colourful blocks with pronouns

He/She/They: Prioritising Preferred Pronouns 


You’ve probably seen pronouns popping up on social media profiles or email signatures after people’s name. They look like: she/her, he/him, they/them, or even they/he or she/they.

But what does it mean? 

It’s really not that complicated. Pronouns simply replace a proper noun, or name, in conversation. So, instead of saying “That’s Cameron’s coat” you could say “That’s his/her/their coat.” 

Pronouns have part of the ongoing conversation of gender and gender identity. But, before we dive into how to use preferred pronouns correctly, let’s dive into the differences between sex, sexual orientation, and gender. 

Sex refers to a person's biological status and is typically assigned at birth (male, female, intersex). 

Gender is often defined as a social construct of norms, behaviors and roles that varies between societies and over time (man, woman, nonbinary). 

Sexual orientation refers to physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or other genders (straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc.) 

See how they’re all different? We should note that no matter what someone was assigned at birth (male/female/intersex), their gender identity exists separately. It’s gender identity that tends to influence pronouns.  

Pronouns & Business Travel 

Using a person's correct pronouns is a matter of respect, and organisations around the world are listening.

Countries including Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand and United States allow passport holders to mark their gender as non-binary or X. However, the issue of these passports does not guarantee entry or transit through other countries, if they do not recognise the X gender marker. 

In the UK, the Home Office has fought against X passports. In December 2021, the UK's Supreme Court dismissed a case by non-gendered activist Christie Elan-Cane to make X gender markers available on passports. 

If you know your traveller has an X on their passport, you’ll want to ensure you’re sending them to locations that will honour and affirm their gender identity and not put them at an increased risk. 64 counties still have anti-LGBTQ+ laws in place, with some upholding outright bans. If you need more information on the LGBTQ+ environment in a particular country, you can check the UK Government's website.

Gender Identity and Travel Tech 

So you know a traveller's preferred pronouns, but how do you add them to your travel tech to make sure their gender identity is affirmed throughout the travel process? Many HR IT systems have started to include preferred pronouns in their employee profiles, but it’s a bit more complicated in the travel space.   

How can the corporate travel industry work together to make sure tech can support travellers of all genders? The traveller profile needs to sync with other systems, like the online booking tool and back end tech, such as the GDS. Not all GDS and OBT systems currently support X or U gender markers or non-gendered titles, which could cause a break in the connection between systems. Airlines, hotels, TMCs and other travel organisations all need to collaborate to address the barriers to a seamless travel experience for transgender and non-binary travellers.  

The journey of affirming gender identity in travel still has a long way to go, but the first place we can start is with our tech and policies. Chat with your Customer Success Manager and let them know gender inclusivity is a priority, especially adding preferred pronouns. 

Where to go from here 

There are simple things you can do to jumpstart your company’s path to gender equity and inclusion. Encourage your team to include their preferred pronouns in email signatures, virtual meeting profiles, and nametags at events. Make the switch to HR IT systems that support preferred pronouns and hand out information that helps your team and travellers understand the importance of respecting preferred pronouns and gender identity. Together, we can make the business travel world an even more inclusive place.