Inclusion in the workplace matters: Badge accents allow for display of preferred pronouns

[Allina Health Newsroom, June 26, 2024] As a long-standing advocate for LGBTQ+ individuals and communities, Allina Health’s support can be traced back decades, including early support of affirming care at clinics and individuals who fought to gain rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Serving a diverse population of patients calls for continuously learning and evolving as an organization, so it’s no surprise that the same support of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) is offered to employees. 

In late 2018, Allina Health created an official DEI&B which consisted of forming a dedicated team and later included the establishment of multiple Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to bring employees together around important principles. The Pride ERG, which meets virtually every quarter, today includes more than 350 members across the health care system. 

After Allina Health introduced the option of including pronouns in email signatures and on Microsoft Teams, gender pronoun “badge buddies” were a natural next step that was excitedly spearheaded by the Pride ERG. Placed under an employee’s name badge, they clearly display preferred pronouns ranging from he/him, she/her, they/them, “Ask me my pronouns,” and even a blank space for employees to write in how they’d like to be addressed. 

On the front lines

For Asher, a registered nurse at Allina Health, the badge buddies were a welcome sight. Asher, who uses they/them pronouns, came from an out-of-state health care organization where pronouns were an essential part of the provider and patient interaction. “I was nervous in moving to Minnesota because, while it’s a more progressive state, my experience with inpatient nursing hadn’t been inclusive of my pronouns before,” they said.

Manager of DEI&B at Allina Health, Josine Durant, explains, “We want employees to feel included and to know they can bring their whole selves to work. In order for them to do their job, which is to take care of patients or take care of those who take care of patients, they have to feel they are in a place where they can be themselves and feel comfortable.”

Asher agrees having a workplace that is welcoming and provides a badge buddy with their pronouns makes them feel seen and understood. “I think this initiative shows that Allina Health cares about supporting a diverse workplace and it also shows queer patients that the organization has some base knowledge of their identities,” they add.

Creating safer, more inclusive spaces

Some work sites within the Allina Health system were so excited about sharing their pronouns, they created their own badge displays prior to the official launch of the gender pronoun badge buddies. “In my unit I know several coworkers had their own pronoun stickers on badges from ages ago,” explained Asher. “It’s nice that the badge buddies are easier to see and available for everyone.”

“Having a badge buddy makes it so much easier for my coworkers to gender me correctly, especially those who I don’t work with as often,” says Asher. The badges help clear up any doubt about someone’s pronouns and allow people to proactively put forth how they want to be addressed. It also can help redirect or correct a patient or colleague if someone is misgendered, whether they use they/them, she/her, he/him or any combination of pronouns. 

They continue, “I think it’s particularly great that my cisgender colleagues are also wearing badge buddies since it normalizes sharing pronouns and creates a safer environment for trans people to be themselves.”

Josine sums up diversity, equity and inclusion, saying “It’s important that our workforce reflects our neighborhood, our city, our state, the world and, most importantly, our patients – that’s the diversity part. For our workforce to do their best, they have to feel that they can be who they are, and that's the inclusion part.”

Asher Herndon (002)
Asher proudly displays their gender pronoun "badge buddy" while working as a registered nurse at Allina Health.

Posted on June 26, 2024 in DEI

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