Use of language inclusive of all genders is one way RTI supports equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. Although most people use pronouns that are consistent with the gender we were assigned at birth, many do not. Being conscientious about using the correct pronouns demonstrates that you recognize and respect others’ gender identities and helps to make the Institute an inclusive place to work. 

Gender identity and why pronouns are important

Someone’s gender identity is their innate concept of themself as a woman or girl, a man or boy, a combination of both, or neither. For most people, their gender identity is consistent with their biological sex, or the sex they were assigned at birth. For transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people, this is not the case.

  • Transgender: an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity is inconsistent with the sex they were assigned at birth. 
  • Nonbinary: a term used to describe people whose gender identity is neither exclusively masculine nor exclusively feminine.
  • Gender nonconforming: a term used to describe people who present themselves in a way that does not conform to the cultural norms and expectations associated with their gender.

Using the correct pronouns when referring to someone is a way to show respect for that person; using the wrong pronouns is one way of misgendering them, or disrespecting and stigmatizing them. 


A group of co-workers smile and walk down a hallway together.

How to be an ally

Allies are members of a privileged group (in this case, cisgender people, or people whose gender identity is consistent with their biological sex) who are committed to ensuring equity for members of a group with less privilege (in this case, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people). Actions you can take to be an ally include the following:

  • Be proactive about sharing your pronouns in writing (e.g., in your email signature) and verbally (e.g., when introducing yourself)
  • Show your support for transgender and other LGBTQ+ people, such as by displaying LGBTQ+ symbols or flags in your workspace
  • Educate yourself on basic terms and definitions relating to gender identity and share the knowledge with others.
  • Be the one to say something: If you witness behavior that discriminates against, stigmatizes, or could in some other way create an unsafe or uncomfortable workplace for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming employees, don’t wait for someone else to address it. 

A young nonbinary worker at their computer.

Support of Gender Identity

RTI practices diversity and inclusion principles everywhere we operate in the world. Our employees respect one another and value the expression of gender identity in our workplace culture and when interacting with our partners. One way we affirm gender identity and show respect for one another is by using pronouns. Using pronouns the wrong way misgenders or disrespects an individual. RTI supports employees who choose to express their gender identity through the use of pronouns. These employees are being consistent with RTI’s value of respecting one another, and they are aligning with RTI’s mission to improve the human condition.

Video: The Power of Pronouns in Fostering a Culture of Belonging

Our pronouns reflect a part of our identity. Sharing them with someone is one small gesture of saying "here's a glimpse of who I am." Using the correct pronouns when referring to someone is a way to show respect for that person; using the wrong pronouns is one way of misgendering them, or disrespecting and stigmatizing them.