obviously, also evolving in real time. For example, in Spanish, some nonbinary people use the term “elle,” as opposed to the feminine “ella” or the masculine “él.” And although the term “Latinx” has risen in popularity as a gender-inclusive alternative to “Latino” or “Latina,” particularly in the United States, the term “Latine” has grown in popularity in Spanish-speaking countries, since it’s easier to say in Spanish than “Latinx.”

Finally, I’ll leave you with this tidbit from my interview with Aubrey Blanche, Culture Amp’s global head of Equitable Design & Impact: “[Have] compassion for yourself. It’s okay to have discomfort. That actually is a sign that you’re growing … You have to push over the discomfort as allies, because that’s where the magic happens. That discomfort should show you that you’re on the right path.”

— Michelle Ma, reporter (she/her) (twitter | email)

Mastering the stay interview

There’s another interview you should be conducting before the exit interview: the stay interview. The purpose of a stay interview is as simple as its name. The goal is to identify possible flight risks and get more employees to stay. While stay interviews are far from new, their purpose has become all the more important in light of rising turnover in tech. Protocol spoke to Amy Zimmerman, chief people officer of Atlanta-based fintech company Relay Payments, about how to effectively conduct stay interviews. “The biggest thing that I would say is only do it if you intend to act on it. You lose an enormous amount of credibility if you do something and you don't follow through,” said Zimmerman.

Read the full story here.


Lexmark, a leading provider of printers and imaging equipment — one of the first IoT devices — understands the potential as well as the challenges better than most. We sat down with Lexmark CEO Allen Waugerman to discuss this major development, which he calls one of the most significant milestones in the company’s 30-year history.

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One fun podcast: On Protocol’s Source Code podcast, Slack’s Stewart Butterfield shares what he thinks is ahead for the workplace in 2022.

Pay, perks & benefits

The latest in pay, perks and benefits news in the workplace.

As we head into the holidays, we thought it would be good to throw it back to some of the perks we’ve seen grow in popularity in the tech industry over the past year. We heard about perks ranging from the four-day week and work-from-home benefits to completely shutting down for a week for employees to recharge. Here are some of the most interesting trends we saw in perks and benefits:

  • A week off for burnout recovery. Training software company Lessonly mandated that all of its employees take an entire week off in July 2021 to combat burnout. “We had employees reach out and share that they were emotional, just thankful that they had the opportunity to do this," Megan Jarvis, who leads talent at Lessonly, told Protocol.
  • Paying people to take vacation. As of November, Evernote was giving all its employees a $1,000 bonus to incentivize them to take five consecutive days off. The unusual move follows the challenge many companies are facing with fewer people using their vacation days, even with unlimited vacation policies. Some companies started setting a minimum for vacation days.
  • Enhanced parental-leave policies. In light of the national push for mandatory parental leave in the U.S., some tech companies made a concerted effort to ensure their parents were supported. Pinterest perhaps made one of the biggest changes in the tech industry to its parental leave policy. The company, which was already known for its more liberal parental leave and support programs, increased its leave for birthing parents in the U.S. from 16 weeks to 26 weeks. It also standardized the amount of leave for all of its global workers.

The password problem

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from speaking with HR professionals and execs, it's that sometimes the smallest challenges cause the biggest tensions among employees and hamper productivity. A common inconvenience is passwords. I can still remember the days when people listed their multiple passwords on sticky notes and stuck them on their computer monitors in the office… wild. Axiad, an identity management company, found that 60% of professionals said passwords have at some point stopped them from doing their jobs, in a survey of 2,000 office workers. Here’s what else it found:

  • 59% of respondents said they’ve experienced having to contact their IT department because they were locked out of their computer.
  • 48% of office workers said they’ve been locked out of productivity and communication apps due to passwords.
  • Not everyone is taking advantage of multi-factor authentication despite more companies now strongly encouraging it. 67% of people responded that they’re aware of multi-factor authentication, but 46% said their IT departments “had never asked them to use anything other than passwords.”

Making moves

Zendesk appointed Andee Nieto as its chief people officer. Nieto was previously the SVP and chief people officer at Xilinx.

  • Mozilla appointed Kristen Trubey as its new chief people officer. Trubey was formerly chief people officer at Hearsay Systems and director of Talent at Netflix.
  • Software company Treasure Data appointed Kimberly Bronstein as its chief people officer. Prior to joining the company, Bronstein was director of Business Partnering at Adobe.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

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