Dear Evil Skippy:
Can my employer force me to include a pronoun preference on my email signature block? My name is obviously male and I will feel really stupid putting “He/Him” on my emails.
Whether or not anyone can force you depends on your level of commitment. You might be convinced to do it at gunpoint, but your boss might not try that since the employment practice is illegal everywhere but Texas. Are you in Texas?
Leaving persuasion techniques aside, your letter demonstrates why your employer is doing a great thing because you make so many baseless and dare I say stupid assumptions. For example, you say your name is obviously male. Ha. Where have you been? Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” was a hit in 1969 so I beg to differ. (“I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named Sue'”)
Here’s what I think even though I have never met you: You are raising a stink about this because you have some sort of issue with gender politics and activism. I have no idea what your issue might be. Maybe you are tired of hearing about gender. Maybe you hate people that don’t conform to your personal beliefs. Maybe it’s something else. I sure don’t know, but I do know your employer’s policy is probably designed to show support for a segment of your community and perhaps people in your workforce. Why would you have a problem with showing support for other humans?
Just change your signature block. You don’t have to march in a parade or sign a petition. Your employer already tells you (I hope) to use business language at work (“kind of”) instead of informal text talk (“kinda”), right? The pronoun signature rule is a lot like that. It is a standard format your employer wants you to use for work-related correspondence. That is not so hard. I can’t think of it as being a burden on anyone in any way at all unless that person is just a jerk. Stop whining and just do it.
Keep in mind that your attitude about the new policy is precisely the sort of thing that can make some people’s work lives miserable at times (if not worse).
Finally, look at it this way. Would you rather feel stupid for putting the pronouns on your signature, or feel stupid for getting fired for refusing to follow a simple policy?
Evil Skippy (He/Jim)
P.S. Jim won’t be commenting today but I am sure he agrees with me. He has developed a quarantine addiction to Stardew Valley and is live streaming on Twitch instead of working on this post. He will be sorry for giving me unsupervised access to the computer. This postscript may or may not be factual. Flag me Twitter, I dare you.