upLIFT: The Use of Gender Pronouns in Email Signatures
(3 pages of text)
The director of diversity and inclusion at a community agency is trying to decide whether to update her business email signature to express her gender identity by providing preferred pronouns. The director must decide whether the benefits of adding the information exceed the potential costs.
Subsequently, in a second and third situation—each situation presented as a separate addition to the main case—the director must decide the extent to which she will formally influence her workers to update their email signatures with gender pronoun, and then whether to update her LinkedIn profile. Much of her decision rests on the cultural operating norms of the organization and the director’s role in the organization.
The case is intended for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on human resource management, diversity, or ethics and values. In a human resource management course, the case is best suited for sessions addressing diversity and inclusion and employee relations and employee voice. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Discuss situations where employee gender identity expression in business communications may arise.
- Contrast circumstances that make gender identity expression in business communications more and less desirable to enact.
- Describe the theory of planned behaviour and apply the theory to the issue of gender identity expression in business communications.
- Consider the merits of various bundles of corporate influence for employees to express gender identification in business communications.
- Contrast circumstances that make gender identity expression in one situation (e.g., email) similar and different to another situation (e.g., LinkedIn).
Social Advocacy Organizations
Canada, Small, 2018
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