Why pronouns are important to your LGBTQ+ clients

In this article, Aviva Pride community member and Intermediary Social Media Manager, Chris Bailey-Munt, explains how using pronouns can help to improve the customer experience for LGBTQ+ clients.

I met with a group of financial advisers recently and was asked about the use of pronouns and how they can be a better ally to LGBTQ+ clients.

Advisers want to welcome LGBTQ+ clients through their doors and be respectful but can be nervous about doing or saying the wrong thing.

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are words we use every day to describe ourselves and others. For some, pronouns can be an integral part of expressing their gender identity. I use he/him and others may use she/her, they/them or xe/xem, for example. Some people may use several sets of pronouns.

Pronouns may be fixed or fluid and change as people understand their identities better. Some people are genderfluid and may use different pronouns at different times.

To better support LGBTQ+ clients, it’s important that we normalise using pronouns to help everyone feel seen, included and respected.

Here are my seven top tips:

State your pronouns 

Introduce yourself with your pronouns and ask people you meet for the first time what their pronouns are. This helps to put non-binary and trans clients at ease and rules out any misgendering, which is a common occurrence in their lives.

Add pronouns to your online profiles

Simply adding your pronouns to your email signature, website and social media profiles shows that you are a visible ally and helps to make non-binary and trans clients feel safe.

Use neutral terms to avoid making assumptions about gender

For example, ask ‘Do you have a partner?’ or ‘Are you covered on your partner’s life policy’, rather than ‘Do you have a wife?’ or ‘Are you covered on your wife’s life policy?’.

Use ‘they’ when you don’t know your client’s pronouns or gender identity

This helps prevent misgendering, which can affect clients’ mental health.

It’s ok to make mistakes

If you accidently misgender a client, just correct yourself and continue the conversation. Being overly apologetic can make non-binary and trans clients feel uncomfortable.

Don’t be silent

Use your voice to call out any homophobic, biphobic or transphobic behaviour. By being a visible ally, you can help to improve the experience of the LGBTQ+ community. Your words could help a colleague or client feel safe to come out and be their authentic selves around you.

Keep an open mind to learning more

Gender identity is diverse. By being accepting and open to learn, you will have a better understanding of your LGBTQ+ clients. This will strengthen your relationship with them, help you to better serve their needs, and grow your LGBTQ+ client base.

For more information about pronouns, visit Stonewall’s beginners guide.