He? She? It? They? Them?

The gender-sensitization taking place in the business world dictates we use nondiscriminatory wording. For some 51% of the world’s languages, no problem. They are already grammatically genderless. As Americans however, we fall into the 38% of population who rely on a gendered language.

We have three choices:

1> Use only plural nouns. This brings us to the craziness of making “they” a neutral pronoun (meaning singular or plural) that leads to confusion and, based on your audience, misinterpretation.

2> Alternate between masculine and feminine pronouns. While I took this approach in my book, it’s a little bit of a “who’s on first” mentality.

3> Rephrase, which is probably the easiest first step.

As a first step, work towards:

Neutral job titles

Rather than: Chairman

Use: Chairperson or Chair

Rather than: Policeman

Use: Police officer


Non-gender description

Rather than: Managers and their wives

Use: Managers and their spouses

Rather than: Layman

Use: Layperson


Group pronouns instead of masculine and feminine

Rather than: Each employee must provide his own transportation

Use: Employees must provide their own transportation

Many recurring phrases are going to be tricky. What have you found is your biggest challenge?