In my last blog post, Keeping in the Development Loop, I listed a bunch of email newsletters that I enjoy as a technologist. Today I want to share one more email newsletter that I get a lot of value out of and that’s Better Allies ®. Each Friday (ish, depending on your timezone), Karen Catlin shares five tips on inclusion, from which I think have learned a lot. I’ll let my colleagues be the judges.

Since reading 5 Ally Actions - Apr 9, 2021 I have been including my pronouns and the pronunciation of my name in my email signature. It took less time than it took to read that week’s newsletter to add these. Easy!

Three months ago, I started a new job and on my first day I found myself setting up new email signatures, Slack and Zoom profiles - each of these includes my pronouns and the pronunciation of my name, it’s just what I do these days. I was quite surprised to see that this practice is not commonplace in my new workplace but I expect this will improve.

I was recently in a webinar where a participant was misgendered by one of the presenters answering their question, which they asked using Slido (whose homepage boasts, “It’s how you include everyone in your meetings”). There’s currently no facility in Slido to display pronouns or pronunciation alongside your name. I think this could have saved some discomfort if it were available and used – so I’ve submitted a support request to add this feature.

People tend to get my pronouns right all of the time and pronounce my name correctly most of the time, so I’m sure some people are reading this and wondering why I do this. In short, I want to help to normalise the practice of sharing pronouns as I understand this is helpful to genderfluid, transgender, and nonbinary folks. I also believe that no one should have to hear a broken version of their name. Kudos to NameDrop for making this really easy.

This week (13 - 19 November) is Trans Awareness Week, a week to celebrate, support, and learn about trans and gender diverse people. In the spirit of being a better ally, here are my 5 action items for this week that you may like to consider:

  1. Subscribe to the “5 Ally Actions” Newsletter.
  2. Add your pronouns to your email signature and online profiles. I’ve just added mine to this page!
  3. If you administer a Slack workplace, enable “Pronouns Display”. By default, the pronoun field is hidden in Slack profiles, I learned this week.
  4. If you’re maintaining a service that connects people, make it possible and easy to display pronouns and name pronunciation (and perhaps a recording).
  5. Customise your chatbot to look for problematic terms and suggest alternatives.