Two of our key values here at the Omaha Community Foundation (OCF) are Inclusivity and Connectedness. These values aren’t just words or work, they are deeply personal. We believe in the power of diversity to create an inclusive and equitable community where all can thrive and feel a sense of belonging.

We also care for, support, and inspire one another and members of our community in all that we do. This includes using language that individuals and communities use to describe themselves, including gender inclusive pronouns.

As a staff, we have developed a primer below to help further explain and facilitate the understanding of gender inclusiveness, both in the workplace and our greater community.

What is a pronoun?

In the English language, we use pronouns every day often without even noticing.  A pronoun is a substitute for a noun or a noun phrase and can be used to reference a person or thing, such as “she” or “they”. Personal pronouns (sometimes referred to as gender pronouns) refer to people and can imply a gender identity. Some personal pronouns you may or may not be familiar with include: she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs, etc. This list is not exhaustive but provides a sampling. A gender inclusive pronoun does not associate a particular gender with the individual who is being discussed.

What is gender identity?

Gender identity is defined as one’s personal sense of one’s own gender. Gender can correlate with the sex assigned at birth or it can differ. When a person describes another individual using a personal pronoun, it can mean the person is interpreting the other individual’s gender based on their appearance, expression or name. This assumption may be incorrect, thereby ‘misgendering’ or calling a person by the wrong gender pronoun. At OCF, we strive to create an environment where gender identity and pronouns are respected by all members of our community.

What if I make a mistake or don’t know someone’s pronouns?

We are all human. If you make a mistake, briefly apologize, correct yourself and move on. If you do not know someone’s pronoun, and you are not sure how to refer to the person, simply address them by their name. It can be harmful to make assumptions about people based on factors like appearance, background, speech, style, and more. Asking questions can help show that instead of assuming, you’re ready to learn. And if you ask us questions, we promise to not judge but rather continue on this learning journey together.

To help others know their pronouns, some OCF employees have chosen to adopt the following practices:

  • Including pronouns in their email signature lines.
  • Communicating their pronouns during meeting introductions

How do I learn more?

To learn more about pronoun usage, visit: