The UC Office of the President, or UCOP, announced the Gender Pronoun Education/Awareness Initiative on Monday to raise awareness for, and educate staff on, how to create a supportive space for transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming individuals.
The UCOP introduced the gender pronoun initiative through a three-part series of articles released in the weekly staff newsletter. The initiative emphasizes the importance of developing and maintaining an inclusive workplace, according to UCOP spokesperson Sarah McBride.
While the multiyear initiative is limited to UCOP staff and will not have an impact on any of the UC campuses, it was developed by employees from multiple UCOP divisions. The coalition responsible for planning the initiative included the Employee Engagement and Diversity Group, UCOP Pride, the UCOP’s Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the OP Staff Assembly.
“Diversity is a defining feature of the University of California and we embrace it as a source of strength,” McBride said in an email. “We strive to build a culture where employees feel accepted and individual differences are respected and valued as part of our broader commitment to diversity.”
Sponsored by Yvette Gullatt, vice provost for Diversity and Engagement and UC chief outreach officer, and Thera Kalmijn, executive director of UCOP Operations, the three-part series of articles will build up to UCOP’s third annual Multicultural Day, “a celebration that recognizes the diverse backgrounds and identities of UCOP staff,” according to McBride.
One particular focus of the initiative is the use of pronouns and the effect of their improper use on individuals in the workplace, according to the newsletter. McBride said members of the coalition working on the initiative prioritized pronouns based on input from staff, including transgender and nonbinary individuals, and determined that this was an impactful first step.
According to McBride, the initiative is still in its planning stages, and the multiple departments will continue to work together to design programs and support systems to develop an inclusive culture within the UCOP.
The gender pronoun initiative, however, is not the first program organized and implemented by the UCOP that has focused on a commitment to inclusivity and diversity.
In 2015, UC President Janet Napolitano issued the UC Guidelines for Providing Gender Inclusive Facilities, which ensured that all major facilities, such as restrooms, on campuses were gender-inclusive.
“Creating an inclusive and intellectually vibrant community is critical to the university’s core mission of public service, teaching and research,” McBride said in the email. “This coalition of UCOP staff hopes to continue to encourage an organizational culture within UCOP where trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people feel safe, respected and fully included.”