should I leave my job with great benefits, coworker has a quote about weapons in their email signature, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should I leave my job with great benefits but a problem boss?

I need some help figuring out if I should stay in my current accounting job, or if I should start job searching. I work for a pretty small business, about 80 people across four locations. The office I work in has eight people, including the two owners. The good things here are very good, and the bad things are pretty bad. I only started here five months ago (but I have a solid work history, so I’m not super concerned about leaving soon if I need to).

Here are the good things: I am essentially working part-time for full-time pay and benefits. The owners overstaffed this role so I’m working about 15 hours a week making a competitive market salary for a full-time role with my title. I get to completely set my own schedule, come to the office when I feel like it, and work remotely when I feel like it. I don’t deal with any clients, so I truly can just work whenever I want as long as all the work gets done in a timely manner. Some days I start work at 7 am, and some days I don’t start until 4 pm, depending on what I need to get done in my personal life. The owners are only in the office about 15-20 hours a week and don’t monitor us at all. I have unlimited PTO and the owners really let us take advantage of this benefit. People routinely take 6-8 weeks off a year, including the owners, and no one gets any flack for it so long as work is done. My husband and I are actively trying for our first baby, and I genuinely don’t think I could find this work/life balance and level of flexibility at any other company.

Now the bad: When I was hired, the owners were honest with me that they weren’t 100% sure why I was being hired. They explained that the person working in the finance department already was overwhelmed, and they didn’t know if it was due to business growth or because she couldn’t handle the workload. It became immediately apparent to me that she just couldn’t handle the workload, so this department is overstaffed (hence why I’m only working 15 hours a week, sometimes less). When I mentioned this to the owners, my manager explicitly told me he knew we were overstaffed, but he planned on making no changes. This colleague, “Marissa,” has more education and experience than me. But she’s making my life hell. She’s a very nice, friendly person, but doesn’t understand even the basic concepts of our type of work. She is routinely going through my work and changing it (even though she’s not my manager) and screwing it up so I’m constantly redoing work. When I explained what was going on to the CEO, he told me it was my responsibility to handle “personality conflicts in the workplace” and that he “doesn’t know enough about what I’m doing to determine who’s right.” Because our CEO has zero knowledge about my type of work, when I try to explain things to him, he gets angry if I don’t do things the way he wants. For example, he constantly wants me to change our financial statements in ways that are not legal. When I tell him the changes are not permitted under IRS rules, he calls me insubordinate and sends me home. My name is signed on those financial statements, and if we’re ever audited, I’d be the one at risk. Also, I feel like my skills are atrophying already, and my sense of norms are being warped. My manager yells at people and everyone here just acts like it’s normal. I’m doing so little work that it feels like I’m not growing or progressing at all.

Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, or is this a cut my losses and run scenario? If it makes a difference, while I do want flexibility in my career so that I can start my family, my husband is going to be a stay-at-home father, so long-term my career success is more important for us than my ability to be really flexible.

If it weren’t for your CEO pressuring you to break the law — and calling you insubordinate when you explain you won’t! — I’d tell you that this just comes down to what you personally value most: flexibility versus satisfying work and professional growth. There’s no right answer to that; it depends on what’s most important to you. Some people would love the situation you have (minus the legal issues), even with the Marissa situation, and others would be itching to get out. It’s a personal call.

But the legal issues and the CEO’s handling of it tilt the scale to “get out.” That’s a serious situation that could have legal and professional ramifications for you even after you’ve left this job and it’s not worth it, even for the very real benefits you’re getting in return.

Read an update to this letter

2. Coworker has a quote about weapons in their email signature

I received an email from someone who works for my company but in a different location, and they had a TV show quote in their email signature. Normally I wouldn’t have thought twice about it but the quote was from The Mandalorian: “I’m a Mandalorian. Weapons are part of my religion.”

I should add: we work adjacent to higher education. I feel like referencing weapons even in a quote from a show is probably in very poor taste!

I’ve obviously never met this person and I’m not sure about what, if anything, I should say to them about it. Thoughts or advice?

WTF? That’s wildly inappropriate in a work context. In an era of workplace violence, it’s outrageous that (a) someone would think this was a good thing to put in their work email signature and (b) it hasn’t already been swiftly dealt with.

Forward it to HR or whoever plays that role in your company with a note that you were alarmed to see it and hope they’ll ensure it’s removed. Don’t engage with the person directly about it; they might just say no, so you need someone with the authority to handle it to handle it. (Ideally that would be their boss, but I’m suggesting HR instead because I assume their boss has seen the email signature by this point and for some reason hasn’t found it worth addressing.)

3. I don’t want people to think my pronouns and time zone are part of my name

I’m a director at a fairly progressive company that’s predominantly remote. Recently, the powers that be dictated that everyone is “encouraged” (read: “you have to do this”) to add their pronouns and time zone to their name in Slack. I don’t want to do this! My name isn’t “John Doe (he/him) (PST),” it’s just “John Doe.” There’s no bigotry angle here, as I already have my pronouns and time zone in my Slack profile and did so willingly before I was asked to. I have a real problem with my name being presented as anything other than my name, but I’m worried that not doing this will be interpreted as some sort of political stance when it’s not. Is my only option to bite the bullet and do it even though it bothers me on a personal level?

Yes, it will definitely be interpreted as a transphobic stance even if you don’t intend it that way, because what you’re saying doesn’t make sense any other way. No one is going to think your name is “John Doe (he/him) (PST).” It’s going to be obvious that that’s your name, your pronouns, and your time zone. It’s no different than if your company wanted you to include your job title after your name in your email signature, as many do — no one is looking at “John Doe, engineer” and thinking “engineer” is part of your name.

So the good news is that you don’t need to worry about that at all! You can include your pronouns and time zone without any risk that they will appear to be part of your name.

(If “encouraged” truly does mean “required,” though, that’s a problem since it can force people to out themselves or declare pronouns they don’t identify with. Encouraging it is good; requiring it isn’t.)

4. Can I mention the work I do for my disabled spouse on my resume?

I’m a carer for my disabled spouse — not formally or legally recognized, but in practice I do an awful lot of administrative work, scheduling, advocacy, research, and communication on their behalf. This has definitely helped me develop and demonstrate significant experience in all these skills, but I’m not sure if it’s something I can or should include on my resume or job applications. I’m concerned that employers might worry that my role as a carer might impact my attendance or performance. And if I were to include this experience, I’m not sure where or how to do so! I’d really appreciate any advice you have on this.

Leave it off. In general, work that you perform for your household or family doesn’t belong on your resume — partly due to convention, but in larger part because there’s no way to assess how well you did it. If you frequently dropped the ball, were horribly disorganized, and regularly messed things up, a prospective employer would have no way of knowing that … and there’s no appropriate way for them to probe into it. Plus, your family members can’t be references for the work (and they’re also much less likely to fire you than an employer would be!).

5. Helping an intern with the transition from intern to employee

I work for a small nonprofit where I’m the only full-time staff member (my boss, our executive director, works part-time and on a volunteer basis, so I’m the one running things day-to-day.) We’ve had a paid internship program for about a year and a half now, and it’s been great. One of our interns (Greg), who has been with us since the internship program began, will be coming on as a full-time staff member in a few weeks. I’m thrilled, because Greg is fantastic and a perfect fit for our organization, and having him on full-time will really help take stuff off my plate and help our organization grow.

I’ve onboarded new hires before, but since Greg has been working here for over a year (and honestly operating much more like an employee than an intern, in terms of the level of ownership he’s been able to take on), I know that the onboarding process should be a little different than it would be for someone who’s totally new to the organization. Do you have any recommendations for how I should structure Greg’s onboarding into this new role and what that onboarding should include? Is it just the typical onboarding process minus the “here’s how our organization works” part? Are there any other things I should incorporate to help him transition smoothly from a part-time intern to a full-time staff member?

Do all of it, just like you would if he were brand-new to the organization — because there are probably holes in his knowledge about how your org works that you don’t know about (and that he may not even be able to identify). In fact, although it wouldn’t be practical, I sometimes think there would be benefits to re-doing new employee orientation once people are six months in, because everyone misses a lot in the beginning.

You can explicitly tell him your plan at the start — “I’m going to go over everything with you that I normally would with a new hire. Some of this will be familiar to you, but I want to make sure you don’t miss out on anything just because you’ve already been interning with us.”

In addition, think about what’s changing for Greg now that he’s moving from intern to staff. What expectations will be changing? Are there things he didn’t have the authority for previously that he will have now? Do you want him to manage his work any differently? Step up differently in certain areas? Whatever those things are, spell them out explicitly. (That said, generally you won’t be able to anticipate all of those little changes, so assume you’ll be naming some as you realize them, too.)

{ 662 comments… read them below }

  1. Happy meal with extra happy*

    #4: what a strange hill to die on. At my work, we have the option of having pronouns in our email names (so, in the actual to/from line, it’s displayed as “John Doe (he/him/his)”) and, yeah, I’ve never gotten confused about whether or not they were a part of someone’s name or not.

    1. ToeingTheLine*

      I wonder if #3 is at one of those companies that automatically formats the signature based on your display name and then company-curated information such as logo/contact info/etc. So the only way to edit the name in the signature is to literally change your name in the system to that entire line?

      I could see how that would be annoying and is probably something the company would want to streamline. Even if that were the case though, if most everyone is doing it then it is not an issue and will just be known as a quirk of the company – similar to companies that edit the subject field of emails to add in “[EXTERNAL]” to the beginning of the subject itself.

      But here I am assuming facts not in evidence – and I guess this is against the moderation rules. I was trying to find a more generous interpretation than a number of other comments.

      1. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

        Apropos of nothing, I work for an org where the display names for emails are formatted as last name-comma-first name. (Meaning an email from Alison, even if the address was, would show up in my inbox as from “Green, Alison.” I use gmail for my personal email, which uses commas to separate the different people who have sent emails to the chain.

        Anyway, my first email from the org was asking me to come in for an interview and came from an HR person who had a first name for a last name. Think Jason Terry, although it was not the former NBA role player. So I’m seeing an email from “Terry, Jason” in my inbox and wondering “I’ve seen Jason’s email, but where did Terry’s go?”

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah. It’s like putting professional quals on a business card. Nobody is going to look twice at “Regina Warblesworth CPA, CFP”.

      In fact, I have two good analogies from my own experience.
      1) The paper employee directory that we got in the 90s. All sorts of abbreviated stuff in there about your division, office building & floor, full-time vs part-time status, etc.
      2) Government email addresses. My address when I worked as a contractor on a military base had the form “”. Can’t be confusing a contractor for an actual government employee, or even worse a sworn member of the uniformed military. There were literally tens of thousands of us with “.ctr” in our email addresses, and nobody thought we were all cousins.

    3. Cait*

      I was baffled by that too. Why on earth would someone think your name included a time zone (unless Elon Musk named you)?

      I’d be more understanding if this was one of those “I hate my work-mandated email” where it’s someone’s first initial and last name, and Charlie Lown ends up being clown@companyx. com or something.

      1. SometimesALurker*

        I know this is speculation, but my guess is that OP #3 made his best guess at what bothers him about adding his pronouns and time zone, but that what’s actually bothering him is change. I don’t mean that in a pejorative way — I think it’s extremely rare for humans not to get tripped up by change from time to time!

        1. DataSci*

          If we weren’t required to assume the best of letter writers, I’d suggest a far more obvious and simpler explanation.

          1. ADidgeridooForYou*

            Eh, if LW were truly transphobic and bigoted, he wouldn’t have written in or put his pronouns in his Slack profile – he would have just pushed back with his company. That’s not to excuse or justify his objections, or even say that there aren’t necessarily underlying elements of transphobia – just that fear of change is a far more likely explanation.

          2. marvin*

            As someone who is trans and thinks about gender a lot, I actually think there is room for nuance here. I think the various types of pronoun declaration can be awkward and performative, and I don’t always love them. Then again, I also try really hard to be respectful and not make assumptions about people, and knowing what pronouns people use is quite practical for that. It’s part of the awkwardness of being in a period of social flux around gender norms.

            Practically speaking, I think that particularly as a director, the letter writer should go ahead and add his pronouns if this isn’t a cause for dysphoria. But he may also want to do some reflecting on the reasons for pronoun declarations and why they make him uncomfortable. Who knows, maybe it speaks to some discomfort around the pronouns he habitually uses.

        2. Just thinking*

          Giving benefit of doubt, and avoiding speculation: It’s possible LW has an extremely literal way of thinking, and his brain rebels at putting information in the “wrong” space. And he imagines other people are similarly literal and will read it as his name.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            Yeah, I read the letter this way – not that he’s literally afraid people are going to start calling him “John he/him PST” but that it just feels wrong to use the “name” slot for that information, like by doing so he’s really emphasizing the significance of those two bits of information to his core identity.

            It’s not the same thing, but in a weird way it reminded me of the letter we had from someone who had an employee whose first name was King and either the LW or a coworker were refusing to call him by his first name because they felt like only an actual reigning monarch of a country was allowed to be addressed as King. Similarly there I don’t think the person resisting calling the guy by his name literally felt like he would be granting King any real or perceived regnal authority by calling him by his name, but his brain just couldn’t stop feeling like it was wrong to call someone King if they weren’t a king.

            I can’t say I really understand it but I do know I’ve seen people have very strong feelings about names that often seem irrational to me – but then, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really even care if you spell my name right.

          2. margaret*

            This was how it came off to me too. Maybe if the OP reconceptualizes the request as being of great use to his coworkers, most if not all of whom will have the same formatting in their names, it will feel less wrong. Or maybe as the majority of other coworkers show up in Slack with their names augmented in that way the wrongness of it will go away and it will in fact look weird NOT to have pronouns and time zone.

            I empathize a little with OP because in Discord servers that don’t let me set pronouns in my bio I do set my username as “name (she/her)” and like, honestly, the busy-ness of how it looks irks me sometimes! But it’s more important to me to normalize pronouns than to clean up my name line.

        3. Parse*

          I get it. I was pretty bothered about putting she/her/hers in my email signature. I don’t quite get why I can’t just put “she.” I mean, everyone knows how to conjugate basic pronouns, right? And then someone helpfully pointed out that there was my privilege and it was arrogant to assume I had figured out some special grammar rule that a hundred thousand trans people hadn’t thought of yet. CHANGE!

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Am I strange that it is the time zone that would throw me? Even knowing it was the time zone in the letter I looked at the PST with a “huh?” Granted it is still a little early here. Is this becoming more common? I understand the why; I just find it very odd to put in the signature line.

        1. Clorinda*

          That sounds quite useful to me. It means that it’s very easy for everyone to figure out what time to call Fergus and have a good chance of catching him in the office. And pronoun declaration is swiftly on its way to becoming part of basic professional manners in many places.

          1. Qwerty*

            Slack already has the capability to handle timezones. I’m not sure if it is a profile setting or gets it from your device.

            When I go to message my West Coast coworker in the morning, there is a line that warns me it is 6:30am her time.

            If I publish a message with notifications to a channel, a pop-up warns me that there are X people across Y timezones in the channel, am I sure that I really want to bug all these people?

        2. Smithy*

          On the timezone bit – while it’s quite useful, depending on your region – it can also call out some other biases you have that you’ve yet to interrogate that might be newly uncomfortable.

          For example – I’m very familiar with the major Western Hemisphere acronyms…and getting better with the two Eastern Hemisphere acronyms I use most often. However, those I’m not familiar and then have to look up can lead to a little (private) personal pouting about why some things aren’t just more spoon fed for me. Now, I am clearly proactively acknowledging this bias upfront in this comment….but that notion of “ugg, just more alphabet soup” – it is worth noting that this might be a bias again thinking they should never be expecting to know the acronym for the time zone of Japan as opposed to just getting to call it “Tokyo time”.

          1. Ridiculous Penguin*

            When I lived/worked in China with people who were in the Midwest US, figuring out *which* CST they were talking about was a big mess. So sometimes the location *is* helpful depending on where your clients and coworkers are located.

              1. TeaCoziesRUs*

                The US military calls it Zulu time and abbreviates it Z+5 or Z-3. Keeps it standardized while shooing those pesky Brits out of the way. ;)

                1. TeaCoziesRUs*

                  fun link to explain why Zulu. Basically, the military alphabet calls Z “Zulu” in alpha-phonetic spelling (like Alfa, Bravo, Charlie for ABC). In creating our universal clock by GMT, we have 2400 (or Z) to GMT, then a added and subtracted from there. Combine that with the 24 hour clock and it became easier to figure out what time our flight would land after crossing multiple time zones. :)


          2. I am Emily's failing memory*

            My organization is international and many of our product vendors are based overseas, too. I’ve gotten in the habit of always declaring my time zone as “GMT -5” to any avoid ships-passing-in-the-night (specifically, the nights when some countries or states arbitrarily decide to shift their clocks an hour or forwards or backwards, which other countries might even also do, but not on the same night!) confusion.

            1. Dawn*

              Just as an FYI, I think everyone will still get it, but GMT has largely been superceded by UTC these days (same time zone, different phrasing, largely, I suspect, to not give the Brits the satisfaction.)

        3. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          I get it in LW’s context. If I saw it in the wild I’d get tripped up trying to figure out what degree or professional qualification that stands for, lol.

          1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

            Yeah, same, I’d see (CST) in a byline and think “Customer Service/Support/Sales Technician? Central Standard Time? Certified Scrum Trainer (gimmicky business method, not rowdy sportsfield interaction)?” and have to look up the person’s job title and base location anyway.

            1. Worldwalker*

              “GMT-5” or “Z-5” works better, I think. That way there’s no need to keep track of all those TLAs, especially if they’re ones you don’t use often. Plus it makes the math a lot easier. Okay, you know PST is Pacific Standard Time, but how many hours is that different from your local time? With just the TLAs you have to remember the time zones *and* their offsets; why not just list the offset?

              1. I have RBF*

                Because a lot of people don’t understand the offset, but know how to look up the time zone on Google.

                I would understand GMT-8, UTC-8, or even Z-8, but that’s because I’m a Linux Sysadmin and deal with it a lot. Most people would blank on it more than even time zones.

          2. My Useless 2 Cents*

            I think this is where I landed. While I get it would be super helpful when dealing with people in multiple time zones, I understood it was time zone because of the letter but if I just saw a random signature with PST behind it I’d be driving myself crazy trying to figure out what their professional qualification stood for.

        4. Becky*

          I recently put my time zone in my email signature – I honestly don’t know how helpful it is or if people see it but the information is there. However, I work with a lot of people in other time zones. I am in the Mountain time zone, so this means the earliest meeting times I can do are 8 AM Mountain/10 AM eastern but it also means I can do later meetings for people on Pacific time or in Hawaii.

          Though to be honest, I can never remember if we are currently in Standard or daylight savings time (MST or MDT) so I just write out “I operate in the Mountain Time Zone”

          But none of this is in my name line on our work chat (Teams).

          1. ephemerides*

            The standard/daylight issue would be my concern—does this mean people would need to change their info between PST and PDT twice a year? Or (most likely) is no one really thinking about what the “standard” in standard time actually means?

            1. Lenora Rose*

              I think most time zone abbreviations like this pretty much stay the same all year round. You could use CT instead of CST if you really felt it was a concern, but CST, if you’re a North American rather than international company, would probably click for most people as some version of “Dallas/Chicago/Minneapolis/oh yeah, I guess Manitoba too.” even if it is technically (as it is right now) on CDT.

            2. Becky*

              LOL, my coworker recently sent an email with some available times for meetings and tagged them as MST – I let her know we are currently in MDT – she hadn’t even thought about it.

            3. DataSci*

              I’ve given up nitpicking that one and assume people are using PST to mean “Pacific time” year round. I haven’t yet seen a case where they really are using it otherwise during DST.

              1. Becky*

                Now I am wondering how people in Arizona handle it – they really are in Mountain Standard year round (they don’t use daylight savings) but in effect are half the year in Mountain and half the year in Pacific.

                (And that doesn’t get into all the oddities around time zone in AZ where you have Navajo Nation areas that DO use daylight savings and the Hopi reservation surrounded by the Navajo nation that does NOT use daylight savings. Traveling across Arizona can involve your time zone flipping back and forth multiple times. )

          2. Full Banana Ensemble*

            Yes, we also added a standard line to our email signatures, now that we have so many remote workers spread out across 6 time zones. Ours reads “Based in [your state], Eastern Time Zone” (or Central, etc. – the point being that the word is spelled out, so there’s no confusion over abbreviations).

            With our HQ physically located on the west coast, we were VERY Pacific-time biased, so it’s actually been nice to see some effort to accommodate other time zones. Do I still get requests for 7pm meetings? Yes. Does our Hawaii-based employee get requests for 6am meetings? Also yes. But not as often as we used to!

        5. Worldwalker*

          I work with both co-workers and contract artists in the UK, France, Greece, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and several parts of the US. I’ve started keeping a list of them with their GMT time zone offsets so I know what time it is for any given person when I send them email or message. It gives me some idea when they’ll see it and be able to respond, even if the owl/lark differences complicate things.

          If everyone’s in the same office it’s kind of pointless, but if people are scattered all over the world, it’s useful to know their time zone.

        6. ADidgeridooForYou*

          I personally love it. With remote work becoming so much more common, I think it’s super helpful to just glance at an email signature to figure out when I can expect a response from someone. That said, if you’re used to only working with local teams, I can see how it would initially throw you off.

        7. I have RBF*

          Actually, I kind of like the time zone requirement.

          At $CurrentJob have people in multiple time zone, both in the US and Australia. In my own small group of six we have three time zones! Knowing someone’s time zone helps manage expectations of availability.

          1. Becky*

            My team has people in California, Utah, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Rhode Island (off the top of my head – I might have missed some).
            I work with clients in every time zone in the US as well as teams in the UK, and India (probably more, those are just the most prominent).

            1. Becky*

              Oops forgot finish my thought – yes seeing someone’s timezone in their signature is very helpful.

        8. Nina*

          If you’re in a company that has locations or business in different time zones – crazy useful. Some of my coworkers do non-standard hours and they have ‘Tuesday-Saturday 10-8 NZDT’ in their signature (only hurdle is changing D to S and back twice a year…)

          You don’t panic about getting emails from them in the evening, you don’t panic about them not answering your email in the morning, and it’s a reminder that 3 pm your time in Oslo is a bad time to call them.

      3. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

        I laughed out loud at ‘unless Elon Musk named you.’ Thank you for that giggle this morning.

    4. Lacey*

      Yeah. I don’t get where the OP has the idea that people will think this is their name.

      Like, either there’s some important information missing or this is just a strange conclusion to come to.

      1. AnonORama*

        I guessed that what he doesn’t want is for his emails to go to others from “Doe (he/him, PST), John.” Which still feels like a silly hill to die on.

    5. Qwerty*

      The OP never says that he thinks coworkers will assume “he/him” or “PST” is part of his legal name. The only thing that implies that is the headline, which are usually written by Alison. He is objecting to the timezone as much as the pronouns, but if it was just the timezone any non-compliance wouldn’t be much of a big deal. I wonder how different the responses would be if the directive had just been to include timezone and job title with no hot-button issue involved.

      Your example is email signature, not Slack name. Most people pay little attention to email signatures (which is probably why OP2 is the first to notice their colleague’s quote). Your name in Slack is next to everything you say in a channel. It is way more present than an email signature and I’ve seen people be a lot more touchy about their Slack display name.

      1. Meep*

        The only one who is assuming OP worries about his “legal name” is you. In his own words, he is perturbed because “John Smith (he/him)” is not his name which does indeed suggest internalized transphobia even if he doesn’t think so.

        I am not calling him a bigot, but I hope LW3 does some self-reflection, because we as humans (especially white, cishet men) internalize a lot of bigotry.

        1. Mialana*

          But “John Smith (he/him)” is, in fact, not his name. How is that transphobic?

        2. Katy*

          Wait, so you have to consider your pronouns a central and essential part of your own identity, to be announce to everyone in the same breath with your name every time you say something, or else you’re transphobic? Wouldn’t someone who’s transphobic be more attached to their assigned-at-birth pronouns, not less?

      2. Happy meal with extra happy*

        No, my example is the name, not signature. That’s specifically why I commented. (It appears in our names on Teams too and still no issue.)

    6. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      To give LW the benefit of the doubt, I will say that it’s pretty normal human behavior to get weirdly invested in things that don’t matter all that much and have feelings extremely out of proportion to the problem. That may (or may not!) be what LW is experiencing.

      Mine is when people don’t clear the time on the microwave. If I glance at the microwave clock and instead of seeing the time I see 0:05, my feelings swell up as though someone I love has literally stabbed me in the gut and told me I’m not funny. It doesn’t make any sense and I know it doesn’t make any sense!

      LW, if this is what’s happening to you the only thing you can really do is push through and try not to make it anyone else’s problem. If the majority of people follow this convention and you don’t, it will be perceived as transphobia. You do get used to it over time but it’s important to not let your outsized feelings about it impact others and try not to find a rational explanation for what is really just a human doing goofy human stuff. Your explanation really does not make sense and it’s completely fine that you have feelings with no rational basis. Happens to all of us.

      If you happen to be neurodivergent like me, there is actually a lot more support and resources for how to deal with this sort of thing since a lot of us have trouble regulating our emotional responses. But you don’t have to be neurodivergent to benefit from those tools so I’d suggest looking into that and, if you have a therapist, mention it to them!

      1. Meep*

        Ok, but the microwave thing is a legit complaint. It is just good manners. Because otherwise, you make it the next person’s problem. Same with changing the fridge dispenser back to water after you get ice.

        1. Dawn*

          In fairness, watching someone try to pour ice into their water bottle or soup cup has to be some form of stress relief.

        2. Quill*

          Assuming of course that clearing time still works on the microwave… (Source: when microwaves are only MOSTLY dead they end up in the lab for quickly boiling agars)

      2. ohnomycat*

        Fellow neurodivergent, this reminds me of reactions I often have to change. In OP’s shoes I would also feel really destabilized by the change (any change, not just pronoun related). I also tend to get really hung up on “rules” (i.e. your name should ONLY include your name, etc) even when I know it doesn’t actually matter or make any sense.

        All that said, I think your advice is great for anyone (not just neurodivergent folks).

    7. ferrina*

      Yeah, the idea that someone would get confused about whether (he/him) was part of your name was quite the stretch.

      I once put my Slack name as ferrinaaaaaaaaaa (internal joke about me being the only one with a certain letter in my name), and no one thought for a second that was actually how my name was spelled. To think they’d get confused on a pronoun in parentheses? Really?

    8. Carrots*

      I truly do not think the OP is worried that other people will be confused. I think the OP feels personally weirded out by anything other than his name appearing in a field that says, “Name”. But he’ll get used to it eventually.

    9. Infrequent Poster*

      Off topic, but is your username a reference to the Animorphs storyline? If so, I think you are officially amazing :)

    10. Not Rebee*

      Who knows if this will help but when I added my pronouns to my email signature I decreased the font size slightly. Enough that it’s noticeable but not distracting. There’s a lot of different font sizes in our signature template, so it lines up with my other info (my name is actually the largest part), so it doesn’t seem like I am minimizing it and hate having to have added it, it just ends up being about the same size as my title and address and smaller than my name

  2. Worldwalker*


    Why not put pronouns, time zone, job title, etc., on a second line?

    John Doe
    Senior Engineer (he/him) (PST)

    That would cover what the office requires, which you don’t seem to mind, without blurring it into your name, since that seems to be a sticking point.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Ah, missed that.
        Hm. Maybe a hyphen or an em-dash?

        John Doe — Senior Engineer (he/him) (PST)

        1. Myrin*

          Aah, as someone’s who can also be a bit particular about how stuff is displayed, that’s a great idea!

      2. Elle by the sea*

        Slack allows for full name, display name and title – three lines altogether. It indeed looks very awkward to display all the info in the name field. You can add the rest to the job title field.

        1. They Might Be a Giant*

          As someone whose pronouns aren’t what most people expect when they look at me: if my pronouns aren’t displayed right next to my name every time I send a message or appear on camera, 99% of people will get them wrong. (Having them front-and-center during the communication improves the success rate, but not at much as you’d think it would.) Putting them in a different line that people have to go out of their way to see is functionally equivalent to just not having them in there at all.

          So that’s why I want MY pronouns pasted all over the screen. The reason why I want other people to do it is to normalize it, so that is not just trans/nonbinary folks singling themselves out by doing it, with all the risks that entails.

          1. SoloKid*

            Pronouns help with names that aren’t common to a certain geographical area as well.

            I interact with a lot of vendors over email and just don’t know what to even assume.

            1. BigTenProfessor*

              And just names that are not very gender-specific. I have about 5 Taylors per year, and typically some are men and some are women. Putting pronouns in signatures helps cis people waaaay more than it helps trans people, by sheer numbers.

              1. Carrots*

                True!! I work with tons of international clients and cannot possible guess everyone’s pronouns from their names alone.

              2. I have RBF*

                Plus there are a lot of places where names are not gender specific. India has a lot of those. So pronouns help with cross cultural names, too.

                1. Dawn*

                  Isn’t that the truth. I grew up with a girltype-Mandeep friend and I keep getting boytype-Mandeep clients and it always throws me off their stride when I see their names before I see them.

              3. Event coordinator*

                Right? I want trans folks to have an easier time being who they are but boy howdy has the mainstream adoption of putting pronouns in email signatures helped communication to the Baileys and Rileys and Morgans of their world (and their colleagues)! Positive offshoots of inclusivity!

              4. Ray B Purchase*

                I have a Taylor that I email a few times a year for the last 4 years and literally found out 3 days ago that Taylor’s pronouns are he/him. I’ve been going out of my way to avoid pronouns just in case I got them wrong, so I’m really pleased to know them now!

      3. felis*

        I think one aspect that is being overlooked here, is that in Slack your display name doesn’t just appear at the top of your posts, it also appears in a message every time someone @-mentions you. Meaning that every time someone talks to OP, they would address him as “John Doe (he/him) (PS)”.
        From the letter I don’t think the OP believes someone could mistake the add-ons as part of his name. He just doesn’t want to be addressed with something that is not part of his name. So I think the “respect how people want to be addressed” aspect has been neglected in Alison’s answer and in this discussion. “I don’t want these things that are not part of my name to show up every time someone addresses me” is not a transphobic stance at all, quite the opposite in fact. I am a (stealth) non-binary person and I would not enjoy having any pronouns, be it my stealth or my actual pronouns, as part of how people address me.

        1. MassMatt*

          IMO requiring employees to list their pronouns is on the same spectrum as requiring which pronouns they use. And I don’t buy the “we are ‘ENCOURAGED’ to do it” nonsense. When your job is “encouraging” you and you can suffer professionally for non-compliance, that’s coercion.

          The whole point of LGBTQ+ liberation is to allow people the freedom to be themselves. Mandating that they label themselves whether they want to or not is contrary to that very principle.

        2. Dahlia*

          No one is going to be calling him “John Doe (he/him)” That’s just not going to happen. If John also only wants to be address by name, John’s going to have to put that in John’s name because most people are not going to call John only by name.

        3. The Editor-in-Chief*

          I want to read (PST) as the noise someone should make to get John Doe’s attention.

          Mine would be:
          Editor-in-Chief, (they/them) (PSPSPSPSPSPS)

      4. Noodles*

        My company used to list pronouns as past of our Slack display names, and it was admittedly pretty clunky. Eventually they figured out how to list pronouns (and local time) on people’s Slack profile instead. These are voluntarily self-reported, so they’ll only show if someone has decided to put it into the HR software. People can still add the pronouns back onto their Slack display name if they want, and we have some handy emojis available that will display them in a more compact form.

        So, there is absolutely a technical solution to all of this, but it will take someone who is savvy with the Slack API and it might depend on how your enterprise Slack is deployed (we might have a fancier version for all I know).

    1. fhqwhgads*

      #3 is a bizarre request on the part of the workplace, but not for the reasons OP is focusing on. As the letter mentioned, slack has dedicated fields for pronouns and timezones in the user profile. Sticking them in the display name sounds like a workaround for a system that doesn’t have a standard place to put that info. Given that slack does – and OP already filled in those fields- if OP wanted to push back on the policy, it’d be that it’s redundant and cluttered, not that anyone would be confused about what their name is. It’s also problematic for the reasons Alison already mentioned if “encouraged” in this context really means required, and pushing back on that is a much more worthwhile fight to fight.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This is also how Zoom works (just one line of text to identify you), and we often update our Zoom display names to indicate our department, title, and/or pronouns, depending on who is in the meeting, and how well they know us.

      1. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

        I have to do this all the time for various things:

        * My college alumni group, where we make ourselves available to incoming students to ask questions: First name (Maiden name) Married name ‘XX for class year.

        * A local city council sub-group I sit on: Marketing Unicorn, Secretary/Treasurer

        * Work: Name, Job title, department,phone extension

        * Church group: Name, languages spoken

        * My children’s (separate) schools: Name, child’s name’s mother, child’s grade

        I swear I change my Zoom once a dang week because whatever it’s set to isn’t what I need it to be.

      2. Becky*

        Yup. My company uses Teams internally, so I only use Zoom when there is a meeting that is client initiated – I have my Zoom name set to [Becky Smith – Llamas Inc.] so they know I’m the rep from an outside company.

      3. I have RBF*

        My workplace uses Zoom chat as well as Zoom video conferencing. We don’t have a habit of putting other details in our Display Name, although I’m trying to start it.

  3. Foagmlord*

    I… #3… wow

    Not a single person who sees pronouns listed on an email signature would think, “Oh his full name is John Smith He/Him PST!” as though it’s how it is written on his birth certificate as well.

    What in the world made him think that pronouns in an email signature would mean that’s their name?

    1. Me*

      Especially when it’s EVERYBODY at his work slack so that internal community is all following the same conventions

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That part is a bit confusing to me as well. If everyone is changing wouldn’t it look more odd not to match?

    2. Danni Evans*

      It isn’t in the email signature, though, it sounds like he’s supposed to change his actual name in the chat program. I don’t use Slack so idk if there are issues with the interface if names are too long or something? Otherwise, I really don’t understand why LW is so opposed … I feel like there must be some kind of personal history going on there, or maybe some weird workplace dynamic that hasn’t been described in the letter. (Does Bob in Accounting go around calling everyone by their full name and job title every time he sees them?)

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I don’t know, it makes sense to me. I wouldn’t personally care, but I can feel the difference between NAME=”John Doe (he/his)” and NAME=”John Doe” | PRONOUNS=”(he/his)”. The first one makes it part of your identity in a way the 2nd one doesn’t.

        Add a touch of pedantry about what a name is, maybe a smidgen of regular stubbornness about changing things that were perfectly fine already (his pronouns were already in his signature), and add a dash of thinking the request is stupid in the first place (what benefit is there in having pronouns displayed with every single slack message? Gender isn’t that constantly relevant) and you have a nice recipe for opposition.

        Not a hill to die on, still. But I totally get why OP #3 objects in the first place.

        1. Rebecca*

          Yes – ‘gender isn’t that constantly relevant’. I have a hard time adding pronouns to my name because I have spent a great deal of effort over the course of my life/career not drawing attention to the fact that I’m a woman. Especially if you are in a male-dominated field, constantly announcing you’re the woman in room can be … not the greatest. I want people to concentrate on the work I’m doing and am already fighting against microaggressions and dismissiveness. I welcomed environments where things could be a little more gender neutral – online, it’s possible that people don’t clock that I’m the lady-person! Adding ‘she/her’, for me, removes that layer of protection. Wanting to protect myself from micro-aggressions doesn’t make me transphobic.

          1. Nebula*

            I’m a bit confused by what you’re saying here: I get that you can be anonymous/non-gendered in online spaces in general, but in the workplace people will know/assume your gender on the basis of your name, unless it’s gender-neutral, right? So how does adding pronouns to e.g. a Slack name, as in the letter, or an email signature open you up to micro-aggressions that you wouldn’t otherwise receive on the basis of people knowing that you’re a woman through other means?

            1. Allonge*

              It brings gender to the forefront. Yes, people will assume my gender based on my name, but she/her points a big blinking arrow at gender.

              1. DarthVelma*

                Yup. People need to read up on stereotype threat and the impact on women when they and the people they’re interacting with are constantly reminded who is and is not a woman.

              2. Nebula*

                I hadn’t really thought about that in relation to cis people tbh. I’m non-binary, so I’m extremely aware that my ‘they/them’ sticks out, but I hadn’t thought about how expected pronouns might draw extra attention in other ways. Food for thought.

                1. Nebula*

                  If it helps provide extra context, people generally assume I’m a woman unless otherwise informed, so I am very aware of how people treat women in the workplace. I get the woman treatment until/unless someone finds out I’m non-binary, in which case it’s a mixed bag of neutral to bad reactions.

                2. Relentlessly Socratic*

                  In my experience, the majority of cis people (including me) using pronouns out and about are she/her, I would like more cis men to post pronouns. Usually what I see:
                  Relentlessly (she/hers)
                  Nebula (they/them)
                  Sherry (she/hers)

            2. cabbagepants*

              I’m also a woman in a mostly male workplace. With time and effort, I can establish myself as “cabbagepants, fellow engineer” even though I have a feminine-coded name. Putting in pronouns feels like it could be a step back, at least temporarily, to “cabbagepants, the one woman in this Slack channel.”

              1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

                Same. I’m in a male-dominated industry. My full name is clearly feminine but the nickname I’ve used most of my life is unisex but more male-associated. Think Sam/Samantha. When applying for jobs, I conscientiously don’t use my full name on my resume, etc. to avoid bias. My full name is in my email address, but people rarely look at that until they have at least a general idea of whether they want to interview me.

            3. TechWorker*

              I work with people from all over and I’m pretty sure lots of them think I’m male before they meet me (even though it’s only ever a women’s name). I think I’ve been lucky in that *mostly* I don’t notice people treating me differently due to gender – but I definitely feel like I have to rely on title/grade and dress smartish whereas some of my more senior male colleagues join meeting in hoodies.

            4. ThatGirl*

              I have a friend/coworker who is nonbinary (agender/genderqueer) and uses they/them pronouns. They are, as far as I know, the only person in our department or company currently identifying that way. So it’s a balance for them in terms of both wanting to be identified correctly but also not constantly wanting to be the odd person out.

              1. Nebula*

                Yes, I’m non-binary and have struggled with the pronouns in email signature thing because there’s quite a difference for me doing it as opposed to a cis person who is never misgendered anyway. It’s more widespread (though not universal) at my current workplace, so it feels less like I stick out than I have done at previous workplaces where basically only people who really cared about EDI did it, but tbh I think my feeling more comfortable being openly non-binary in this workplace has far more to do with other factors. It’s complex for sure.

                1. Ace in the Hole*

                  I have mixed feelings about putting my pronouns in an email signature, but I’d be far more comfortable with that than with putting them in my display name on chat.

                  I think the key for me is that an email signature usually contains various as-needed info (phone/fax number, company address, etc.) and comes at the end of the message, where it feels less prominent. Whatever’s there is coded as “useful and important but not necessarily critical for any given interaction.”

                  Putting it in a display name sticks it right at the top of every message and makes it literally a part of my identity as important as my name for the duration of the interaction in a way email sigs don’t. I don’t want to be “Ace, THE WOMAN” for every message I send. Having that level of emphasis on gender makes me very uncomfortable even among friends, much less at work/school.

            5. Lacey*

              It’s just not wanting it to be constantly on people’s minds. Like every time that misogynist you work with sees your chat they’re reminded of why they think you’re incapable of doing your job.

              I’m not sure that it would actually change anything, but I understand the feeling that it keeps you from the possibility of more neutral treatment.

            6. Texan In Exile*

              I worked with people outside of my company and outside of the US, where my name did not necessarily make it obvious to them that I am a woman. Indeed, I got many emails addressed to “Mr Texan,” which was actually fine, because in the encounters I had where it was clear I am a woman – skype calls where the men on the other end could hear my voice – the misogyny was sooooooo strong. I was very happy to have people not know I am a woman. It made my work easier.

            7. Salsa Your Face*

              People DON’T assume that I’m a woman based on my name, which *can* be given to women, but tends to lean male. My direct colleagues know who I am, but my clients and vendor contacts don’t, and I kind of like it that way. I feel like I get more respect.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I think that definitely falls under Alison’s reasoning as to why it should be encouraged but not required. There’s room for debate that it’s good for you to openly represent the fact that your team is not, in fact, all men, but ‘I don’t want people to know my gender for personal reasons’ is the umbrella that’s covered by the last parenthetical.

          3. MigraineMonth*

            Interesting, I actually lean into the fact that I’m a woman in a male-dominated field. (Possibly because I get mistaken for being in a non-technical role.) Sort of a “Hi, yes, I’m a woman, and I’m here doing great work in [field].”

            I fully support you in not adding pronouns if that feels like outing yourself (as trans or as a cis woman); that’s one of the reasons these initiatives should be encouraged but never required.

          4. Michelle Smith*

            I empathize. I’m in a role where I need to build trust with clients from all over the country, including those who are skeptical or outright hostile to the idea of expanding gender identity beyond the binary. I absolutely hate the push to declare my pronouns in my email/Slack/Zoom. I either have to lie and say my pronouns are she/her or I have to out myself by declaring that my pronouns are they/them. I don’t want to do either. I really don’t quite get LW3’s issue with the pronouns being in the name field, because I haven’t put my pronouns anywhere (despite organizational encouragement) and don’t really know what it would look like. But I really wish organizations would not pressure people to always post their pronouns. I don’t want to do it because I’m trans and don’t want that to be what new clients and coworkers learn first about me, My refusal is not because I’m transphobic.

          5. Qwerty*

            Yeah, I really don’t need to be constantly reminded that I’m the only woman. Those reminders make work life really isolating. Plus when my coworkers get that reminder, they act a bit weird for a bit (either attempting to overcompensate for the awkwardness or unconscious microaggressions like suddenly doubting me more).

            I can’t imagine how uncomfortable I would be if every message in every group chat highlighted that they were all men. Recent conversations with higher ups would have been harder if every message from the director or VP had been paired with a reminder that they are a dude and I’m a lady because I wouldn’t be able to stop my mind from wondering how gender dynamics were affecting the convo. I definitely would have to be less assertive on Slack – it always goes poorly when there is a combination of me being assertive/authoritative + some reminder of my ladyness.

            1. Allonge*


              I certainly hope that it would be helpful for trans or non-binary folks, but all it would do for me right now, every time a director is mentioned or messages something, is to take my blood pressure up. I know very well that everyone in our top two layers of management is a man, thank you very much.

          6. Becky*

            Interesting – I hadn’t thought of that. I am in a department where there’s maybe about 60 people and while the developers skew heavily male, there are a number of women in many roles in the department. I started putting my pronouns in my email signature because I work with a lot of clients who are from other cultures where my name isn’t immediately recognized as a common feminine one and have been misgendered multiple times. (I have also gotten a number of maamsir’s which was a bit puzzling the first time I encountered it.)

            1. Rebecca*

              Honestly, I would prefer the error of thinking I am a man and calling me ‘sir’ than the error of thinking I’m bad at my job or not worth listening to while calling me ‘ma’am’. I’ll take the ‘sir’. Before my curves became so…curvy, I was misgendered and asked to leave a woman’s bathroom a few times, and, yep – I’ll still take the ‘sir’ over being condescended to.

              1. Texan In Exile*

                While I was on a skype call with a man in another country, interviewing him for a training position with my organization, he was taking another call at the same time.

                I suggested that we reschedule, as it appeared he was busy.

                He PUT HIS HAND UP TO THE CAMERA and said “STOP NO WE DO THIS NOW.”

                I was so shocked that I didn’t even know what to say. I knew right then that we were not going to hire him, but I sent a private message to the other person – a co-worker in Dubai – who was interviewing this guy with me that I wanted to continue the interview just to see how bad it would get.

          7. BethDH*

            This was the first thing I thought of as well. I don’t want my gender identity at the front of people’s minds when they think of me. I don’t put my academic titles in my name fields for related reasons, though I probably would if my gender were there because then I’d need to work even harder to be seen as an equal.
            Also if I had any sense of ambivalence about my gender identity, having it show up every time I type something sounds awful in a way having it in my profile or signature doesn’t.

          8. E*

            I completely agree with this. I am also a female in a male dominated industry and would not want the constant focus of that fact in every interaction. It’s hard enough to be taken seriously and feel like a part of the team without reminding everyone that I am almost always the only female around. The guys I work with are generally great, but there is still always the not quite fit in feeling for me in the background. I just want to be myself and be judged on my knowledge. That being said, anyone who wants their pronouns shown should certainly be able to do so without being questioned or feeling like it is a strange thing to do. But please remember that just because I personally do not want to do something doesn’t mean that I’m against others doing it or have hatred/bad feelings towards those who do. (This goes for so much more than pronouns too) The comments of today’s post have let me down, way too much instant judgement on how the LW actually feels.

        2. Zephy*

          Re “gender isn’t that constantly relevant” –

          As a person who spends a lot of time in several Discord servers, I do actually regularly need to check what pronouns to use in reference to other server members. Mostly because it’s fandom Discord and not a work Slack, all of us have profile pictures that are not professional headshots and most of us are using display names that aren’t, you know, typical human names (like…Zephy). In a work Slack, your PFPs are probably going to be headshots, and you probably are using your government names or something close to. But, there are ambiguous names in every culture, those PFPs are teeny tiny, and you also can’t tell a person’s gender just by looking at them, the same way you can’t tell their favorite food just by looking at them.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            For some reason, my workplace uses Discord, and some of my coworkers decided (for no reason I can figure out) to reuse their personal account. So my coworkers are listed as (for example) “John Doe”, “Jane Smith”, “Headshot” and “Mango Boy”, and the profile icons are all over the place.

    3. Testcase*

      I work for a company with an odd naming convention. Everyones name in email from/to and in Teams is surname,firstname.

      Its odd at first and takes a bit to get used to (one of my colleagues has a surname that can be a first name, and occasionally gets emails from new joiners beginning hi surname) but people get used it.

      OP #4 People are going to get used to and especially if its a naming convention your whole company uses

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        Ours puts all out initials in team calls etc as team initial, surname initial, which I still find baffling every time I join a call and I’m the only one it because I think it’s someone else. I’ll get used to it eventually!

        The only thing that would cause me confusion about someone having pronouns next to their name is if their surname could also be a pronoun. I can see why Mike He might worry people think Mike He He/Him was a typo.

        1. LarryFromOregon*

          Except LW said the convention included parentheses and lowercase pronouns, so your example would be: Mike He (he/him) (PST)”

      2. umami*

        I’ve had that done too, and it looks especially weird because my surname is also a royal title, so when seen like that it looks … weird.

    4. Roscoe da Cat*

      Hey, we have to put Country Initials – Last name, first name which means you get a bunch of people having:

      JP – name, name
      US – name, name

    5. AlsoADHD*

      It’s for Slack but same deal. Honestly, I know the pronouns are the touchier issue, but as someone who can never remember what time zone people are in, I was thrilled when my company went to putting Time Zones in names in Slack (pronouns aren’t in our templates there but are in the email signature template) and I do get irritated with people who don’t put the time zone in IF they care about what time they’re contacted. I had someone who didn’t use the standard recently get snippy that thinks everyone should investigate their time zone. Generally the attitude is you’re happy to come to meetings or be contacted in ANY of our time zones if you don’t list yours (this is true of a few people I know who work flexibly, and some even list multiple time zones). But some people think they’re too important for that every once and awhile, don’t post, but then get snippy when their TZ isn’t considered.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      I believe the LW that he’s not bigoted and already put his pronouns in his Slack profile.

      To me it just sounds like he’s taking things really really literally. It reminds me of when I explained to my kindergartener “DON’T DO THAT! PERIOD!” and the 5yearold became obsessed with explicitly pronouncing the punctuation at the end of every spoken sentence (period). Clearly it was meant as a one-off thing for emphasis, but maybe it wasn’t because it was new and different to my 5yearold yay exclamation point open parenthesis ugh close parenthesis

      LW, do people call you First Name Last Name, or just First Name? Maybe you have a cool nickname or got teased about your name as a kid. I was. I get it. I take some things literally, too. But no one will call you “open parentheses he slash him close parantheses”. If they do, they’re the weird ones. you can just say, “uh, you know my name is just First Name, right?” and they’ll stop. It’ll be ok.

        1. Observer*

          No, they aren’t, which is why turning this int0 an issue is so weird. But it is kind of hard to say that it’s bigotry because they do have their pronouns in their profile, so it’s clear that they are ok with the concept.

          But I can totally see why anyone who doesn’t know that the pronouns are already in the profile would see it that way. Because it’s hard to figure out why they are having quite such an issue with this. Absent the pronouns already in the profile, I would definitely think that the issue is bigotry.

          1. Allonge*

            Gently: people’s names can be just as essential part of their identity as their preferred pronouns.

            It’s really ok for OP to feel strongly about what is displayed as their name; and similarly ok to be doubtful about requested/pressured to make gender part of that. The fact that OP may not have found the right words to express this does not make it untrue.

            That still probably does not make this the hill to die on!

            1. MsSolo (UK)*

              Yes, if you’ve already got issues with the way people treat your name – mispronouncing it, deadnaming you – that’s been dealt with badly in the past (why can’t you just spell it the obvious way? Why can’t you just put your deadname in as well so people know it’s still you?) being pressured to add things to their name could be more upsetting.

              That said, we have no indication that’s what’s going on her, especially deadnaming, so it’s a lot more probable that LW is not 100% comfortable with their company’s pronoun conventions and this has tipped that over into a Bitch Eating Crackers moment.

              1. Allonge*

                Of coure we don’t have any indication that that is what’s going on, but let me push back a little again because it does not have to be anything as horrendous as deadnaming: I don’t have any trauma related to my name (mis-spelled often but I am used to it).

                I love my name. It’s a 1000 times larger part of my identity than my gender, (which is also very boring and non-traumatic). There are a dozen reasons for this, but to me personally putting my pronouns has the same relevance as it would be putting my height. It’s not something I see as relevant.

                I am aware this is a privileged position! And yet, while I fully support everyone’s right to identify as they wish and express that, I would appreciate to get similar respect. Honestly, I see myself coming to the same conclusion as OP, that my preferred pronouns are perfectly accessible in my profile, which takes all of 5 seconds to access, and my name is my name and does not need additional info.

                1. My name is my gender*

                  Thank you. I agree with this take completely and thank you for expressing it much more clearly than I would have.
                  I don’t care about my gender at all (call me any pronoun you want, I won’t feel offended or alienated), but my name is (a big part of) my identity. I still wouldn’t raise the problem as LW does, because we all know that’s a convention; but so are pronouns: they are conventions. So why is someone who declares their pronouns brave, and an ally, while the LW is considered a transphobe and a bigot for caring about his name?

                2. Lily Potter*

                  All of this, right down to the often mis-pronounced last name!

                  Seeing someone’s pronouns every time they Slack me would be annoying…..kind of like people whose Outlook settings automatically add their FULL email signature (contact numbers! pronouns! personal motto in quote form!) to every reply after the first in a conversation. Got it the first time, thanks.

                3. Silver Robin*

                  This is actually to Lily Potter because I was surprised about the issue with signatures. My manager literally told me earlier this week to instruct incoming interns to *always* include the signature block, no matter what. It makes the info easier to find, instead of having to dig all the way back to the first email.

                  I kind of see including pronouns the same way, it ensures immediate, easy reminders so that folks do not interrupt their flow clicking back through profiles to get it right. Yes it is only five seconds and not a huge deal, but I am not sure how easy Slack makes it to go between profiles/chats and I have definitely had experiences with apps that make it annoying. On the other hand, I am sure folks will learn the pronouns of those they speak to most often so this is definitely more for rarer interactions, thus reducing the amount of clicking back and forth. None of this is a big enough issue to make a strong stand on it either way, of course! And I do agree with Allison on pronouns being encouraged, not required.

                4. br_612*

                  This is. . . the same logic people use to say that “cis” is a slur (it very much is not, it’s a description). That they just want to be respected the same way trans people want their pronouns respected.

                  The entire point of pronouns in signatures is to allow nonbinary people and trans men and women who don’t “pass” (which is . . .kind of a problematic concept on its own) to preemptively state their gender identity to avoid unintentional misgendering. Cis people including theirs as well just helps normalize it.

                  If we’d always done this, always included pronouns in signatures and display names, would it bother you? I’m guessing probably not. It would just be a normal, respectful, part of every day life. So why does it bother you now? No one thinks it’s your name. You say gender isn’t relevant to you. But I’m guessing it is in ways you just don’t recognize, due to your acknowledged privilege. Like a white person saying race isn’t relevant to them. It absolutely IS relevant to them, they just don’t see it because they aren’t disadvantaged due to it. But their race factors into how they’re treated by strangers, it factors into how they interact with the police and other government agencies, it factors into how comfortable they are every single second they are outside of their own community.

                  Gender shouldn’t matter. Race shouldn’t matter. But it absolutely does, and the priveleged wanting to believe it doesn’t helps no one.

                5. Allonge*


                  Does it really matter that much if my pronouns are in the name field or in the profile field? That’s what makes me a bigot? That’s what would make other people safe(r)?

                  I would do as the company directs, and genuinely hope it’s helpful to someone. But can we please treat this as a bit more complex issue than the binary of horrendous bigotry / saintly open-mindedness?

                6. Sunshine Gremlin*

                  Your gender not really mattering is kind of why people want this normalized. Your gender being just a random field on a form for you is wonderful and we want that to be a possibility for anyone that wants to think of their gender that way. Trans people don’t just get to be a checkmark and otherwise not think of it. They have people call them the wrong thing, other them by specifically not just allowing it to be a single fact about them, and in many cases, have people tell them it isn’t valid.

                  We *want* to reach a point where Sam’s gender isn’t a defining feature for them at work. We *want* to reach a point where people default to “Mx.” if the honorific is unknown, much like people currently default to “Ms.” for femme people you don’t know the marriage status of. We *want* to reach a point where Fergus isn’t calling Sam “Samantha” despite not having “Samantha” as their Slack name. But we don’t. So, one of the ways to get there, is for those of us that don’t really care to normalize these steps so when Fergus is being bananapants, we all see it as bananapants instead of justifying why changes are so hard on him.

              2. Observer*

                Yes, if you’ve already got issues with the way people treat your name – mispronouncing it, deadnaming you

                There is nothing to say that that’s what is going on here.

                But I *can* talk to the mispronunciation and other name related nonsense. My name is not hard to pronounce in English, Yiddish or Hebrew. (I believe that it’s not hard in other languages, but I am not a linguistics expert so I won’t say that with any certainty.) Yet I have had people speaking those languages mangle my name in ways I could never have expected. I’ve been given a lot of “information” about my name, including being instructed that my is actually not a name.

                But that’s not what is going on here. He’s saying that his name is being presented as something it’s not, which I would have ton of sympathy for if that was what were happening. But that is not what is happening. What *is* happening is that the organization is deciding to use the field labeled “name” as something more expansive.

                Essentially the org would probably prefer having 3 fields – name, pronouns and time zone. Since Slack doesn’t have them and the company wants that information front and center, they decided to repurpose the name field as an “Information about the Person” field.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              Gently: it’s not people’s “preferred pronouns”. It’s their pronouns.

              1. Random Dice*

                I’ve always heard it as preferred pronouns. And I know a lot of trans and nonbinary folks.

            3. Anne Elliot*

              “People’s names can be just as essential part of their identity as their preferred pronouns.”

              Just chiming in to endorse this. I sign my name “Anne Elliot,” not “Anne Philomena Elliot” or “Anne P. Elliot.” I am not ashamed of my middle name, I just don’t use it. And I am deeply bugged by people and things (like mailing lists and governments) that insist on addressing me by a form of my name that I don’t use or, worse, try to tell me what my “proper name” actually is, as if I’m not in charge of that. I do feel strongly about it, because it touches directly on how I identify myself and on my personal agency to decide that. So I get taking issue with how a signature is presented, but I also think there should be room to recognize when maybe the concern is being overblown (by me), is just me being overly touchy, or just isn’t a hill worth dying on. But people do feel strongly about stuff like this, and while their feelings may not be wholly rational, that doesn’t necessarily make them bigoted either.

            4. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

              You know this is a great interpretation. The OP seems to feel strongly that including his pronouns and time zone is not his name. Being that this is for slack I wonder if it might help the OP to re-think the name area on slack as not a space for just his name, but a way for others to know more about him. Like a TLDR line for his slack profile.

        2. ohnomycat*

          This is such a jump based on what is in the actual letter and is quite uncharitable. I thought we were supposed to take OP at their word here…

      1. Suli*

        I believe that the OP believes they are not transphobic.

        I don’t believe they are right.

          1. M2*

            What an awful thing go say about someone you don’t know all because they don’t want pronouns in their signature!

            I know plenty of people who have and don’t have them for a variety of reasons.

            1. fnord*

              Pushing back against a pro trans policy, in this political climate, would be transphobic. Privately thinking the policy is dumb, that’s fine. But don’t make a stink about something that’s meant to be pro trans.

              1. An office plant*

                …except a lot of trans and nonbinary people also push back on these things because you are asking them to either out themselves or to purposely ask people to misgender you, all so the cis people can feel all cozy about how inclusive they are.

              2. AFAB Enby*

                Speaking as a nonbinary trans person who knows better than to come out at work in our current society and political climate: this is not a pro-trans policy. Requiring people to ID their gender is literally never pro-trans. Either we’re being forced to out ourselves, or we’re being forced to lie in yet another situation to protect ourselves. Either way, we’re probably already exhausted.

                I don’t have any comments on OP#3 specifically, but I needed to push back on the “requiring people to use pronouns is pro-trans, actually!” stance. Because it is absolutely the exact opposite of that.

                1. Pugetkayak*

                  Agreed. I am of an ethnicity that is referred to or spelled differently now all of a sudden, when the majority of people the same ethnicity do not use or even agree with. I feel like its the majority ethnic people who decided to come up with it. This happens in several different minority spaces and it’s always annoying. Feels like people patting themselves on the back and judging others, when it’s actually worse sometimes than what “not aware” people are doing because it’s so pretentious and sometimes bordering on aggressive.

                2. Anne Elliot*

                  As a cis onlooker on these issues, I would also respectfully mention that things like “identifying your gender in your email signature” can be literally less than the very least that a person could do. It’s an opportunity for privileged people like me to feel like we are allies when actually we have done nothing whatsoever. It’s the electronic version of an environmental bumper sticker on an SUV.

              3. Sandi*

                Adding another voice to the chorus of non-binary queer folks who think that the policy is anti-trans because it forces people to mention their gender. If this was a policy in my workplace I would be so angry and would refuse.

                1. An office plant*

                  Yeah…at best, this is intended for cis people to feel helpful (rather than actually bothering to check if it is helpful). The kind of company who creates an ad about how they’re interested in diversity but then BSOD when you ask them in an interview what they do te *retain* non-white, non-men, non-straight people.

              4. What even*

                Wait… what? So, we shouldn’t push back on stupid policies if they are politically correct, regardless of their effectiveness or any unintended consequences?

              5. Gritter*

                Going to have to hard disagree with this. People should absolutely feel empowered to openly push back on policies they disagree with without the threat of being subject to knee jerk accusations of bigotry for doing so.

              6. Nina*

                Some ‘pro trans’ policies are not actually all that helpful to trans people.

                Making pronoun sharing mandatory is one of them. Make it normal, yes. Mandatory, no. Making it mandatory means some people will be stuck with the option of ‘come out before I’m ready or actively invite people to misgender me’, both of which suck.

                /am not trans and I’m just passing on a perspective shared with me by trans friends.

            2. Rach*

              I’m hugely supportive of the rights of trans people (my daughter’s best friend since kindergarten is trans and I love him to death), I have my pronouns on my badge and email signature. I would not like to have my pronouns in my screen name. It’s redundant and visual clutter. That absolutely does not make me a bigot and that’s such a rude thing to say to a LW.

        1. Melissa*

          I thought one of the commenting rules was not to make up negative stuff about the writers— especially if it directly opposite to what they stated.

          1. Elly*

            Agreed. I will honestly never submit a letter to be published due to the way some commenters are here.

        2. Surprised*

          Only listing one’s pronouns in one place instead of two on an online form is enough to label someone a bigot?

          1. Observer*

            Exactly this.

            I think we need to accept that people can be very odd without being bigoted.

          2. ADidgeridooForYou*

            I think one of the issues with modern-day activism is that we put people into one of two extreme positions: either you’re an ally, or you’re a bigot. There’s no in-between. In reality, there are a lot of shades of gray – people can support, say, pro-trans legislation, but push back on including pronouns in emails. There’s likely some internalized transphobia that the individual needs to work on, but I don’t think labeling them a bigot or transphobe is going to help them on that journey. And let’s be real – none of us is the perfect ally to everyone, and we all have biases we need to address in some way, shape, or form.

            Of course, it goes without being said that there are many people who are actually bigots, and they should be called out. But I don’t think people’s automatic reaction to jump to the biggest extreme is always warranted.

            1. Gritter*

              I agree, there really is something rather unthinking and conformist about much modern day activism. Especially regarding this binary ‘with us or against us’ attitude that seems increasingly prevalent and which makes nuanced positions extremely difficult to express without being accused of being ‘phobic’.

              Many people simply feel afraid to speak their minds.

            2. An office plant*

              What I find very interesting about this comment section is how few people are interacting with the people who point out that they don’t want to put their pronouns in their name or signature for various reasons, like me just…genuinely not being sure.

              I’ve mentioned this below, but the default assumption being that I must be a bigot for resisting putting my pronouns anywhere (let alone so prominently such as in the same that pops up with every single message I send) is essentially shoving me into the closet. I’m still not “having a gender in the correct way”, so I’m not valid. I just need to shut up and sit in my closet until I am deemed acceptable enough to come out.

              I am so tired of this.

        3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          Diversity means having tolerance and curiosity for people who merely think differently* from you. People love to go on about diversity and then stomp down hard on anyone who does not conform to the norm. There are people who are very literal thinkers.

          *By merely, I mean as in this case, is a very literal thinking or rigid about how they do things, not Proud Boy type thoughts.

      2. Good Luck*

        I sort of understand the LW and his literalness – my version is that the redundancy in “he/him” (verses just “he”) drives me nuts in the way a misspelling or typo might for others. Every time I see it in my signature I scrunch up my nose because the “/him” does not need to be there!

        However I just keep that in my head because somehow the world decided that’s what it’s going to be and this is not the hill to die on (people are literally dying on other hills!). I hope the LW can get to the same place.

        1. Electric Sheep*

          It may make you feel better about the convention when you think about how it started (& still supports) to help teach people how to use pronouns they might be less familiar with (like zie/zir) and then that formatting also applies to he/him. So redundant for people familiar with those pronouns but not redundant in other situations.

          1. Audrey Puffins*

            Also, there are people who use a mix of pronouns, such as she/they, and just having one of those options as the default can feel as bad as being completely misgendered all together, so this convention facilitates that too

            1. Timothy (TRiG)*

              That’s a good reason not to do it. No one, to my knowledge, wants to be called she in the subjective case but they in the objective case (which wouldn’t make sense, as that should be them). If they’re writing she/they, then they’re saying that both options are acceptable in both cases. There’s an implied acceptance of both the she/her/her/hers pronoun set and the they/them/their/theirs pronoun set. So formatting this the same as he/him (which implies acceptance of he/him/his/his) is just confusing.

              1. Nebula*

                It’s just the convention we’ve landed on for pronouns, that you put two down with a slash in the middle. It’s arbitrary, but no more arbitrary than making a distinction between ‘Yours sincerely’ and ‘Yours faithfully’ depending on how you address a letter, or the million other conventions we have in writing and speech.

              2. *kalypso*

                The other version is to indicate alternate conjugations, which is a thing, e.g. ze/zir, ze/hir, xie/xir, xie/xem. In some cases it will expand out further, e.g. ze/zir/zirs, xe/xem/xyr, if that extra information is judged as useful.

        2. Dr. Hyphem*

          I was told it started as a convention because it mirrors when we include pronouns in introductions. Depending on factors such as an individual’s speech or hearing “she” and “he” can sometimes be easy confused, whereas “him” and “her” cannot. Thus if I introduce myself and say “she/her” it is easier to tell, and it just kind of made the jump to written as well.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Similarly, in writing, I think the “he/him” format has the advantage of being obviously A Set Of Pronouns and not just, like, one stray word on a line by itself that could be mistaken for a typo or editing error.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        I know this wasn’t what you meant, but I do want to point out that there are a bunch of neurospicy reasons why someone might remain really literal for the rest of their days (I am not talking about the OP necessarily, I just want to emphasise that being very literal is not restricted to five year olds!) It’s really easy for some of us to just say ‘oh obviously people will just infer x and y’, but some people actually can’t. Even if you’re totally neurotypical and just happen to be very literally inclined – that’s allowed! Even if the very-literal person knows that logically people will ‘get it’ when something isn’t literal or clear, it can still be very annoying to them personally, and it’s reasonable for them to ask for a temperature check on it.

        1. ohnomycat*

          As a neurospicy (and very literal) person this whole thread is a master class on how we should NOT jump to certain assumptions. There are many many reasons OP would be bothered by this (still not the hill to die on) and the fact that his “weirdness” is making folks jump to BIGOT is so disheartening. I will never write in at this point because I know the commenters will find the least charitable view of my own weirdness if I ever do.

      4. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        Yes, I don’t think the OP means anything bad by it. I think he is used to doing things one way (having info on his profile) and is thinking very literally that people will be confused.

    2. Baron*

      I don’t think refusing to list your pronouns is inherently transphobic in a hateful sense. I do think it will seem that way to some people who don’t have the context. I have a colleague who opts out of including pronouns in his e-mail signature for religious reasons. People assume things.

      I do also think that the trend toward sharing pronouns does make things better for trans people, and to prioritize something over that could reasonably seem transphobic to some.

    3. Spicy Tuna*

      I had severe OCD when I was in my teens and early 20’s. 30 years on, I am thankfully over it, but there are still random things that absolutely drive me around the bend that I will twist tie myself in knots to “fix”. These mostly relate to the way things are formatted. I removed the automatic signature from my work email because of the way it was formatted. It was literally causing me to lose sleep. I take an extra minute or so to add my own signature to each and every email. Is it important? Not to anyone but me!

      My dad is retired but gives presentations on various topics at senior centers, libraries, high schools, etc. He used to give me a preview of his presentations but had to stop because his lack of consistent formatting (“fontinuity”!) was so distracting, I had no substantive feedback to give him and instead kept interrupting him to FIX THE THING THAT WASN’T LINED UP PERFECTLY!

      I am guessing that the OP has a tic about this and isn’t actually transphobic.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        The lack of tolerance for different mindsets from some commentators is just amazing to me. There’s a whole bunch of neurospicy reasons someone could be more literal than others, and saying “Oh people will just infer stuff, and you know that” when, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. You can also just be literally minded or bugged easily by formatting, even when you know other people will get it logically. OP is allowed to have individual preferences and to ask for a temperature check on how bugged he can be openly that there isn’t a separate field for pronouns.

        1. Baron*

          I see where you’re coming from. It’s tough, for sure.

          People end up talking past each other on issues like these a lot of the time. My thing is – as a neurodivergent person – that there are societal norms we all simply have to adhere to, at the risk of being thought ill of. I’m at work right now. My “individual preference” would be to be wearing pyjamas rather than a suit. But here I am, doing the thing I don’t want to do.

          Of course OP is allowed to ask for a temperature check on how bugged he can be openly. And he’s received one.

  4. No Strange Hills*

    While I personally don’t think including pronouns is an issue at all, already seeing a lot of negativity towards LW # 3. Just a reminder to all that per the *very first commenting rule*:

    1. Be kind to letter-writers and fellow commenters. If you wouldn’t say it to someone while you were a guest in someone’s home and still expect to be invited back, don’t say it here. That means:
    • Give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to a negative interpretation of someone’s comment or situation; assume good faith on the part of others.

    1. One green bottle*

      I don’t see why he shouldn’t be taken in good faith like others would be.
      I think it’s possible there is some internal struggle with his bosses’ instruction – that it gives him a cognitive/conceptual disconnect feeling he hasn’t been able to articulate to himself yet. He had pronouns on his profile of his own choice before it was made a thing, so it’s really unlikely to be bigotry.
      Maybe it’s exactly what he says – he associates his slack title with his name and is discombobulated to have to “change his name” in his mind. Stranger things have happened. I get irrationally upset whenever someone either takes a bit of food from my plate or adds a bit of food without asking me first – my brain gets upset because my dominion over this discrete territory (my plate) has been changed. Brains do this stuff sometimes.

      1. coffee*

        Maybe it’s a reaction to a series of decisions he disagrees with, and this one is just the symptom of the problem? “Yet another change that doesn’t add anything new”, for example. If so, perhaps it’s time to start job hunting.

        1. Angstrom*

          The first response to being pushed is often to push back.
          There have been things at work I didn’t mind doing on my own, but being told to do them was irritating.

          1. misspiggy*

            Absolutely. I don’t think I’d do well with pronouns being required. I’m old and had pronouns imposed growing up like everyone else. I don’t have the tools to decide what I am now.

            Unless you can be very free to say, pronouns = honestly no idea, I’d be very uncomfortable putting mine out there at work.

            1. I have RBF*

              I’ve seen people who really don’t care what pronouns get used put “JQ Doe (any/any)” as their name and pronouns.

    2. M2*

      Thank you! This! The awful things h am seeing written is horrendous. Plenty of people don’t have pronouns in their signature and it doesn’t make them transphobic! I know someone very close to be who is trans who refuses to use them, does that make them transphobic or a bigot?! To even mention that in the answer to me makes me want to take a break from Ask a Manager

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        Yeah I agree. I also have my pronouns i in my slack profile but not my name. I wouldn’t like it either because then every time I’m @ed it would be @unfettered scientist (she/her/hers) (pst) which is long and calls attention to my gender in a way that makes me uncomfortable. Also no one should be forced to put their pronouns so much at the forefront.

        1. Unfettered scientist*

          It’s like if my slack name were “unfettered scientist (woman)” I’d feel kind of squished out and the pronouns remind me of that.

      2. Elly*

        I took a break from the comments section awhile back for a year (I still read the posts though). I think it’s time for one again.

        1. Surprised*

          Agreed. This comment section isn’t always as friendly as it purports to be. Sometimes I need to step away for awhile, too.

          Alison’s advice is always good. But I admire the brave souls with enough courage to submit a question for her to answer. I wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of the commentariat unless I was absolutely sure my question was one they would approve of.

        2. Yoghurt ok*

          I took a break from AAM recently for this reason. I find that it’s particularly issues to do with gender identity that bring on pile-ons where some commentators take the absolute worst interpretation of someone’s words and then react cruelly. I wonder if it has to do with trauma, but i don’t understand it and it depresses the hell out of me.

    3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Thank you for this. I’m thinking of a guy I have worked with who is just unable to think outside the box at all. He can follow the script on what his job requires but when things go sideways, he’s helpless. I could see someone like him not liking this change because a name is a name and for no other reasons. Lack of nuance is not the same as advocacy.

      1. Yoghurt ok*

        That’s a looovely last sentence – it encapsulates something and gets me thinking.

  5. Bluz*

    #2. Holy cow. How did that signature fall through the cracks? Our organization has a policy on signatures down to the type of font and font size we’re all supposed to use so we’re all consistent. If your organization doesn’t have one you might want to bring it up. If I was a client and saw that I would have alarm bells ringing in my head.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      We have a few Star Wars and StarTrek fans at the hospital system I work for – and none of them are using weapon or war quotes in their signatures. There are plenty of those around….betting this person just grabbed a Mandolorian Quote because it’s the popular current Star Wars show; but still no excuse.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I don’t know. You would have to be extremely dim to not realize what you’re doing here. I think it’s more likely they do intend it the way it seems and will pretend to be innocent and not understand, if they’re called out.

        1. EPLawyer*

          DING, DING, DING. They went with a quote from a popular show so they could just say But I really love the show, I didn’t mean anything by the quote.

          When there are plenty of OTHER better known quotes from the show. As noted below This is the Way has become pretty widespread.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            I would love an email signature that used “I have spoken” as its Mandalorian quote. As the closer for an email, that would be hilarious.

            1. Silver Robin*

              Oh I am beyond tempted to do this now, but I do not trust that enough of my coworkers have watched the show to know I am being facetious and not self-important.

              1. Observer*

                That’s a really important point.

                Using pop culture references in your email sig has some significant downsides. And the fact that people might not “get” it is one of them. Unless you* have decided the people who don’t share your interest in that aspect of culture are not people you care about. Which is not great in (almost) any situation, but especially problematic in a workplace.

                1. Observer*

                  I left out the last line which should have been

                  *you = Generic You, not specifically any one person.

            2. not a hippo*

              That is genius and I wish I could steal it. Unfortunately most of my emails are polite but grouchy emails to vendors so I think it would just come across as flippant.

        2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          I don’t actually think that’s true. A lot of people are still moving through the world feeling safe and protected, especially people who don’t belong to any identity group that’s seen targeted threats and acts of violence, who are in insular communities, or who don’t pay a lot of attention to the news.

          You don’t have to be dim or malicious so much as cocooned in privilege. The reason why this person did this doesn’t materially change what needs to happen – the signature needs to be removed and this person as well as their supervisor need some coaching on the world they are actually living in – but I don’t think there are obvious assumptions we can make about motive.

          I just always like to remember when I see this stuff that if we aren’t intentional about listening to the people around us, it can be really easy to do thoughtless harm.

        3. ferrina*

          Exactly. There are so, so many good quotes and you just happen to pick that one? Nope. Either that person is dangerously oblivious (and shouldn’t be allowed to send external emails anyways) or they know exactly what they are doing.

        4. Random Dice*

          Yeah. This wasn’t an accident. They’re just hoping that they can wrap their gun-nuttery in Baby Yoda to get away with it.

          Yodawashing, as it were.

      2. yala*

        Honestly, even if it was just “May the Force be with you” as a work email signature, I would side-eye it, even though I’m a massive Star Wars fan because…it’s your work email. That’s…no, don’t do that.

        But that he picked THAT quote… whuf

        It’s a good quote in the show’s contest. Out of that context, it makes me thing of III% and their ilk.

    2. CityMouse*

      It honestly reads as one of those IAmVeryBadass moments, but it’s massively inappropriate. Someone’s trying way too hard.

      I don’t even think writing something like “This is the Way” on your work email is appropriate. But referencing weapons? Yikes.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yes, my impression would be either that they identify with the quote because it sounds “tough” and they see themselves as a tough guy/tough woman or else that they have political views that are very pro-gun and see this as a way to promote their love of guns without “getting in trouble” for making political comments.

        Even as a quote, there’s a reason they chose that one, you know? Generally, when somebody puts a quote from a book or film in their signature like that, it indicates both that they are a fan of the show (or book or poem or song) and that they identify with the quote in some way.

      2. AnonORama*

        Yeah, one of my coworkers had “May the Force be with you” on theirs and while I thought it was kind of funny and probably fine for our super-casual workplace, I hoped it wasn’t on their external signature!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I like to answer “Have a blessed day!” with “May the Force be with you.” :)

      3. Dahlia*

        It’s not even a particularly badass moment in the show, though. Din is trying and failing to use it as an excuse to keep his weapons on him to go on PUBLIC TRANSPORT because he’s lost his ship. He’s literally taking the bus. And he, again, fails.

    3. Observer*

      How did that signature fall through the cracks?

      Yeah, that was my first thought, too. It’s WILDLY inappropriate. And it’s not just about “weapons are my religion”, which is really bad all on its own. It’s the assumption that everyone who sees that will get the reference. Which would make me wonder just how myopic this person is.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        It’s a terrible quote but it starts with “I’m a Mandalorian” so I think what they’re referring to is fairly clear, unless there’s a more particular context that you mean.

        1. Observer*

          <i.but it starts with “I’m a Mandalorian” so I think what they’re referring to is fairly clear, unless there’s a more particular context that you mean.

          Like the context of people who don’t actually have a clue that “Mandalorian” is. Most of my family and a good chunk of my coworkers would have no idea what it’s referring to. And yes, these are educated folks. But they don’t follow these franchises.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            Count me among those who have zero clue what the madalorian is. I’ve made it this deep in the comments and am still not quite sure if it’s a movie or some kind of sequal/series/prequal/continued storyline of Star Trek or Star Wars?

        2. yala*

          I mean, even if folks did know what a Mandalorian is (which, as the comments demonstrated, is iffy)…Mandalorians aren’t real?

          So, like. He might as well be saying: “I’m a dragon.”

          1. Sacred Ground*

            It’s more like he’s saying “I’m a dragon and I lay waste to villages and hoard treasure.”

            Like, even if it’s an obvious fiction, it’s a weird thing to write about himself in company communications. Here he’s announcing that, like a Mandalorian, weapons are his religion. It’s weird that of all the things he could choose to say about himself, this is the most important. He wants everyone to know of his obsession with weapons. In a business context. That’s weird.

            As someone who’s lost family and friends to gun violence, I’d see that email sig and want as little to do with him as possible. And if I worked with him, I’d say something to his manager if not to him.

    4. Lizard the Second*

      Inappropriate at the best of times, but imagine receiving an email with that signature right after an incident actually happening.

      If OP2’s colleague wanted a Mandalorian quote and they work in higher education, they could have gone with “The foundlings are the future.”

      1. Harper the Other One*

        There are lots of excellent quotes from the show that could be a fun way to say something about you value while also adding a bit of personality (and maybe helping you connect with a fellow Star Wars fan.)

        Which is why it’s a little extra alarming because it means that this quote probably DOES represent what that individual values.

      2. Francie Foxglove*

        I was coming in to say, imagine if there’s a weapon-related incident at this school, and in the aftermath, this sig somehow gets discovered and publicized. Even if the sig’s creator is made of butterflies and rainbows, it will still *look* terrible.

        1. Observer*

          Even if the sig’s creator is made of butterflies and rainbows, it will still *look* terrible.

          But what are the odds that the creator really is such a sweetie pie? As others have said, this CANNOT be the only quote he could have chosen. And given the context here – education adjacent, and follows pop culture – he HAS to know how much gun violence there is and how much of it appears to be directed at educational institutions. And he must also be aware of level of controversy and vitriol swirling around in higher ed.

          Maybe not the details. But the broad strokes. And knowing that, that’s what he chose. Yeah, not so sweet. Is he a monster? Probably not. But almost certainly someone who wants to stick it to people a bit.

          1. MissElizaTudor*

            A very small proportion of gun violence occurs at educational institutions. Any gun violence is too much, of course, but gun violence at schools does get disproportionate coverage because it’s so shocking and tragic.

            That doesn’t make this an appropriate quote, though.

            1. Observer*

              I agree. That’s why I said *appears* to be directed at education. But the enormous coverage makes it impossible that anyone who is following any sort of politics or culture is unaware of it.

              Like this week I’ve seen tons of references to the Uvalde shooting. And not just in left-leaning media. You’d have to be living under a rock to not know about it, while you might just *possibly* be able to ignore the amount of other violence going on.

              1. Kit*

                The references this week are because the first anniversary was yesterday, to be fair – but given that guns are the leading cause of death of Americans under 18, the relative proportion of gun violence at schools versus anywhere else isn’t the only factor, and is another reason that someone who works in an education-adjacent field should be aware of the terrible optics involved.

                1. Observer*

                  I know why it’s popping up all over the place. My just being that even someone who is quite sheltered and doesn’t realize how pervasive gun violence (and violence in general) is can’t have missed this.

                  But, yes, if you’re in an education related field to not be aware of how many kids die in violence is just not credible.

    5. Seahorse*

      My org has zero guidance on email signatures, which surprises me. It’s not a small or informal place, but nobody monitors that aspect of communication. A coworker has some kind of autogenerated quote inserter in their signature, so it changes with every email. The quotes are mostly from philosophers or famous writers, but occasionally famous writers say things that aren’t appropriate for the workplace.
      If anyone else has noticed or cared, I certainly haven’t heard about it. Maybe most people just don’t read email signature blocks?

    6. ecnaseener*

      I mean, having a policy doesn’t mean anyone’s checking / there are “cracks” to fall through. My org also has a policy and template signature with fonts and everything, but my team doesn’t use it and no one’s ever come down on us to say we have to. (We all use professional signatures with no quotes or anything! Just not the org’s template — our team serves more than just our one org.)

      1. Chirpy*

        There are just so many good, quotable lines in The Mandalorian. There’s no reason to use “weapons are my religion” unless the person means it, which is extra awful for a school related job.

        I have spoken.

    7. Nina*

      I’m interested in this one because I’m in a country that famously does not have many shootings at all and has stringent gun control, and I’m fairly active on the old-school international Mando’a language and culture forums (predating the show; things have got interesting since it went more mainstream)

      a) The first thing that sprang to mind reading that was ‘okay this dude carries a pocket knife’ because that’s what like 90% of the vode I deal with mean by the ‘beskar’gam’ line in the Resol’nare. (The other 10% mean being prepared for anything, which has more and less weird practical applications; unfortunately I can only remember the kids’ singalong version of the Resol’nare right now)
      b) This sounds hilarious, I understand that – for a tiny but surprisingly far from zero population Manda is their actual real world religion.
      c) For a more mainstream and acceptable version, weapons are also part of the Sikh religion, and many (most?) Sikhs are carrying something that is recognizable as a dagger at all times.

      As with any religion, unless it’s the focus of the workplace, it’s best kept out of email signatures, and as with many religions, it’s something that’s often quoted by people who don’t actually adhere to it, but I feel like OP may get into hotter water than they want to if they handle it purely as ‘this is a ridiculous movie quote remove it at once’.

  6. Anonymous Llama*

    #1: Start job searching. The legal risks are too intense. Start CYA – sending emails to the boss reiterating that those changes can’t be made so it’s in writing, make sure any document that you sign, you keep a copy of. That way if they go back and make changes, you can say you didn’t authorize it. But you need to protect yourself!

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      Agreed. Put your concerns in editing and save any responses you get. And start job hunting.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yup – LW 1 CYA and run as fast as you can away from this job. The flexibility of schedule is not worth risking your professional career over (or worse legal penalties given that these are federal laws with regards to the forms you have to sign that the boss wants you to change).

      Honestly – don’t make changes and GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      This a thousand times over. Your name is on documents that could get you in trouble legally. In addition to Anonymous Llama’s great advice, if it were me in your situation, once I had a new job, I would consider contacting an attorney. I would ask how to handle what happened so you’ve got something in place to protect you just in case an audit happens.

      That said, since I’m not an attorney, I don’t know if that would actually be helpful or if it would open up a legal can of worms. Perhaps those who are lawyers can chime in about the step of what to do after you end up leaving.

      1. Anne Elliot*

        Yes, as a lawyer (not your lawyer) I need to strongly underscore that the fact that you are not signing these things yourself does not mean you do not know they are being signed and submitted fraudulently. Depending on the nature of the business you are in, that could get you in major legal trouble and, equally as important to your career, may be one or more violations of your ethical obligations as an accountant. I don’t know if you have a reporting obligation — but you might. You need to leave ASAP.

      2. Run, and Keep Running*

        Attorney here – the LW should NOT wait until she leaves. She should be contacting an attorney TODAY. Her boss has her signing off on documents that could get her in very serious legal trouble, and he will absolutely blame her and pretend ignorance when (not if) this comes to light.

        1. I have RBF*


          If there is any risk of her boss’s illegal shenanigans blowing back on her she needs to A) CYA in writing with BCC, and B) consult with an attorney immediately.

          IANAL, but I sometimes have done financial stuff for non-profits.

        2. Anne Elliot*

          “Her boss has her signing off on documents that could get her in very serious legal trouble, and he will absolutely blame her and pretend ignorance when (not if) this comes to light.”

          I don’t disagree but just to clarify, the OP’er did not say her boss has her signing off on documents, he is signing her name to documents himself after she refused to do so. I think we are in agreement that the fact that SHE is not doing it will probably not save her, when she knows that it is being done. Plus, her boss will lie about that anyway and say she DID sign them — he’s already shown that he’s a liar, so he’s not likely to be truthful when the s*** hits the fan. So the advice is the same: Run away!

          1. Sacred Ground*

            Exactly. She may not have prepared them or even signed them but she knows they’re fraudulent and that her name is on them. So she’s on the hook already. She has to get herself off it.

            She’ll be a lot better off if she, with her own legal counsel, voluntarily informs the agencies involved that these documents are fraudulent and her name forged than if those agencies come to her asking about it. That way, she’s a witness rather than a target. If they have to come to her, she’ll be the target trying to convince them that she didn’t do this despite her name being on it.

            She needs to have a lawyer now. Her employer is setting her up to take a criminal charge and she’s already exposed.

    4. JSPA*

      agreed, with everything llama says.

      Adding that,

      the extra pay and underwork and protestations of ignorance? They may not be a miscalculation.

      People who are setting someone up to take a fall, also do this.

      Regardless of whether it’s intentional or not, they are buying your good name and your silence. That will not look good in court.

      Being called insubordinate for refusing to break the law? That would have me saving documentation in case of wanting to be a whistle blower, as well as needing protection in court.

      Please be careful, watch your back, and get out.

      1. Observer*

        Being called insubordinate for refusing to break the law? That would have me saving documentation in case of wanting to be a whistle blower, as well as needing protection in court.

        Especially the court issue.

      2. Redactle*

        Exactly this – OP, between the CEO, Marissa, the underwork, the overpay, even the wildly flexible hours this entire situation has a lot of fraud markers and a lot of you being the fall guy. You need to protect yourself and get out.

        1. Delta Delta*

          The flag that the CEO hired OP but allegedly doesn’t know why. This feels icky all around and OP would be wise to leave, asap.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          It really does feel like the office version of “weird little store/restaurant that’s always empty and probably a mob front.”

      3. Erin*

        #5: I was in a similar situation early in my career. I was hired into a permanent role from a temp role. This was 20 years ago, so formal onboarding plans & programs that create them were sparse. Anyway, after I took a lateral move role after being hired on full time, my manager gave me an onboarding doc that she created for her employees. Even though I had been with the company for about a year at that point, completing the onboarding was massively helpful for me. No more “sooo where do I go to find XYZ” to find info. I highly second Alison’s advice with launching this to your new hire :)

      4. FromasmalltowninCanada*

        OP 1 – RUN, RUN as fast as you can away from this. Ideally, you would just quit (yes, with nothing lined up) but I know in the US with health insurance tied to your job that may not be possible – but I’m that concerned. In Canada, this could make you lose your designation, face legal repercussions and the end result is that you might never work in a financial role again. I actually know someone who had to quit – there was an investigation eventually and she was contacted and her actions investigated – she was in the clear because of her documentation and the fact that she quit over the shady accounting practices but if she had not quit it would have been bad.

        In Canada there are provincial and national governing bodies – assuming you have a designation, reach out to yours. They will help you and tell you if you really do need to quit now to save yourself. Our help lines are confidential – so hopefully your are too.

    5. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Here to also say that in addition to consulting a lawyer ASAP, ask said laywer if you would be within your rights to save copies of everything as it exists (as you prepared it or fixed it) because my Spidey sense says boss man would feel fine editing your work after you left and leaving you on the hook for it. That would mean he has the only copies and if forensic accounting were necessary it would be a lot easier if you had your own version. I don’t know what’s allowed for your company (most wouldn’t allow you to have your own copies) but a lawyer is going to advise you about what’s best if you’re trying to protect yourself. And yes, download your own copies (to a separate device) of all written exchanges with him outlining your concerns. and note, having your work email on your phone won’t save those conversations, you need to copy them off to another medium as he could easily remotely wipe them through the server, even on your personal phone.

      1. Bess*

        Didn’t think about this angle but this absolutely seems plausible–good call.

        Like, he doesn’t have to be intentionally trying to perpetrate fraud/crime to be doing bad and illegal things because he’s impatient, stubborn, self-serving, etc. It’s my understanding that many criminals are simply being selfish and aren’t evil masterminds, right? Which is why so many get caught.

    6. tg33*

      The fact that your CEO is taking looking for clarity on work practices as a “personality conflict” would make me run screaming from the job. I know that type of attitude has been referenced here before, but I can’t remember any details, but it sets off alarm bells.

      1. Beka Cooper*

        I was in a situation sooort of similar, where my manager’s way of dealing with disagreements on work practices was to get everybody into a meeting and talk it out. He would never make any decisions or take a side, and the person opposite me was manipulative and feigned ignorance of everything we had ever talked about previously. Since my manager never learned the actual processes, the talks never stuck, because the other person just conveniently forgot it and kept picking at everything I did until I refused to interact with him anymore, and at least my manager got on board with that.

        In that position, I was the designated school official (DSO) who issued I-20s, the document that allowed international students to come into the U.S. on a student visa, and so there would be legal ramifications for me from ICE and DHS if any fraud happened. And my decisions on verifying transcripts and official documents were constantly undermined so I wasn’t confident it wouldn’t! But aside from having that responsibility, my position was the lowest entry-level position you can have at the university, so I had no authority to decide anything about business processes, and I didn’t want that authority either!

        So yeah, this situation is concerning and I wouldn’t expect it to get better, or even keep from getting worse and worse. It’s too draining to deal with that kind of stuff from day to day, even without the legal issues.

        1. ferrina*

          This gives me flashbacks to an ex. He mastered weaponized incompetence and selective memory. We’d talk things out, make an agreement, and he just….wouldn’t follow through. “Forget”. Give false facts about why his way was better (of course he didn’t have citations- it’s just common sense/everyone knows it/why am I questioning him I’m so meeeaaaaaannnn).

          These types of people do not want resolution. They are not open to negotiation. They want their way or nothing (and their way may be “I get to nitpick at you as much as I want”). They may temporarily negotiate, but they will go back on that as soon as it suits them. These types people don’t get better on their own and won’t hold themselves accountable for their actions- a manager needs to step in.

    7. Richard Hershberger*

      Yup: The solution to the Marissa problem is straightforward: make a backup copy of all your work. Let Marissa miscorrect the copy she has access to, then revert to the backup when it comes time to finalize it. But felonious CEO is another issue entirely. First time he asks for something illegal might be goofily clueless feloniousness. When he doubles down? He might be goofy and clueless, but he knows what he is doing. Even a casual consumer of news nowadays should appreciate why you don’t want your professional reputation tied to the cluelessly felonious.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        YES. I would not want to be, say, a member of George Santos’ staff right now, job-search wise. The reflected grime is just too pernicious.

    8. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Adding to the chorus of “get out now”.

      You don’t have great benefits because this is a great employer; you have them because they are negligent and shady AF. When (not if) that house of cards falls, you do not want to be the sole provider for your family. Get out now while you can do it on your own timeline.

    9. Littorally*


      Reading the letter, at first I was like “oh okay, crappy boss, but if you’re only working 15 hours a week that is a great setup to take your time with a job search and be really choosy” …. right up until I got to the illegal shit! That is serious duck and cover time and bumps it to FLEE. RUN FOR THE HILLS. DUCK AND COVER (your a**)

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Same! I was like “oh, these are great conditions, I could deal with a bad boss if I’ve got that kind of flexibil–oh, HELL NO, get out get out NOW!”

      2. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

        Same. There’s a lot I could put up with if it meant about 15 hours of work (from home as I wanted) at a full-time salary. But being pressured to do illegal stuff and yelled for not doing it? Head for the hills! It is not worth it.

    10. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Even without the cluelessly felonious CEO (great phrase, Richard Hershberger), I’d recommend leaving. Long ago I learned that if the best thing about a job is how much time you can spend away from it, it’s probably not the right job.

      Add on the cluelessly felonious CEO who is also a raging angry glass bowl? Oh, yeah. Get the heck out of there now.

    11. Miette*

      I concur. OP if you have a CPA you risk losing it–and the value it brings you in your future career–if you allow this to continue and it is reported/discovered.

    12. Emmie*

      The great benefits are an incentive to accept breaking the law. It’s not a benefit you should accept because the risk to you is a conviction of a white collar crime. This is not a worst case scenario. It’s a logical outcome of fraudulent accounting records. Run. It’s natural to downplay the severity of this, but the impact to OP could be quite severe.

    13. Tio*

      Honestly I would print and/or forward some of those emails before I left, just to CYA further.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Yeah, agreed. The fabulous hours and setup are meant to keep you ensnared, like a lotus eater, in an untenable situation.

      Being yelled at, having your work messed with and instructed to do illegal things on paperwork bearing your signature??? All hard nopes, and your boss knows it. He’s counting on it just being too nice having such a light work setup to ever really do anything about it and he gets his own way in his little personal kingdom.

      Plus, atrophy is very real, not only in your hard skillset, but in just how you think of “work” in an office setting at all. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get back into the 40 hours worth of tasks, arriving/leaving (or logging on if you’re remote) at set times, dealing with non-bananapants coworkers and bosses will be. We’ve all seen tons of AAM letters from people years out of a toxic workplace that still struggle to reprogram their brains.

      Brush up your resume, start preparing cover letters, look for a new job NOW, before you start a family. It will always be hard, but having a newborn will mean it’s a hundred times more difficult to leave in any case and trying to work a regular job again will be almost impossible mentally and emotionally.

    15. nobadcats*

      And if you can, print your originals with your signature and send them to yourself by certified mail.

    16. Cat Lady turned Dog Mom*

      I wonder if that is why they “overstaff” and have such “great” benefits is to have someone willing to break the law when requested.

  7. Sharona*

    LW1: I would be getting out now. You don’t really have any security here, with a CEO that doesn’t know what your job is, and Marissa screwing up your work for you. Chances are you’d be on the hook for any mistakes she makes, if you’re not there to catch them. The advantage is that you have lots of free time for job hunting. Good luck!

    1. Antmarch*

      Also to add i think the skill atrophy or even lack of learning new skills is a decent/significant worry than what OP might think now.

      I was in a somewhat similar situation, had a job that didn’t have a ton of work so I had a lot of free time at work to read news/aam etc… it seemed great at the Time but it wasn’t until the role/office changed and i started getting more direction/instructions and doing more work on a regular basis that I realized how bored and unfulfilled I was in the role. i ended up being happier after after i had more work that kept me busy mad helped me learn new skills.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yes, the skill atrophy jumped out at me too, since it came in the letter before all the illegal stuff (which just screams GETOUTGETOUTGETOUT). Even if it weren’t for the illegal stuff I would recommend finding a job that’s more challenging, because atrophying skills isn’t great for your long-term career success.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Yep, the job is still not ideal unless you’re close to retirement or will be soon inheriting a huge load of money.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Agreed. And LW definitely said she cares about her career so it sounds like she should get out and move on asap.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      And it wouldn’t surprise me if he asked Marissa to change that statement. (even if not on this occasion where it was actually illegal – is she doing other stuff at his request that appears as incompetence?)

      I was annoyed reading that:

      > When I was hired, the owners were honest with me that they weren’t 100% sure why I was being hired. They explained that the person working in the finance department already was overwhelmed, and they didn’t know if it was due to business growth or because she couldn’t handle the workload.

      What?! We have a problem so instead of trying to get to the root of it or address it with the overwhelmed person, we will just hire someone else? (I bet Marissa didn’t know OP was joining the company until she did, either) – that is next-level issue avoidance. If that is how he makes all his business decisions I doubt the business will thrive for long.

      OP, you are making the right choice in leaving. I think this period of working 15 hours a week, flexibility etc has been good but you don’t want to stay there permanently due to reasons you mentioned, not developing skills etc.

      Normally you would bring this up with the boss, but I don’t see any point here. He’s made it clear how he deals with issues, so I would just go straight to the next step (applying elsewhere).

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I also wonder if some of the Marissa changes are coming from the boss instead of her.

        Regardless – use the flexibility and find a new job – this one is just not worth the legal risks involved.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          Yes – incompetent or overwhelmed people generally don’t go in and “fix” other people’s work, in my experience. I expect at least some of those changes come from the boss, and then when OP asks about it she’s told to sort it out with Marissa. Boss isn’t owning any of his decisions.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Honestly, the more I think about it I wonder if the boss is looking for fall people that can be blamed when his shenanigans blow up in the company’s face.

            RUN RUN RUN RUN

    3. ferrina*

      You don’t really have any security here

      +100. CEO doesn’t know what your job is, folks aren’t sure why you were hired, your manager doesn’t have your back, and the CEO calls you insubordinate when you do your job. If the winds change, you will be let go without a second thought.

      Get out now, on your own schedule, when you have the time and bandwidth to be picky about your next job (and before this place gets more toxic), and before the CEO gets busted for fraud.

      1. Bess*

        Yeah, beyond the obvious legal problems, #3, I think my next concern would be about job security here. Owners don’t seem to know why you were hired, CEO has little to no understanding of what you do and therefore doesn’t really understand your value, and you don’t seem to have been brought in as a replacement and you don’t have seniority or superior education…I’d worry about the company’s viability long term based on what you’re experiencing, and let that motivate you to get out. Sure, this could be sustainable long term, but do you want to gamble your professional future on that?

  8. Phil O'Neill*

    I don’t actually see LW #3 say anywhere in the letter that they’re worried people will mistakingly assume it’s part of their name, they just want to stick to their name only as an identifier.

    And I’m kind of in the same boat as them to be honest. I fully support trans rights, I have no problem with people listing their own preferred pronouns and I will always make the effort to use the correct ones, but I hate the idea that we are obligated to use them ourselves and must be bigots if not. I have no preferred pronouns. My relationship with my gender identity is complicated and personal and I don’t necessarily care to share it with the world.

    If the letter writer was forced to include their sexuality or race in their name, I think your answer would be very different.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      But it’s odd here because the OP does use their pronouns in their profile. If they had written in saying that they didn’t want to post their pronouns because of outing concerns or complicated gender identity concerns, it would have been an entirely different question and answer.

      1. Phil O'Neill*

        Okay, but saying to the letter writer “better just do it, it’s what the company is asking for!”, people who may have other reasons for not wanting to do it are also forced to comply.

        I don’t think the letter writer’s reason for pushback should really matter here, this is a problematic thing for the company to ask for and I am kind of amazed it is getting the nod of approval here. Not only that, comments calling the letter writer a bigot are still up.

        1. Observer*

          I disagree that the reasons don’t matter. They do. Because pushback on the basis either that the name field is sacrosanct and should not be sullied with anything but the actual name or that someone might actually be confused about what their name actually is, is silly and will not make the OP look good.

          If the OP were concerned about forcing people to out themselves before they are ready to, that would be a very different thing, and something that they could clearly say without look really, really strange.

          1. Phil O'Neill*

            Well I personally agree with them that the name field is “sacrosanct” as you put it, and I would not be shy about voicing that opinion in my own workplace were this to occur.

            I wouldn’t necessarily quit over it but I disagree that this is a silly opinion to hold. Using software incorrectly when it has already been designed to present this information properly is the silly stance in my mind.

          2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            I re-read that letter about 3 times trying to figure out what his (assuming the pronouns are actually he/him as stated) motivation is in wanting to include the name only, given that he’s already put the pronouns and time zone elsewhere in the system.

            All I can come up with is the mention that he’s a “Director” although it doesn’t really seem germane to the question. I almost felt like there was an aspect of “I’m a senior / exec level, my name should speak for itself rather than having to put all this stuff like time zone in there, because everyone knows who and where I am already due to my senior position”.

            1. shedubba*

              And see, if he’s senior level, that’s probably exactly why he’s being “encouraged” to have his pronouns in his signature line. If leadership is saying they’re inclusive and that it’s fine to put pronouns in your signature, but none of them are actually doing it (or if your particular boss isn’t doing it), it can be a sign that, no, it’s really not safe to be out at work.

              1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

                I don’t understand the logical leap from “everyone declares their gender” to “it is therefore safe to be out at work”. In today’s political climate I can EASILY see how an organization could require pronouns and then police/punish people whose pronouns don’t match their perceived gender. This policy could just as easily be used to root out non-cis employees as to embrace them.

            2. Llama Identity Thief*

              I think you’re overreading for an extra motivation when there’s nothing more than “my name is incredibly core to my identity!”

              Let me put it this way – my gender is a bit of a strange thing that I still don’t fully understand, but I know for a fact that I’m comfortable with virtually any pronoun aside from it/its. My identity is [Real Name]. 95+% of the time, especially in speech, I’d kind of prefer it if people didn’t use any pronouns for me, and just refer to me as [Real Name] or [Nickname]. This isn’t something that’s really valid to enforce on people, but that should give you a sense of how strongly I identify with [Real Name].

              My email signature has my pronouns in it, specifically on a second line. In my email sig, where I have multiple lines to control, the only thing that MIGHT go next to my name is my role – “here is who I am [Real Name], here is why I’m important to you [Role].” I have no issue putting my pronouns in my Slack name, but that’s only because there is no other solid place to put them in Slack and still be visible, and if there were, I’d be wanting to put them there in a heartbeat. I could easily see someone else even more tied to their name as core to their identity reacting like LW3 above, without an ounce of transphobia in their heart. I think it’s still Weird (TM), but this reads as more “wants to work on a bean bag on the floor” Weird than “cheap ass rolls” Weird.

              1. Jayem Griffin*

                p.s. Your mileage may vary at your workplace, but please know that there are absolutely people who don’t use any pronouns. I have a friend who does not use pronouns – everyone just refers to Friend with Friend’s name where we’d ordinarily use a pronoun. (Still getting used to “Friendself”, but often rewording the sentence can fix that!) This is 100% a thing that you can explore if you want to, and it’s just as valid as any other pronoun set.

          3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            Some people ARE “really, really strange.” Requiring everyone to act the same way is not inclusive, because people think differently for all sorts of reasons, including just humans are different and qualities that are great for accountants are not necessarily great for salespeople and vice versa, but also including things like neurodiversity and religion and cultural background. One of the things I truly appreciate about Alison is the way she nonjudgmentally and kindly lets the “odd” LWs know how behavior is likely to be perceived.

        2. Colette*

          Regardless of whether the company is right to require it or not, pushing back on policies has a political cost. When there’s a good reason to push back, that cost might be worth paying (or it might become almost zero, if you can persuade people that you’re right).

          Given that the OP is a director and needs to be consious of what he’s directly and indirectly communicating to his staff, this may not be a battle worth fighting, at least not unless he can articulate why he doesn’t want to do it more clearly than he did in the letter.

      2. Worldwalker*

        Yeah, that part’s kind of weird. If he’s already doing it somewhere else, why not there?

        I resist being forced to list pronouns, too, though the reason in my case is that I don’t want the first (and possibly only) thing someone knows about me, the thing that shapes how they will relate to me in the future, being my gender. I’m an individual, not an instance of a group which, unless I were to make up some entirely unique set of pronouns that even I couldn’t remember, contains untold numbers of people.

        It’s not bigotry. I don’t have any problem with whatever someone’s identity or pronouns are. Thanks for telling me. Just because I don’t want to do something myself doesn’t mean I object to someone else doing it. I don’t care if someone wants to put their pronouns, their hometown, their geek code, or anything else in their sig; just I don’t want to myself.

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      fair. LW #3 said they have a big problem with their name being presented as anything other than their name.

      I guess parsing it like that makes it sound almost religious… aren’t there sects that call everyone “brother” and “sister” for example, no titles are to be used because all are equal before the Creator? but these aren’t titles… the LW name is still his name, just with pronouns and a time zone after it.

      I respect the distinction. Is it a difference though from what Alison said in her reply? and no I don’t think it changes the advice

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They wrote, “My name isn’t ‘John Doe (he/him) (PST),’ it’s just “John Doe.” … I have a real problem with my name being presented as anything other than my name.” Since they didn’t share any other objection to it, it sounds like the issue is that they think they’re presenting all that as their name (which of course they are not; the company is saying they’re going to use that Slack field for more info than just name).

      1. Phil O'Neill*

        Well they are going to be presenting that information as their name if they include it in the name field. Every message from them is going to look like “Phil O’Neill (he/him) PST: hi, is that report ready yet?”

        It’s not that people will mistakingly think it is his actual name, but it IS presenting it as his name on the software. Which is silly in my opinion, especially when the software has a dedicated field to list that information anyway.

        Using only your name in your “slack name” is a really acceptable stance to me. Companies I’ve worked for in the past even mandated it. It’s how the software is designed to work.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          OK, but their company has decided to do it differently.

          The LW says their concern is with presenting that as their name, but the point is, they’re not presenting that as their name. The company is choosing to use that field for name plus additional info. That’s the company’s prerogative, just like if they wanted job titles or team names there too.

          1. Phil O'Neill*

            It’s the companies prerogative to mandate every employee must list their pronouns?

            In the link you posted above, you said:

            “You should not need to declare pronouns that you’re not comfortable with or don’t identify with, nor should you need to figure it out on anyone’s timeline but your own.

            And no one should feel pressured to out themselves as trans or non-binary just to comply with a corporate edict.”

            Why is there not even a mention of this concern on this answer?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No. It’s the company’s prerogative to say they’re going to use the name line for additional info, whether that’s time zone, dept, or so forth. If the company is truly requiring pronouns, that’s a problem for all the reasons in the post linked above. I can’t tell if they are or not (the LW says it’s “encouraged”) but that’s not the focus of their concern, so it’s not what I’m focusing on either. It sounds like they’re just as concerned with the time zone being there.

              1. Phil O'Neill*

                Well the letter writer also said “encouraged” means “you have to do this”, so it seems prudent to me to at least include a sentence to mention that forcing employees to share their pronouns is not acceptable. Or even just a link to the above letter which was a very reasonable take I think.

                Without mentioning it at all in this answer, it is easy for a casual reader to assume that you think it is acceptable for a company to force you to specify your pronouns.

          2. Database Developer Dude*

            Okay, Alison, since you opened that door, I’m going to speak as the software and database engineer that I am.

            If I give you a screwdriver, are you going to use it to hammer nails in? (Assume I mean the tool, not the drink). Of course not. Then why use a developed piece of software contrary to how it is designed??? Just because the company feels like it? This seems junior-high-school at best.

            Slack has places for pronouns AND for time zones IN THE PROFILE. That’s how the software works. I guarantee you there’s some non-technical person high up in #3’s company who is acting like a spoiled toddler by pushing this.

            1. Observer*

              If I give you a screwdriver, are you going to use it to hammer nails in? (Assume I mean the tool, not the drink). Of course not.

              It sounds like you don’t do user interface design ;) You can be sure that there ARE going to be people who use that screwdriver as a hammer. Of course, it’s most likely to happen if you don’t have any hammers around, but you do need to drive nails into something. You have to plan for that if it matters.

              Then why use a developed piece of software contrary to how it is designed???

              Because the design doesn’t do what the company wants / needs it to. It needs hammers, but the software is not providing it, so they are using the tops of the screw drivers. Is that a great thing for the screwdrivers? No. But it’s a reality of how people operate.

              Just because the company feels like it? This seems junior-high-school at best.

              Hard disagree. The designers have their viewpoint and the people who are using the tools have their viewpoint and needs. The designers didn’t provide a good tool for the needs of this particular user, so they are trying to retrofit what they have. The designers may disagree that this is a legitimate need, but it’s not their place to insist that people only use their tool in the way they envisioned.

              Slack has places for pronouns AND for time zones IN THE PROFILE. That’s how the software works. >

              We get that. But that doesn’t mean that it’s as useful to some people as having that showing up in the channel and conversation, for some people at least. I’m not sure why you seem to think that people, even people who use the software, cannot disagree with the designers on the most useful presentation of information.

              I guarantee you there’s some non-technical person high up in #3’s company who is acting like a spoiled toddler by pushing this.

              You’re making a lot of assumptions here, and they are not based in anything factual.

              1. EchoGirl*

                Yep, I’ve definitely used weirder things when I couldn’t find a hammer. (I’m pretty sure I once hammered in a nail with a shoe that had a heavy block heel because I couldn’t find anything else…)

                This is actually a recurring frustration of mine with a lot of systems; they have an idea of how the thing is “supposed” to work and they don’t accept input from users on how they would actually like it to work. (For example, there was a fairly recent situation where Firefox added a non-removable button to the toolbar on their browser and then put a bunch of effort in to subvert people’s “hacks” to get rid of it, rather than consider, “gee, maybe if that many people are going out of their way to get rid of it, we should just make it removable”.) Yeah, you can just say “it’s supposed to work THIS way”, but if your users don’t want it to work that way, well, you’ve got a problem there, and just saying, “nope, they’re wrong” isn’t going to fix that. (Obviously there’s limits — if someone’s complaining that a system designed for one task doesn’t work for a completely different task, that’s one thing. But when it’s just one detail of a larger system that otherwise does align with what the user is trying to do, yes, sometimes people are going to want to use it in ways that don’t perfectly align with the “vision” or the “plan” rather than try to reinvent the wheel.

        2. LadyVet*

          If the company is big enough that they’re chatting with people across time zones, then it’s likely a lot of people haven’t met.

          When you’re in the thick of a conversation. you don’t always have time to open someone’s profile, so name, preferred pronouns and time zone in the username sounds like a great way to make sure you don’t misgender anyone or expect an immediate response from someone who might not be awake yet.

          1. Allonge*

            “When you’re in the thick of a conversation. you don’t always have time to open someone’s profile…”

            This feels like a stretch to me. When I am in the thick of a conversation with someone I never talked to before, I already know they are awake, because I am talking to them, and I can take the 2 seconds to check their profile to make sure I don’t misgender them (if that comes up at all).

            I think both OP and the company have good intentions here. I just know – because it came up at every workplace I had – that some people are, quite rightly, sensitive about their name, how it’s displayed, and what is displayed as their name. To me it’s just as valid a concern as correct pronouns.

            Now, unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for OP – indeed this will be just about impossible to bring up without seeming like a bigot (see answers here). But that is an issue all by itself.

            1. Worldwalker*

              Regarding the time zone: You know they’re awake, yes, but did they just arrive at work or are they about to leave for the day? That can matter quite a lot!

              1. Allonge*

                Yes, but:
                1. once again, if it matters that much, that info can be in the profile and I can take the few seconds it takes to find out
                2. people at any given time may have just arrived or can be leaving. People have meetings and external obligations. People get grabbed by a boss / chatty colleague for a meeting on the corridor or a cell phone call. People are not available all the time and time zone is really just one part of this.

                Can it be useful information? Sure.

          2. Magenta*

            Pronouns are mainly used when talking about someone not to them, I very rarely, if ever, need to even know someone’s gender when I am having a conversation with them. If I did it would take no time at all to look at the slack profile.

            1. Silver Robin*

              Yeah, I kind of agree here. Even in group chats, I do not really use third-person pronouns. “Silver’s point about logistics is a good one, we should consider…” or similar. And for situations where I do need to refer to somebody else, I will probably learn the pronouns of those I interact with often relatively quickly, eliminating the need for constant reminders.

              I do wonder how often people need to refer to non-present individuals that they do not know well. If one is constantly talking about coworkers one interacts with only a handful of times a year (maybe HR or something?) then maybe clicking back and forth between profiles and chats might get eye-rolling, but even then, I would just put up with it?

              1. Agnes*

                Yes, introducing yourself with pronouns is a way of virtue signalling, not useful information for the conversation, where it’s unlikely to come up. I use “virtue signalling” in a neutral way – people want to signal they are inclusive, which is a virtue many of us support – but that’s the reason for it.

                1. Silver Robin*

                  100% on the virtue signaling. I am cis and try to be really consistent about introducing myself with pronouns (a friend of mine started calling me Ms. She/her) so folks can feel comfortable volunteering their own.

                  I will also generally ask in informal situations among friends, because the situations are usually friendly enough for folks to do a little side tangent if the response is complicated. At work though, I just leave it up to people to volunteer the info if they feel like it and I take cues from others about what to use if I never got explicit information. My workplace strongly encourages people to put pronouns in Zoom names and signatures, but I know not everyone does.

                2. Becky*

                  I disagree on the virtue signaling!
                  In *many* cases for cis people, I would say introducing yourself with pronouns is virtue signaling – but that is only because your pronouns match your gender presentation and so people’s assumptions on your pronouns are usually correct.
                  HOWEVER – if you are frequently misgendered because of your appearance or name or because you use non-binary pronouns – that is not virtue signaling at all – that is wanting to be addressed or referred to correctly.

                3. Becky*

                  Additional note: I am by no means saying anyone, cis or not, should be *forced* to display or introduce themselves with their pronouns – just that it isn’t always virtue signaling to include them.

      2. Katy*

        It’s important to remember, though, that people who are uncomfortable sharing their pronouns might also be uncomfortable sharing their reasons for not sharing their pronouns. I’m not saying that’s the case with LW#3, but realistically, if we want to say “Share your pronouns if you’re comfortable doing so,” we have to let people like LW#3 opt out and not challenge them on it. Because the last thing you want to do is push someone into revealing personal and private information to their work team.

        1. John Smith*

          Well said. I’m being pestered into putting pronouns on my email, but tbh, I’ve gotten used to people abusing my name Ive stopped caring. I’ve had my first name shortened, lengthened, rhymed, deliberately mispelt, and my last name (which is traditionally a feminine first name) used as my first name due to our email system displaying names as “Smith, John” and people take my (real) second name as my first even though my full name is in the signature. When I’ve corrected people, I’ve had apologies including for misgendering me. When I pointed out that they didn’t misgender me but simply got my name wrong, it caused all sorts of hassle, including a debate as to the use of the word gender as opposed to biological sex, which wasn’t helped when I lost it once and said “I’m a masculine(ish) gay male – gender, sexuality, sex. Get it right or stop using those terms”.

          Now I’ve removed my pronouns, I don’t bother correcting people, stopped caring what people call me and I’m more the happier for it.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Yes. The “it will definitely be interpreted as a transphobic stance” part of the answer bums me out – it means that folks who don’t want to come out at work are stuck with the choice of either misgendering themselves or looking transphobic.

          1. DarthVelma*

            There is a third choice. People stop making negative assumptions about other people based on little or no meaningful information.

            1. ecnaseener*

              I mean yeah, that’s certainly the choice *I* make, and if I could snap my fingers and make everyone understand it I would! I’m still bummed out that (per the advice at least) it will be interpreted as bigoted by a lot of people.

          2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*


            I’m NB trans. I am as unbigoted as I can be in a world where systemic and implict biases influence everyone.
            I also don’t want to list my pronouns everywhere people are “encouraged” to and I don’t want to have to explain why not. There’s no way to do either that is equitable (doesn’t require more effort/personal disclosure/risk for me than others) and doesn’t call attention to difference in an othering way
            … exactly the opposite of what normalizing pronoun sharing as no big deal is meant to do!

            Frankly, given a choice between an Actual Bigot whose stance is “Everybody feel free to share as much or as little about themself as they wish in any circumstance, I’ll refer to anyone how they request or my best guess if they don’t request anything specific, and I’m not doing any more than that” versus a Self-Proclaimed Ally whose stance is “Everybody should declare their identity and labels in every circumstance, in a way that’s convenient to the audience, and pressure or marginalize those who don’t, I’ll refer to anyone how they request if their request aligns with what I consider acceptable”
            then I would rather have the bigot, thanks.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          This is really outside the point of the letter though. OP is comfortable sharing pronouns. OP put them in the profile “pronouns” field. And the time zone in the profile’s time zone. OP’s concern seems to be more like “my company is making us all use the software wrong”.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            I agree, I don’t think LW3 is going full John Proctor on this one, I think he’s just bothered that there’s an information redundancy and “name” isn’t just for his name. I get the company’s logic which is that having the information in the “name” field makes that information readily visible in the chat, since not everyone is going to go to your profile to see it. It does make sense to elevate that information to the top line if the company wants to prioritize its visibility.

            OTOH even the “optional but encouraged” stance puts implicit pressure on people to choose pronouns even if they don’t want to out themselves, because if everyone but you is declaring their pronouns, then you’re getting looked at like Schrodinger’s trans/phobe. I actually think LW would have an easier time pushing back against this directive on this logic than on the “name field is for names” principle. SOL on the time zone, though.

    4. PanTroglodytes*

      Couldn’t agree more. There have been some interesting posts on AAM where non-binary people, or people with a relationship with gender they’re trying to work through at their own pace, feeling forced to ‘out’ themselves with these identifiers. I know that’s not the gist of the LW3’s post, but the speed at which people assume bigotry is not fair and is divisive.

      The people who find identifiers easiest to use are those who are sure of their identity (i.e., mostly cis people, or people who’ve come to know what they prefer through a lot of hard work). Workplaces who force identifiers whack of caring too much about how they’re seen, rather than what they’re doing… i.e., virtue signalling… which personally I think is a real barrier to genuine progress. I really, really wish we wouldn’t be so quick to assume bigotry on people.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Agree. There is a lot of real estate between “I don’t respect other’s pronouns” and “I don’t want to designate my own pronouns.” The later is not bigotry.

        I don’t want to designate my pronouns. I’m a very obviously gay person who does not fit gender norms, and I have a gender neutral name. I have been called the wrong pronouns countless times in my life. I have never corrected anyone and don’t care to do so. I’m a bigot? Really?

        You do you, and let me do me. Let everyone else do them.

        1. Magenta*

          I wholeheartedly agree with this. Sharing pronouns should be a personal choice.

          Also as a woman in a senior role working across different countries I don’t want my sex to be the first thing people know about me, because it can change the way they treat me.

          1. scandi*

            There are studies on stereotype threat indicating that reminding women/girls that we are women/girls before a test (by e.g. collecting gender information) makes us perform worse, especially if the test is in an area like mathematics. We are reminded of our sex, which brings to mind negative stereotypes about women and mathematics, which makes us perform worse. I strongly oppose making pronoun sharing any kind of mandatory, especially in tech fields based on that. Going around a circle and asking all the women to identify themselves as women before getting into serious technical discussions does not seem like it would promote equality or inclusion.

            1. Malarkey01*

              Yes! I was just coming to see if anyone had mentioned these studies. In addition, there is subconscious/unconscious bias that presents when discussions o are presented starkly gendered.
              Madison (she) we should groom the llamas at 3
              Aidan (he) we should groom the llamas at 4
              Madison (she) I disagree
              Aidan (he) I don’t think you’ve considered all the factors like clean up

              This seems like an innocuous low level discussion but by reminding all participants of the genders it has introduced another layer to this conversation. I AM not saying those that wish to share pronouns should not, I support any choice to name and identify oneself.
              However, there are also reasons (and research) that as a woman some efforts to make gender a key identifier can cause harm. That’s why I want the CHOICE to not make my pronouns a requirement but I will support and fight for anyone that does want to so they have that right and then have that choice respected and used.
              Both things can be true (and often are in this world).

              1. Jackalope*

                Yes, that’s part of my concern too. My real life name is gender neutral (although more common with women), and I prefer to just use my name and not to have my gender be the first thing people know about me. It’s one thing if it’s in person (although I am AFAB and present that way pretty strongly), but it’s another if people are IM-ing with me and don’t know what I am. I prefer having that be ambiguous so that I’m not shoved into the girly incompetent box by default, even if the people doing so aren’t doing it on purpose.

                1. Worldwalker*

                  I play male toons in online games. The major reason for this is that male players put people into categories of “Fred, Charley, Fergus, Wakeen, females.” Their fellow males are “real people” who are all individuals; “females” get lumped together.

                  They have expectations of me if they know I’m female: I’m incompetent, I need handouts, I don’t like PK, and I play healers. (I’m of average competence, I generally have better gear than the people who think I want handouts do, I live for PK, and I won’t play a healer no matter what; I like tank or ranged DPS) If you don’t understand what I’m on about, tl/dr: They assume stereotypes.

                  And for those who know any of the people/companies in question, look at the way Ryan Dancey of AEG stuffed both feet in his mouth.

                  I want people to get to know *me* before (if ever) they know my plumbing. I have found over decades of experience in the online environment, going back to the BBS days, that few people can relate to me as an individual instead of an instance of type “female” if they don’t see me as their default (male) initially, and some people change their image of me from the person they know to “stereotypical female” even if they *do* know me, once they find out that my chromosomes aren’t what they imagined. For example, people who formerly asked me technical questions, switching to mansplaining trivial things to me.

                  I’m not “the female” (frequently the only one) in a situation, whether work (male-dominated field) or recreation — I’m Worldwalker. I’m me.

                  I am not a gender; I am a free person!

            2. Magenta*

              Absolutely this, internalised misogyny can be a major factor in performance, to some extent everyone, no matter their gender, has a bias expecting different strengths from people based on stereotypes.

              From personal experience I know my sex affected the subjects I took at school, maths was by far my strongest subject at 16 when I took my GCSEs but I didn’t pursue it when it was no longer compulsory because of some stupid idea that it wasn’t for girls, so post 16 I took English Lit, History and Politics because they felt more “appropriate”. I could have swapped one of those subjects for maths, and would have excelled but my own internal sexism stopped me.

              This is also part of the reason why girls do better, both socially and academically, in single sex schools, whereas academically it makes no difference to boys, but socially they do better in mixed sex schools. In single sex schools there are no “boys” or “girls” subjects because there is no chance of bias when it comes to who the teachers spend most time helping.

              Personally I want to draw as little notice to my sex as possible because I believe advertising it increases bias and preconceptions, pronouns have not come up in my company yet and for that I am greatful.

        2. Zennish*

          It’s even problematic for me as a Zen Buddhist. One of my beliefs is that individual identity is ultimately a delusion, and that attaching to it is what causes suffering in life. I don’t generally designate my pronouns, worry about gender expression, etc. because it’s important to me to wear my personal identity very lightly, and not get overly wrapped up in defining it. I also 100% support everyone else living their own truth, whatever it is.

          My point being that there are all sorts of reasons why someone might opt out of pronouns and such, and they aren’t always the obvious ones.

      2. Tau*


        I really don’t like it when we do the binary thing where if you have an Approved (TM) reason not to list pronouns then you’re good and valid but otherwise you’re probably a bigot. I could have written a letter a little like OP’s back when I still thought I was cis, at a point when I would’ve looked at a display name like that and known it made me feel uncomfortable but not known why. Now, obviously I’m not saying OP is actually some flavour of trans but hasn’t figured it out yet – names and identity are very personal things and cis people are allowed to be particular about them as well! – but the attitude of assuming bigotry can have a lot of splash damage.

        I mean, obviously some people don’t want to share pronouns because they are bigots, but you’d typically see some other warning indicators of that and it’s not the vibe I’m getting off OP.

      3. anon24*

        I personally feel like I overthink this. I am a cisgender female, and am comfortable with my gender identity and am not bigoted. I don’t share my pronouns.

        I definitely think we should normalize sharing them, but then I start thinking that it shouldn’t be forced, because people who are still figuring it out or don’t want to out themselves shouldn’t have to use pronouns they aren’t comfortable with. But then I start thinking that if it gets to the point that everyone who IS comfortable with their pronouns shares them, then NOT sharing your pronouns would out you by default, so then maybe I should not share my pronouns, so as to keep things not obvious and make it so you cant tell who just isnt sharing and who does not want to be out yet.

        And then I realize how massively I’m overthinking it and I worry I just look like a transphobic bigot.

        1. It's not me, honest*

          As someone who hasn’t figured out my pronouns, I appreciate you not sharing yours.

          1. JSPA*

            Hi Anon24.

            I’m an older someone who presents ambiguously (in the shlubbiest, least intentional ways). I find all pronouns an imperfect fit (albeit for different reasons). I don’t like stating my pronouns for social / conversational use.

            For documents, given that I’m old enough to have fought for using “Ms,” I sigh and use it, where “Dr” would be either misleading or too pretentious.

            I’m equally happy/unhappy to answer to “sir” or “maam” in passing.

            People I know socially seem to default about 90% “she” and 9% “they,” and fractional percents for anything more creative, in referring to me. So long as I don’t get snippy or confused about what they call me, I don’t feel there’s a pressing need for me to state, if it gives me a moment of misery, every time I see them listed.

            Thank you for keeping that ( ) space open for me.

            If they had the option to change the size of the typeface to indicate exactly how important your pronouns are to you, and how comfortable you are stating your own, I think I could get into using 5 pt typeface, and putting something down. (Like, “if you really need to know, you can magnify for visibility.”)

            1. ecnaseener*

              Ha, I like the “you can magnify” idea. If you’re talking about me and worried about misgendering me, then yes I’m happy for you to be able to find my pronouns. Do I want them up front and center on every email I send? Idk, I waffle on that.

        2. Hey you*

          Also someone who hasn’t yet figured out my own pronouns and is not comfortable letting other people know about my internal struggle. Thank you for not including your pronouns!

          I work in higher Ed and we are encouraged to use pronouns in our signature and even to introduce ourselves on the first day of class with “I’m professor Y, and I use the pronouns”… It’s horrible. I think I’m ok with they/them or she/her, but I present as cis woman and don’t want (a) out myself to my students (conservative state), (b) misgender myself, or (c) say please use “hey you”, which frankly is more comfortable than any pronouns right now!

          1. JSPA*

            professor gives you a nice out…”for address and in place of pronouns, please us ‘professor, prof, or the prof.'”

            “Prof says, the prof’s chair, give it to the prof, does prof expect us to have the essays done before break / prof’s grading is really harsh”–it all works.

            And it’s easy to justify in a red state, as “you will call me professor” is downright old skool!

        3. AFAB Enby*

          But then I start thinking that if it gets to the point that everyone who IS comfortable with their pronouns shares them, then NOT sharing your pronouns would out you by default

          AFAB Enby here who runs in a lot of online social circles where listing pronouns is super common. When someone doesn’t list pronouns, I don’t think, “Oh, this person must be a bigot.” In fact, I don’t think much of anything of it at all, if I even notice pronouns aren’t listed. Which I usually don’t. Legit the only time I would raise an eyebrow over it would be if the person had already done something that came off gross, and I was looking for confirmation of my perceptions.

          Like, “Oh, look, after Joey made that gross comment about transgender people, I’m not surprised that jerk doesn’t even share pronouns.” But I would never think, “This perfectly fine person who’s never done anything gross doesn’t list pronouns, so MUST be a bigot!” by default.

          1. AFAB Enby*

            Oops, wrong text in my paste buffer. I was responding more to the part about overthinking using pronouns making someone look like a transphobic bigot by default.

  9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    #1: I agree, everything is personal taste up to the “please break the law for us, no really it’s an order” part. Once your job starts getting into immoral or unethical territory, it’s time to bounce.

    Kind of sucks, because you probably won’t find another job who wants to pay you full time wages for a handful of work (which is nuts anyway, what kind of people are willing to pay that much money and not get their money’s worth?). But you absolutely cannot break the law, compromise professional ethics, and probably risk your licensing.

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to work there anyway. All jobs have pros and cons but the cons would just be too much for me. And it doesn’t sound very stable-I don’t quite trust what the manager says about wanting to keep you despite you largely not having work to do.

    1. Artemesia*

      and if it hits the fan before you leave, even though you are ‘innocent’ it will cost you money to defend yourself.

      1. Bess*

        Yes, even a few hours of attorney time is so, so expensive, not to mention a full defense. LW should figure this into what they are giving up to stay in this job.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I wonder if they do want to keep OP – but as the fall person when the IRS or other legal entities come with questions about the shenanigans Boss want OP to sign off on.

      RUN RUN RUN!

      1. Sarah M*

        This had crossed my mind, as well. (I’m also a lawyer.)

        OP, please start your exit plan immediately. and document, document, document. Also, please consult an attorney ASAP, just to protect yourself.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      I would definitely fear job elimination as a possibility and would not feel comfortable thinking this would be a job to support my family.

    4. theletter*

      part of me wonders if the great salary and low hours is in part payment for the known illegal activity . . . . . .

    5. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      That’s a very good point – when the major con might be that you become a Con, it’s time to leave. Half work for full pay, little oversight and astonishing flexibility might well be the ways they are baiting the trap for when the Truly Illegal Birds come home to roost.

    6. what the nope*

      Yeah, my first thought was that the full time pay and other bennies are in (unspoken) exchange for breaking the law for the company. Buying complicity.

  10. MEH Squared*

    I actually have an issue with the policy of mandatory pronouns because I prefer not to use any, but I support everyone being called by their pronouns. I would want to know if at the workplace of OP#3, it would be fine to put ‘no pronouns’ or ‘just my name’ instead of pronouns. I would have a big problem if I HAD to put pronouns.

    Having said that, I’m with with others, OP#3. No one is going to think he/him is part of your name, so it’s disingenuous of you to protest on that basis.

    1. MEH Squared*

      Having read some of the other comments, if it’s just that you don’t want it as part of your name for whatever reason, I think you’ll have to decide if that’s a hill you want to die on. If it is, then you can bring it up to TPTB if you’re willing. It would probably help if you had a reason other than just ‘I don’t want to’ if you do decide to bring it up. You know your office culture the best and if that would be fruitful.

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      could you clarify? Nobody uses no pronouns. “Alex picked up laptop”. pronouns determine possession so if it is your laptop, you’re using pronouns.

        1. AFAB Enby*

          “Alex picked up the laptop” if you don’t really need to specify the laptop belongs to Alex.

          “Alex picked up Alex’s laptop” is also just fine, grammatically correct, and only sounds awkward because you’re not used to doing it that way. There are languages where that kind of phrasing would be perfectly normal and commonplace! I’m someone who doesn’t use pronouns for myself at all, nor for a character I roleplay as, and it does take some conscious effort at first to rewrite sentences without pronouns that don’t feel awkward to me. But after a few years of it, it’s pretty much second nature to me to write in such a way that pronouns aren’t needed for those who don’t use them. And for ones where you might end up having to use the same name multiple times in a sentence, it sticks out much less to me now than it did five years ago.

          I’m undoing almost forty years of language programming, so it will still take some time, and I might never shake some of the awkward feelings ingrained in me since childhood. But putting in the work has had great results.

          1. AFAB Enby*

            I’m someone who doesn’t use pronouns for myself at all

            To preempt: I’m talking about third-person, not first-person or second-person pronouns. First and second are considered ungendered by default in my language, so I don’t have a problem with them the way I do with third-person.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I mean pronouns in terms of gender identity and the current procedure of putting your gender pronouns after your name at work or any other setting. I am currently agender, so I don’t identify with she, he, they, or any neopronouns.

        I do use personal pronouns, so I would easily say “I picked up my laptop” (in your example. But if someone were to talk about me, I know it would be awward for them to say, “MEH Squared picked up MEH Squared’s laptop.” It’s what I would prefer, as ungainly as it is, but I accept they would probably say ‘her’ based on how I appear or ‘they’ if they know I don’t identify as a woman.

        1. It's not me, honest*

          Yeah, I have exactly this problem too. People use “she” for me and I can live with that, because no pronouns feel right and having no pronoun feels wrong too. But I don’t want to own “she” as a pronoun by declaring it as my pronoun. Ugh.

          1. Opting out*

            Oh, this is exactly how I feel. Everybody uses she/her pronouns for me, and I’m fine with it and I’m used to it. But I don’t claim them.

            1. Worldwalker*

              Personally, I don’t care. I’m ace (but not aro), which probably enters into this. Call me whatever, she, he, they; as long as people know who you’re talking about, I’m fine with it. Yeah, I’m probably a lot more genderfluid than I’ve ever realized, but at 60, it’s kind of late to try sorting it out.

          2. Ev*

            Thank you for articulating this – I feel very much the same and seeing it written out helps me put words to my own feelings.

        2. MEH Squared*

          *their in the second example I gave, of course (picking up their laptop, not they laptop).

      2. Tau*

        Like Worldwalker said, you use the name in all situations.

        It’s linguistically awkward, but this is my own secret preference. I don’t ask for it because I don’t want to ask people to adjust their language to that level, but any pronoun set feels kind of uncomfortable and squidgy, with the one I consider preferred (singular they) being the least of all possible evils. My name along with long-running pseuds like Tau don’t have that problem.

      3. JSPA*

        That’s actually a thing, and it’s not as complex as it sounds. I mean…yeah… people will probably drop in a “their / them” from time to time, If they get themselves into a grammatical confusion, in speaking. But,

        “tell Alix the laptop is fixed, and I’ll have it ready wednesday after a final check, and to please come pick it up before friday or else let me know if we need to make alternate plans, because I’ll be out next week” contains all the essential information without using any pronouns for Alix (nor name repetition).

      4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        No, people do indeed use no pronouns, or to have no pronouns used for those people.
        Even more commonly, many people use first- and second-person pronouns but request no singular third-person pronouns be used. Some are fine with plural their/theirs used to refer to a group that includes them, because the first-, second-, and plural third-person don’t indicate any gender for the person who doesn’t wish to be labeled in that way.

        1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          Ugh, typo, should be “people do indeed use no pronouns, or request to have no pronouns used for those people.”

      5. Nina*

        Some people do in fact use no pronouns. It’s linguistically challenging but I find I get the hang of it pretty fast. Easier if the name is shorter or if the person is comfortable with using a diminutive of their name as a kind of de facto pronoun. Harder if the person isn’t okay with second-person pronouns (much rarer, I’ve run into that like, once).

      6. Janeric*

        I’ve run into “no pronouns” (where a name is used instead of pronouns) a couple of times, and I don’t get out much — I think it’s fairly common.

    3. Agender Alex*

      I think this is one of the problems with requiring pronoun displays in general. I’m agender and I don’t care what pronouns people use for me, but it’s rarely best *for me* to disclose that upfront. Based on my own experience and discussions with friends and family I suspect that there are a lot of people who don’t identify very strongly or at all with their assigned/ perceived gender and explicitly claiming those pronouns could be uncomfortable. And being asked for pronouns might well be the first time they’ve had to actually think about their gender (or lack thereof)*. But that doesn’t mean that they want to claim different pronouns. And a lot of them want to be allies so sometimes they/ we end up in a weird place.

      So yes, it’s great for cis allies to normalize pronoun sharing but once everyone has to actually stop and actively affirm their gender I just think there are fewer cis people than we might assume.

      *before anyone comes at me with “gender is everywhere”, that’s true BUT in my experience most of it is either misogyny or toxic masculinity so, again ime, it’s possible to spend most of your life rejecting gender on those grounds, rather than realising that it is fundamentally irrelevant to you personally.

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        I suspect that there are a lot of people who don’t identify very strongly or at all with their assigned/ perceived gender and explicitly claiming those pronouns could be uncomfortable. And being asked for pronouns might well be the first time they’ve had to actually think about their gender (or lack thereof)*. But that doesn’t mean that they want to claim different pronouns. And a lot of them want to be allies so sometimes they/ we end up in a weird place.

        Ooh, well put.

      2. Random Dice*

        All of this is really making me think! Thanks to all who are opening up my internal world.

      3. Anonymously Pondering Gender*

        Yes. Since first being in a space where giving pronouns was encouraged as part of introductions, I’ve been trying to figure out whether my reluctance to give my pronouns as she/her is because I’ve always downplayed my gender in online spaces (which makes sense there, but these were in-person spaces) or because my gender isn’t actually female.

        These days I say “any pronouns are fine”.

  11. RoseGarden*

    LW 1 – Time to turn on Gnarls Barkley’s Run and, well, start running. The CEO gets mad at you for not doing illegal things and it is already warping your norms. If you were telling me that you were just doing this until you retire, then it might be worth it, but if you plan to do other jobs after this one, start running.

    1. CityMouse*

      I went through the same thought process as Alison where I thought “Well, you can work with that… Oh heck no!” It’s too bad because a lot of the stuff described by LW1 would be nice for a new parent. But that CEO stuff is just so bad you just can’t keep working there.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Even someone coasting towards retirement should run away fast, because the liability for previous criminal acts doesn’t suddenly stop at retirement date.

    3. Mockingjay*

      And consult an attorney, immediately. Not sure whether it should be a tax or criminal attorney; contact Legal Aid or your state’s bar association for assistance with a referral.

  12. Anonymous for this one*

    Re: #3, I’m entirely in favor of encouraging people to display their pronouns in various contexts, including and especially at work. Requiring it universally is another thing, though, and can be harmful to some of the very people it’s meant to protect.

    It’s a long journey from egg to fully transitioned trans person—one that not everyone reaches the far end of—and there are stretches where you’re not ready to announce your new pronouns yet, but it can be painful to openly affirm the wrong gender, even if you’re still presenting that way.

    I’m in one of those stretches myself.

    1. Gritter*

      My company gives people the option to place their pronouns in their signature if they want to. No one is encouraged/pressured to do so and no judgement is passed either way.

      This is the correct way to approach it as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Zzz*

    #4 – if you’re employing for similar positions (e.g. support worker) as what you did informally, and you have no professional experience, I think there may be an argument for leaving it on. Specifically, familiarity with disability-related bureaucracy*. People tend not to learn to navigate that until their life or livelihood depends on it.

    *If your work for your loved one was more “general admin support” and less “navigating obscure bureaucracy” then I would leave it off.

    1. Zzz*

      Though I’d keep your focus very much on what processes you’re familiar with; if you focus on the day-to-day caring load, 1- your prospective employer may just take away from that “if she’s doing all this work as a carer, does she even have time/energy to work?”
      2- your employer may (rightly – or wrongly!) question your judgement or character generally if they think you’re exaggerating or misunderstanding how work-like your informal care was.

      Basically – and I hope you don’t mind the comparison – don’t include any tasks that a good parent wouldn’t be doing for 90% of children. These would look out of place on the resume of a SAHP returning to work, and they’d look similarly on yours: after all, the work and skills of scheduling and communicating or advocating for someone isn’t different between a spouse or a child; only your relationship is.

      1. JSPA*

        “Broad familiarity with the following: insurance and disability denials, regulations regarding [x, y, z]” (etc) Include them as you would include other skills relevant for the job (brochure layout, pivot tables, whatever).

        There are differences from caring for a kid, in that the legalities of HCPOA and POA’s for a previously-independent adult, and the specifics of the red tape involved, are quite different, from a childcare situation (where a parent will almost always automatically have signing authority for a minor, and the minor is unlikely to have their own complex set of financial dealings and contracts).

        But if you’re just trying to say, “I would have done a lot more at work if I were not also doing this incredibly complex and draining thing that’s normally invisible to the work world, and thankless, and miserable, and so hard”–no. That’s what you take to a friend, or to a support group, or yell it into the wind. But it’s doing you no favors on a CV / resumé / cover letter.

        If you’re ever going back to school for social work or nursing or med school, you can pull it back out. But not for the job application process.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      Conventions on this vary, but for me, this is the type of thing that goes in a cover letter (if relevant to the job), not the CV. CVs are for education and professional experience, cover letters are for personal connection and motivation. “I learned how to navigate obscure disability-related bureaucracy and now want to apply my knowledge to the benefit of others” is a fine sentiment for a cover letter. Again, if relevant to the job, and overinflating will backfire.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes to this.
        Ages ago (the mid 90’s) my dad hired an intern through his alumni association based on the guy’s cover letter, which described spending the previous summer acting as the full-time caregiver to his grandfather who had severe dementia. The guy had not gotten several other jobs because he “hadn’t worked” the previous summer, but my dad (and the other folks at his group) saw someone who had taken on an incredibly difficult job and was able to describe how that work translated to an engineering management consulting company.

        And this guy was *great* at his job, interned another summer, went on to do great things and is still a family friend.
        (I also super had a crush on him which I’m sure he noticed but also kindly ignored, which is just another example of what kind of great guy he was.)

        In most contexts his caregiving wouldn’t have been relevant, and I’m not sure if it would be appropriate outside of the context of an internship application, but he was able to show how it was relevant to the job.

        1. sophie hatter*

          I would agree that it can definitely be relevant in a cover letter if it explains a lack of and/or gap in work history – or (possibly even in a resume itself) if caring responsibilities have been significant and are directly related to the job (ie. if someone who has been providing unpaid care/advocacy for a loved one is now applying to be a paid caregiver / care coordinator / disability advocate for others).

          I know people who have been both paid and unpaid caregivers for siblings with complex disabilities, and the responsibilities are often pretty similar between the two. Who is paid / unpaid probably has more to do with local disability benefits, benefit eligibility determinations, and family finances than the level of care being provided, but I would also be very conscious that outside of disability/caring-related fields, that’s probably not something employers are going to be aware of.

      2. Hats Are Great*

        Yes, this. Or sometimes, something you have in your back pocket for the interviews. Where maybe they ask about research and self-motivation, and you give your work examples, and then you add (from my own life), “I also — and this is more personal — my child is disabled, and basically you’re left to navigate the educational and medical bureaucracies on your own. So I devoted myself to learning it, researching the rules, understanding how to navigate these bureaucracies and advocate for his rights. It’s a lot of very technical legal rules, and some of it’s state and some of it’s federal, and I spent a lot of time researching and learning. So I did that for my own child, and the friends started referring their friends to me, and I’ve helped probably thirty families navigate the process to get a diagnosis and get appropriate supports at school, walked them through it and supported them and researched the specifics of their child’s situation — because it’s a really hard and emotional time for the parents. I’ve also become an advocate for disabled children, and I’ve engaged with my state and federal legislatures on these issues and processes, both advocating for better policies but also for similar processes.”

        After showing my skills in legal research and mastering complex topics in work situations, I will sometimes (read the room!) talk about my experience doing that as a parent, and then as a friend, and then as a political advocate. It’s informal, it’s family-related, but my state representative knows me by name and expects me to call when there’s a new special ed bill, and I’ve been pleased to have a few of my suggestions/complaints incorporated into bills that passed the statehouse. I got to meet my US Senators because of my advocacy for disabled children. It’s not formal, and I’m not interested in making it formal (there is such a job as IEP Advocate or Special Ed Attorney, but I would hate that — I vastly prefer helping friends and friends-of-friends through a confusing process; it would be so stressful for it to be my job).

        There is also 100% a risk that as a woman I am talking about being a mom, and — beyond that — talking about having a disabled child with more intense needs. But I decided a decade ago that I had zero interest in working for an employer who didn’t respect and understand that (after a very bad experience when pregnant with my second child where I was basically laid off because the manager thought pregnancy was “gross” and that women with children weren’t competent). So, definitely recognize this as a risk. But for me, I prefer to be pretty up-front about it in my interviews, because I know I won’t be a good fit somewhere that is hostile to involved parents.

        (I currently have some seniority at work and I try to advocate for my peers who have less seniority by baldly stating things like, “I understand the business justification for X thing, but it’s going to be very difficult for me to arrange childcare on such short notice.” (because I know several of my younger colleagues are in a way tougher spot, with younger kids, but don’t want to speak up.) Sometimes I succeed at, for example, getting them to give us a month’s lead time on travel rather than a single week.)

  14. Katy*

    I think it’s weird that everyone’s piling on #3, when he says clearly that he includes his pronouns in his Slack bio, and he doesn’t seem to have any problem with other people including their pronouns. He just doesn’t like having them and the time zone typed out on the same line as his name. I don’t exactly get it, but names are very personal to people and a lot of people have complicated associations with their own names and they way they are perceived or presented. I can think of a few good reasons why someone might want to have strict control over how his name appears to other people.

    And I actually think requiring people to type their pronouns out like that is already iffy, because some people genuinely aren’t comfortable sharing their pronouns that publicly. Not because they’re anti-pronoun, but because they’re not out, or their pronouns are complicated and they don’t feel like talking about it to everyone, or because they don’t particularly identify with any pronoun. Haven’t we seen letters about that before? Like, there’s a difference between creating opportunities for sharing pronouns and actually mandating that everyone state their pronouns publicly, and it sounds like this company is mandating it in the most visible and standardized way possible.

    1. Antmarch*

      “I don’t exactly get it, but names are very personal to people and a lot of people have complicated associations with their own names and they way they are perceived or presented.”

      okay sure but let’s ignore the pronoun issue and look at timezones issue. It is a bit silly (for lack of. better word) to think that if the company said “John Smith (PST)” that anyone would actually think PST was part of their name and that their name was being presented anything other than John Smith.

      Adding pronouns or timezones in that spot is not presenting their name as anything other than John Smith.
      it is for ease of use/convenience.

      1. Jackalope*

        The PST bit was actually more potential confusion for me. The he/him is clearly a set of pronouns. If I knew that everyone had their time zone listed I’d probably catch the PST as well, but otherwise I’d be trying to figure out which job title abbreviated to PST.

        1. AlsoADHD*

          My company includes time zones in Slack name and it’s amazing. We started about a year ago and as someone who has to work with people across several TZs, and works with different people on varied projects, it’s improved my quality of life. Might be the ADHD, but it was one more thing to juggle and take brain space and now it’s just easy!

      2. True nyms have power*

        I think that people are confusing names and nyms here. Yes, his name is John Doe and all sorts of additional information could be appended to that in the text box… but his _nym_ is just John Doe, and adding anything to that is an intrusion on his core Slack/work identity.

        It’s 99.999% analogous to requiring a ‘Chris’ to use his government-issued-ID-matching name ‘Christopher’. (Or ‘Christina’, hers, if you prefer.) There may be excellent moral, ethical, philosophical, and/or legal reasons to require it, but it’s still requiring those affected by the decree to identify as someone other than they’d wish to.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          But no-one will think that’s his name *or* nym. He’s not required to replace, just append, and that will be obvious.

          1. Llama Identity Thief*

            You made me think of something that made me re-read the letter – I don’t think he even cares about how other people read his name. Nowhere in his part of the letter does he state something about not wanting OTHER PEOPLE to view his name as “John Doe (he/him) (PST).” Combined with the other details, it just seems like an incredibly personal thing – like each time he reads “John Doe (he/him) (PST)” on his Slack head or in a message, as his name, it feels like an affront to himself.

            Still definitely Weird! Still not the hill to die on! But I think the commentariat is missing where the motivation is coming from here – I really don’t read this as motivated by external factors at all, just his own intense love of his name, and that name being The Core of his identity.

            1. True nyms have power*

              Not Weird at all… unless you also think that pronouns are Weird.

              The name/nym dichotomy is just another angle on the identifier/identity thing. “On the Internet [well, Slack] nobody knows that you’re a dog.” Etcetera.

              LW3 wants to be “John Doe” in Slack; I assume a helpful, polite llama groomer extraordinaire. Corporate wants him to be “John Doe, the man-identified/ing drone on the west coast”. These are not the same picture, and LW3 is rightly, if inarticulately, upset about being told that they are.

              1. Llama Identity Thief*

                Okay, lemme clarify what I mean by “bean bag” Weird then – something that will not be viewed in the professional lens favorably, and will probably require a significant expenditure of political capital/getting some side eyes from it, although something that if I’m running a company, I would have no qualms with. This is what I’m trying to get at with “not the hill” – I get what LW’s feeling, but acting on that feeling will be seen by our professionalism-addicted culture in a negative light.

                I am “bean bag” Weird as hell, and view it not just as fine, but as a moral virtue.

              2. Joron Twiner*

                If you can’t handle the change in portraying yourself as “John Doe the human who contains multitudes” and “John Doe, corporate drone” when acting as a corporate drone interacting with other corporate drones, the experience of work will probably be too abrasive for you to handle for 40 hrs a week…

      3. Emmy Noether*

        It’s like when some software (Teams does this) appends “(Guest)” to people dialing in from outside the company. No one is confused by “Emmy Noether (Guest)”, no one gets a choice to have it there or not, and I’ve never encountered anyone having a problem with it.

        I think appending info to display names in itself is normal and not confusing.

        Whether requiring obligatory pronouns at all is a good idea is a different question and has been adressed in previous letters (it’s not, in my opinion).

    2. Zzz*

      Re: your second paragraph, that’s why I actually like the preferred in “preferred pronouns” (and think it’s a pity now we’re just asking *someone’s* pronouns): what pronouns do you prefer people use for you here and now?
      Then they’re not asking that you know what you like or that you’re honest about it: you can truthfully answer that you prefer she/her at this time – because you don’t know which ones are “yours” and until you figure it out, as people generally assume you’re she/her anyway, this is the least fuss and headache and the least risk of transphobia.

      I know many people consider “preferred” a transphobic dogwhistle, though. But I like it, as it allows me to answer honestly.

      1. Forest*

        I always say (and encourage anyone I can) to use the language “what pronouns would you like us to use for you?” (some people add “today”). I think this addresses your concerns, and recognizes that this can be variable depending on the group or even the day, but keeps away from language that has been used to invalidate trans folks’ self-determination.

      2. Cmdrshpard*

        If it helps people by explicitly saying “preferred” and/or “now” go a head an use it. But to me asking “what are your pronouns” is asking what “what pronouns do you prefer we call you here/now/today.” just implied.

        To me it is like asking someone their name, “What is your name or everyone please introduce yourselves?” is not asking what is your full legal name exactly as it appears on your birth certificate (being asked for official work/registration paperwork is a different story) and you will hereby be forever known by that name and it cant be changed, but in a meeting/informal setting being asked for your name is “what do you prefer people call you today” if you are james smith you can say james, or try out jim it does not even have to be a single name that defines you for the rest of your life/career. You can feel like going by Jim for this meeting decide it does not work you don’t like it and next time say you want to go by james/jimmy etc….

      3. Temperance*

        I say “personal pronouns” instead of preferred. I think “preferred” makes it sound like using someone’s designated pronouns is optional.

      4. Worldwalker*

        How is “preferred” a transphobic dog whistle? Isn’t it just … a normal English word meaning “what do you prefer”?

        1. penny dreadful analyzer*

          The argument is that preferences are subjective–they are neither factually correct nor incorrect–whereas someone’s gender is what it is, and if you misgender them you are being factually and objectively incorrect.

          (This take has definitely got some roots in the modern Western assumption that subjectivity is not real, or at least less real than objectivity, rather than a different type/category of real, but given that we live in modern Western society, I give it a pass unless we’re actually having an in-depth discussion about subjectivity and objectivity)

    3. CityMouse*

      I guess I’m just rolling my eyes because my Slack says “CityMouse – Generally 9-5 EST”. My org wants that info in our names and of course someone’s not going to think my name is “9-5 EST” (I have my pronouns in my email signature).

      This isn’t a hill to die on. It will make them look bad at work. The reactions here hopefully help LW because they’ll get a preview of what their coworkers might think if they DO choose to push this.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      Thanks for framing it like this, you hit on something that bothers me about a convention at my workplace that I couldn’t quite name….It’s very common in my workplace to state pronouns when addressing an audience (which happens somewhat regularly for many employees), but it’s unclear to my why, because there’s no real situation where someone will be talking about me and misgender me in public. Maybe someone will say “oh, his talk was interesting,” and my pronouns aren’t he/him/his, but it just doesn’t seem to apply well to this context. (It’s another story if there’s going to be a lot of internal conversation, like in a brainstorm session–then “oh, I liked AnotherSarah’s idea, especially when he said that…” would be awkward and I’d want to avoid being misgendered.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        When you do public speaking to an audience you’re building a professional reputation, in either a major or minor context. I would absolutely want my pronouns to be correct in that context.

        1. AnotherSarah*

          Sure–but the context around it matters. Most of our talks are for people we won’t interact with again. So it’s quite different than a work situation. I also don’t care if the audience at a talk later mispronounces my name–whereas if I were interacting with that person more frequently, I would care.

      2. Temperance*

        I do this when I speak publicly. I do it to a.) normalize pronoun sharing, and b.) to signal to any of my queer and trans colleagues that I’m a safe person and an ally.

        It costs me nothing to introduce myself with pronouns.

  15. A person in retail*

    LW 3, what if you tell yourself that “name” (or whatever exactly Slack calls this field) is just an abbreviation for “name and other info so immediately useful when communicating that it’s worth putting right there on every message”? That seems to be how your company wants it treated, so just tell yourself that’s what it is.

    Also, I may be wrong since I am not sure I fully understand your objection. But I suspect that if you do it, and everyone in the organization also does it, in a week it will stop bothering you because you’ll be used to everyone’s messages starting with name, pronouns, time zone, and you’ll all see it as “name followed by stuff that isn’t name.” You could even try thinking of the pronouns and time zone as a mandatory prefix to each message, rather than a mandatory attachment to the name. It’s just for technical reasons it’s implemented by putting it in the name field.

    1. elemen*

      I was coming here to say this!

      LW3, names are the primary purpose of the name field, and most conversations would quickly become confusing if ONLY pronouns and time zones were attached to messages, with no names at all. But it’s pretty common for something intended for one purpose to be stretched to include others as well. A driver’s license that also states whether or not you’re an organ donor is still a driver’s license — and for that matter, what we call a “driver’s license” is more often used as personal identification than as evidence of being licensed to drive specifically.

      The name of a thing isn’t always a good description of how it’s actually used, and it might help to think of this as a field that’s misleadingly named, rather than an accurately named field you’re being asked to fill incorrectly.

  16. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    LW3: I have seen signatures that have shift hours listed. Basically Name, contact info, title and shift hours. Time zone doesn’t seem to far from that. Pushing back on time zone seems like a tough one to me.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      He’s not pushing back on listing them -at all-. He’s pushing back on listing them in the name field. The complete profile has fields and room for that stuff.

  17. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Re: # 3 — while I don’t know his reasoning, I can understand there being rationale that isn’t bigotry (which many people have mentioned above).

    In my case, I have a complicated relationship with my name — it isn’t a “standard” name in the US (where I was born, raised, and still live), but it’s also not “standard” in my family’s country of origin, which means I get a TON of “Oh where’s that from / what does that mean?” and while I don’t mind engaging on this topic, sometimes I’d like to just exist — especially at work! — without being the person who routinely is explaining the origin and translation of their name. Additionally, people often mispronounce it. At best, they do so by using Spanish/French/Italian pronunciations (very chic tbh, I don’t always hate this!), and at worst by telling me to my face they’ll never get the pronunciation right and then continuing to mispronounce it on an ongoing basis for years. And the trifecta of my name shame is that the easiest nickname is also a lesser-used but still well known slang term for a sex act, which was the source of a decade-plus of mockery from elementary school through early college. It took me years to accept my name after fits and starts of going by my middle name, going by first initial dot middle name last name, using a fake name entirely at coffee shops, and telling people “easier” versions of my name they can call me, just to avoid awkwardness. Only now in my late 30s have I really come to love and own it.

    All of which is to say — I am very particular about using my name without any sort of qualifications, after decades of making too many qualifications to make it easier for other people. Even for something as simple as “Detective Rosa Diaz (she/her)” on Slack, it took me years to accept and love “Detective Rosa Diaz.” I’m not ready to give up the recently earned confidence of seeing just that standing alone and knowing it’s more than enough.

    1. Llama Identity Thief*


      Thank you for sharing this. I think this is a perfect look at how this may be an entirely internal debate for LW #3, and the concern isn’t “how will other people read my name” but “how will the name field read to myself.”

    2. Cmdrshpard*

      “I’m not ready to give up the recently earned confidence of seeing just that standing alone and knowing it’s more than enough.”

      I get how the issues with your name can color how you view it, but adding (pronouns or timezone) is not a qualification on your name it is un related to your name because most (I want to say no one) won’t think it is part of your actual name. I would totally understand if the company was asking you to “simplify/westernize” your name and cited convenience that would be a different story. But adding easy to see info at the end is different and not a comment on your name.

      I can understand why you might not want to, but it would still seems a like not good/great hill to die on.

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        I hear you! I would ask once if I can opt out, but if there was pushback, it’s not a hill I personally would die on — but I can see the potential discomfort for people who’d prefer not to go along with this.

      2. The Rafters*

        I’m going with hill to die on. There are likely employees who are not out and don’t want to announce their preferred pronouns. If the company’s excuse is that they want to prove they are safe that doesn’t fly because the company is forcing employees to out themselves, the very opposite of what is supposed to happen with a safe person or safe business. I’ll be LW is not the only employee who doesn’t like the rule. I do think LW is a bit over the top with the complaint about the time zone.

    3. gyrfalcon17*

      On name mispronunciation: it’s possible your colleague doesn’t hear the difference between their way and the correct way. I have a friend from another country, and no matter how many sessions of me trying and her correcting me, I still can’t hear the difference she’s trying to get me to hear, even though it’s painfully obvious to her.

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        This doesn’t make it okay! If she’s corrected it multiple times, it seems like it does matter to her – and it can feel othering to not have that be prioritized. And in my case, the people in question have said they can hear the difference, but just can’t remember it.

        1. Observer*

          If someone can’t hear it they can’t hear it. Also, sometimes people can hear it, but they really can’t pronounce it. These are both real things and saying that “it’s not ok” is just as unfair as refusing to even try.

          So, the people who DO hear it but “just can’t remember” (ie just can’t be bothered) are a very different story. And it’s important to differentiate the two.

          1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

            Thank you all for the linguistics lessons. Because this largely happens for non-Westernized names, it’s hard to not read this as Western languages taking priority over others. (Things like tin ear are understandable exceptions to this.)

            Also – great scientific study on how adult brains can be retrained to pick up foreign sounds more easily:

            1. Joron Twiner*

              Oh goodness. This happens for non-Westernized names IN THE WEST, where yes Western languages take priority.

              Here in Asia Western names get butchered all the time. Sometimes people can hear the difference, sometimes they can’t, sometimes they don’t care to remember. Yes it’s always a microaggression but there’s not always something you can do about it *shrug*

        2. Antony-mouse*

          But that isn’t how linguistics works. If you are not exposed a phoneme before I think the age of 9 months, it is almost impossible to learn to pronounce it. If they have a phoneme distinction that you don’t have in your language and didn’t hear as a baby, you will not be able to hear that difference and learn to pronounce it. No amount of telling them they’re a bad person for not learning the difference is able to make up for how the language processing and sound production centres of our brain work

        3. Worldwalker*

          You learn the phonemes you hear in childhood, during the early language learning phase of life. There are phonemes in some languages that sound the same to me. It’s simply not possible for me to make the correct sound, because *to my ear* I can’t tell it from the incorrect one. It doesn’t matter how much I prioritize it, it is simply not possible.

          I have a tin ear, too, which made my childhood hell because my parents wanted me to learn to play a French horn. After five years of daily practice, I could not play a note matching one I heard, nor the correct one on the score. I spent 1,825 hours trying to learn how to make the correct sounds. If that isn’t sufficient “prioritization” nothing is. And I still couldn’t do it. When we moved, the band director at my new school realized why (and his pitch testing machine proved it).

          Some people have perfect pitch. It’s easy for them.
          Some people have normal pitch. It’s possible for them.
          Some people have tin ears. It’s impossible for them.

          That’s as true for phonemes that are not the ones they learned as infants (consider the difficulty many people whose first languages don’t have separate phonemes for “l” and “r” sounds have in saying them) as it is for French horns.

  18. John Smith*

    re #1. Is there anyone else who can speak to your boss about these issues? With the meddling colleague, is it possible to keep photocopies / read-only or password protected copies of your unmessed up work? If it comes to having documents you dont want your signature on, can you get someone else to sign them (Id be tempted to ask your boss “can i just have a quick signature here please”. Unethical, but if he’s happy for you to carry the can, give it back). My boss is a hybrid of your boss and colleague in 1 but thankfully we can push back (it’s a struggle but he will eventually back down). I’ve put up with it until now as, like you, I have great benefits and love the job. But on reflection I can’t believe how much the toxicity and dysfunction has affected my mental health or that I’ve allowed myself to unconsciously suffer. I’m job hunting, and unless these issues can be worked around if not resolved, I’d recommend leaving.

    1. Francie Foxglove*

      What also bugs is the boss dismissing the issue as a “personality conflict” when it’s not. If OP is a woman, Boss probably sees it the way he sees any friction between two women: as a catfight.

      1. John Smith*

        There’s no indication here that this is to do with the sex of either party. I’ve seen too many bosses dismiss workplace issues as personality conflicts regardless of the sexes of the parties involved. Its simply an abrogation of managerial duty.

      2. Rebecca*

        YEP. I ran a yearly event when I was in school – a quite famous feminist play that had a central organization that manged the rights to the play and the strict rules about soliciting donations and what to do with the proceeds.

        We had to turn to the central organization for support when our acountant in our school’s organization disappeared with 14 thousand bucks. When she returned, she disputed being asked to step down or to hand over the access to the bank accoung, and the central organziation’s stance was ‘As women, we need to support each other. Asking her to step down is against the sisterhood and unfeminist.’


    2. JustKnope*

      Having the boss sign things is not an answer to the legal issues here. OP would still be knowingly preparing incorrect documents and as the accounting person would still be on the hook for them. Any time you’re thinking about how to get someone else to sign something you know is wrong / illegal, you are in way too deep.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, I would not ask them to sign, but I would say “This is not legal. I’m not signing off on it. It needs to be fixed.” I would not say “You sign it.”, because that would be asking someone else to sign off on something illegal, which is unethical too.

  19. CityMouse*

    For #5, specifically, are their tasks staff would go to Greg for before that are no longer his duties? I think one of the things you could do for Greg is set the boundary “He everyone, I know Gteg use to replace the Llama brushes when he was an intern, but now he’s become a full time Llama groomer, please direct that to Megan instead”. and give him some guidance on those differences and that it’s okay say no to those tasks as an employee. I think that’s one potential minefield that the may get still treated as an intern.

    1. Victoria Everglot*

      Oh, I think this is fantastic advice! We’ve had letters from people before that were treated like interns for various reasons who were not interns, and I think part of the transition process should be both preparing Greg for that and preparing everyone else, too.

    2. Be Gneiss*

      I think having someone who is familiar with the organization but who might still have knowledge gaps go through orientation is also a fantastic opportunity to get feedback on your onboarding. New employees get so. much. information. crammed into a short amount of time. It’s very hard to know what you’ve missed and what wasn’t clear, and where the information presented in onboarding doesn’t match up with the way things actually happen, and what key takeaways are getting buried in the deluge of introductions/tours/procedures/forms.

  20. NZDoc*

    #5, please do onboard Greg fully! I had an awkward situation where I was first a student placed at my current clinic, then an intern a couple years later (as a junior doctor), then left for a year and came back as a full time doctor around a year ago. It’s a fantastic clinic – as you can tell by the way I came back – but I got a grand total of 2 hours of orientation when I joined officially because people assumed I knew things already, and it took 6-8 months to fill in the random holes in my knowledge that not even I knew were gaps (admin things, not clinical things, for the record). Love my workplace/people a lot! Just wish I’d had a real orientation.

    1. NZDoc*

      But probably acknowledge it – “hey I’m going to run through the full orientation, feel free to tell me to fast forward things you already know, but I want to make sure I don’t miss anything” or something

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – give the former inter turned full employee a full onboarding. He may need some of that information now that he didn’t when he was an intern (so didn’t pay full attention to as an intern). This way you’ll also pick up anything that has changed along the way.

      But yeah – he may onboard faster than a true New Employee.

    3. whatsupdoc*

      Seconding this very strongly! When I was in my last job (I’m in higher ed), I had previously been working as a grad assistant in one of their offices for 3 years, and I knew everyone on my new team–so there was definitely an assumption that I knew how things worked and didn’t need a real onboarding (I did the official employee one sponsored by the university, which actually DID feel sort of pointless because it was mostly an orientation to the campus, but they did make sure I got all my paperwork right!). Everyone was super willing to help and explain things along the way, but a lot of it could have been avoided if they’d done a full onboarding even with some redundancies.

    4. Baby Yoda*

      I agree LW 5, please onboard Greg fully! I made the transition from student position to staff in the same academic unit 7 years ago, and was not ever fully onboarded. We are STILL finding gaps in my admin knowledge, especially now that I am a manager with staff of my own to onboard.

      If you can’t tell, the situation is currently causing me a large amount of stress and unnecessary anxiety. Ugh.

    5. Chirpy*

      This. I transferred locations with the same company, and while my job itself was the same, the new location does some things very differently. I barely even got a partial tour of the building. It took a while to figure out super basic things, and I’d been doing the same job elsewhere for five years.

    6. Ama*

      Yeah I actually came here to comment that my direct report transitioned to full time permanent employee after being a temp for about six months (which is extremely rare at my employer, we don’t usually hire long-term temps but my department was desperately understaffed and needed help immediately). And when she transitioned to full time because she’d already been on staff six months a lot of our usual processes were just not followed. IT didn’t update her access to what she should have as a permanent employee so we kept finding piecemeal folders or programs that she didn’t have access to, HR forgot to start her 90 day review clock so she never got a 90 day review, we did get orientation meetings for her with other departments which is standard here (but I suspect only because I hired a brand new employee right around the same time so I just asked if they could attend together).

      It was like because she had already done the first couple steps of the “onboarding new employee” checklist months ago they couldn’t figure out to start at step three and go from there. It was really frustrating for both of us and made her first few months as a permanent employee more chaotic than they should have been.

  21. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Letter 1 – I’ve said it a few places but my only advice is to:

    Job hunt super aggressively in that flexible schedule.

    CYA everything in writing with a potential legal consequence.

    And RUN FAR AWAY as soon as possible.

    Hoping to hear back at the next update season that you are in a different job that doesn’t try to require you to break Federal Laws for them.

  22. Jade*

    I vote find a new job, especially because you will be supporting your family. Current dysfunctional job will realize you are only working fifteen hours a week and CEO already thinks (wrongly) your work is sub par. Get out.

  23. Knitting Cat Lady*


    I work in a highly regulated industry. I’ve been asked to massage calculations until the right result appears twice. Both times by project managers. They did it by email.
    Forwarded those to my boss, from where it filtered up to the c-suit and resulted in the sacking of the PMs.
    We also have a black list of PMs who we only communicate very carefully with…

  24. NforKnowledge*

    LW1 you sort of answer your own question in the finak sentence: career progression is more important to you than the flexibility this job offers! And that’s before all the sketchy stuff that, on its own, should probably have you aggressively job searching.

    1. Lily Potter*

      The legal considerations alone should have LW#1 job hunting. However, let’s pretend that the whole “CEO wants me doing illegal things” part didn’t exist. I would be asking LW#1 how old they are and how much longer they intend to stay in the work force. In my situation, I intend to retire early and don’t give a rat’s patootey about career or skill advancement. LW#1’s job sounds like heaven on earth to me. I could even learn to adapt to birdbrain Marissa. However, LW#1 is in a very different place in her life – she’s in her childbearing years with many years of working ahead of her as a main family breadwinner. She needs to be working somewhere with a career path future, not an organization that could get shut down tomorrow by the IRS. Yes, the flexibility is nice for now but if your husband is going to be a stay at home parent, you need stability far more than flexibility.

  25. WS*

    #4 – don’t put it in your resume, but if you are interviewing in a relevant field, it may come up in the interview. I work in healthcare and while the self-advocacy and research I had to do for myself with a rare cancer was not directly relevant to my role, it did show an understanding of the field and an ability to navigate that system. It came up naturally in the interview and one of the interviewers later told me that she was impressed by my confidence in my ability to research and access healthcare resources, both online and off. If I’d put it on the resume, I don’t think it would have come across that way.

  26. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 Make copies of every document you send that could cause legal problems if your terrible boss alters them ….. while you job search very hard indeed.
    You have the luxury of spare time both for copies and an extensive job hunt.

    NO pay or benefits are good enough to compensate for potentially ending up with a criminal conviction / losing your licence / being fined/ jail.

    Even take an “interim” job at lower pay if you can afford to do so, while you search for a more suitable longterm one.
    Having 2 shortstay jobs would be a less bad option than staying – and imo, you could briefly explain in interviews about your legal concerns for job1.

    #3 Despite the daft reason given by OP1, employers should never make it compulsory for people to state their own pronouns as obviously it can be such a personal & sensitive matter for those struggling.
    Instead, make it clear that pronouns are welcome if employees wish to state them and also that once pronouns are provided by someone, they should always be used (until that person changes them)

    Time zones however can be very useful and won’t stir up any anxiety (unless someone is secretly remoting in from another country, when they’d presumably lie)

    #5 No harm done in repeating some information Greg already knows, whereas accidentally omitting something mentioned only in standard onboarding could cause him problems later.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      #2 is why so many employers have standardised signature and document templates.
      Even one employee with a weird/repulsive signature can damage an employer’s reputation, especially if it ever goes viral.

  27. Charley*

    #5 – Anyone else see how Greg has started at the bottom but is going to rapidly weasel his way up the ranks to be a potential candidate for CEO, or is it just my Succession-obsessed mind?!

  28. sookie st james*

    LW1 – others have touched on all the ‘cover your ass’ stuff but I just want to touch on the ‘do the benefits outweigh the bad’ part.

    I’ve been in similar situations – not enjoying the work, hating the way the company was run, but the flexibility and/or money made me feel afraid of leaving, like I’d be making a huge mistake because I’d never have it so good ever again. But eventually, I reached my breaking point, realising that being anxious and miserable everyday was just not a reasonable price to pay for working ~4 days a week, WFH, and/or flex vacation time (although I’m not in the US so I imagine great vacation time weighs a bit more for you guys – going from up to 8 weeks to 2 weeks would definitely be a bigger deal to me than going from ‘flex’ to ‘4-5 weeks’!)

    All of this to say, I think there’s a lot of weird shame feelings tied up in jobs that have nothing to do with the work itself and everything to do with the idea of what ‘should’ make us happy. It’s easy to be stuck in a crap job and think ‘if I could just take off 6 weeks over the summer, my life would be 10x better, this job would be bearable’. Or that you’d put up with anything for a certain salary. But then you’re stuck, unhappy, in the middle of October, January, April, whatever, and you quickly realise that 6 weeks of happiness at the expense of daily misery/monotony/anxiety for the rest of the year doesn’t add up to a happy life.

    And in your case, the work itself is very much a problem here if, as you say, you’re losing skills you value a lot.

    So I’d recommend leaving. It’s not worth it – and you don’t have to feel guilty for turning your back on benefits that come with an orchestra’s worth of strings attached. Other good jobs exist.

  29. I Like Turtles*

    I’m agenderish and I completely sympathize with LW3. Pronouns in the profile works fine for me (I have no strong preference and say so) but having to put them in the name field makes them seem more important to me than they actually are, and is a constant reminder of my own gender that’s actually kind of uncomfortable, and the feeling of not being able to express why it feels wrong in a way that doesn’t sound kinda petty & silly is very familiar.

    1. Timothy (TRiG)*

      Yes, I’m pretty happily a cis guy, and have no trouble telling someone that my pronouns are he/him/his if they want to know, but putting that info somewhere so prominent just feels wrong to me. I get being fussy about names, too.

    2. Arvicola amphibius*

      I also have some weird feelings about my own gender and don’t want to be reminded about it. And this is 100% not a conversation I would want to have with my coworkers.

    3. *kalypso*

      I’m genderfluid and generally don’t want gender to be a thing around me, but I suck up putting my pronouns there because people getting them wrong feels worse.

      It’s a huge spectrum which is why it needs to be optional, but this excuse isn’t one that makes sense in context.

      1. I Like Turtles*

        I don’t think the excuse makes much sense as literally given, which is why it read to me as someone fumbling around for an explanation because “seeing my pronoun next to my name all the time is giving me Gender Feelings” is hard to articulate, because I’ve been there.

    4. Elsajeni*

      Yeah, I think it’s difficult to explain and my advice to the OP would be to not get into the reasons — hopefully people will not actually press you on this, but if they do, you can just “prefer not to,” or sort of vaguely “misunderstand” and be like “oh, sure I did! see, it’s right here, in my profile!”, or… whatever. But I, too, would not want my pronouns appearing next to every message I write and every time someone else @’s me! It would feel like having a conversation where, every time someone refers to you, they say “John (WHO IS A MAN BY THE WAY)” — like, I am comfortable about my gender and I don’t mind telling people what pronouns to use for me when it comes up, but it is not the most interesting or important thing about me and it feels weird to make it a part of every reference to me.

  30. CL*

    #4- You’ve actually touched on a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately…the intersection of employment and caregiving. I agree with Alison that you shouldn’t put it directly on your resume but think of ways that you’ve built skills that transferred to your work…Are you better at communicating your point in your current job because you’ve had to lobby with doctors and social workers to get what your spouse needs? Have you done volunteer event planning for a group related to your spouse’s disability? Did you improve your Excel skills tracking insurance reimbursements/claims and that got used in your last job? Whether these are skills you list, volunteer activities you include, or examples that come up in an interview, I would caution against sharing too much with a potential employer. Discrimination is a concern.

  31. LifeBeforeCorona*

    As an accountant, you’re held to a higher standard when you sign financial statements. A spouse can argue that they didn’t read their joint return and just signed what was presented to them. However, training and certifications means your signature has significant power. Resign but with a letter written by your lawyer stating that you were asked to break IRS rules and refused in case of audits down the line.

  32. Elizabeth West*

    #1–Bees, lots of dangerous bees.

    #2–There are other quotes from The Mandalorian that would be more appropriate: “This is the way,” “I have spoken,” etc. I have a pic of Din Djarin and Din Grogu on my desktop; they’re walking together and the baby is looking up at his dad. <3 Pick something like that, dude.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      (Do Mandalorians do family-name-first naming? I don’t think I knew that.)

      1. Fives*

        Apparently so. It happened in one of the episodes this last season. I think most people were caught off guard.

        1. PABJ*

          It seems to be a mix of cultures in that regard. Most previous identified Mandalorians have been FN LN order. This is actually the first time one has been shown to be the opposite, to my knowledge.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            oo, I haven’t watched season 3 yet, but yeah, I thought the others had been the other way around. Thanks!

      2. Chirpy*

        Din Djarin/ Din Grogu seems to be the outlier, pretty much every other Mandalorian has family/clan names last (Bo-Katan Kryze, Satine Kryze and Korky Kryze, Boba Fett and Jango Fett, etc.)

          1. Katara's side braids*

            I think it was spelled Korkie in the subtitles, but yes. There’s also a possibility that he’s Obi Wan’s son.

            1. Chirpy*

              It’s a popular fan theory (they do look somewhat alike) but the timing/ages don’t really work well, if I remember correctly.

          2. Nina*

            You have like, seen literally any Star Wars, yes? The names are weird, it’s fine.

      3. Nina*

        Depends whether you’re talking old or new canon (grumpy mid-2000s fanficcer here, upset that all the rules have changed and several million words of perfectly good story are now relegated to ‘old canon compatible’ instead of just ‘canon compatible’)

    2. Polaris*

      “I have spoken” is an accepted “meeting over” in my department.

      Yes, we are a bunch of Star Wars universe fans. And I’m not even sure that signature would have flown internally in my very much SW loving department. Probably would have been a “remove it. This is the way. I have spoken.” from our department head, honestly.

  33. Just Me*

    Yes, please, on the training as if the person were new front. As someone who has had that not happen in similar transitions, I can assure you that as long as you are doing it in a kind way (not talking down to them, and hopefully using some teach back to see what you need to spend the most time on) I’d much rather be over-trained than under-trained. Think similarly about granting physical/online accesses – at one job I started as a full-time volunteer and when I transitioned to part-time staff I was never added to the all-staff tag in the email system. It was multiple years later when I was a couple months from my last day that I learned it wasn’t that most of the social events were super exclusive and didn’t include me, but that people didn’t realize I wasn’t on their email chain…made me wonder how many work-related announcements I also missed…

  34. HonorBox*

    OP1- I was absolutely going to land on the side of “stick around for the pay, flexibility and autonomy even though you feel like you’re being underused” until I got to the part about your CEO asking you to do something illegal then sending you home when you won’t. You’ve got to get out. I hate saying that, but you can’t put yourself at risk. I hope like hell you’re not making the changes that make things illegal. I wouldn’t, and I would suggest that you nod along when the CEO suggests ridiculous changes and submit what you know needs to be submitted. But then get out.

    Not sure how all of this works, but if you’re worried about someone making those changes and your name still appearing there, can you document what you’ve done, what you’re being asked to do and why you’re unwilling so you have some sort of paper trail should an audit be triggered at some point?

    1. JustaTech*

      I will add myself to the chorus of “get out”, and I’ll also say that I have given the same advice to a friend who was in a similar situation. In his case he wasn’t personally being asked to do the illegal/unethical thing, but the company was small enough that if he was there when they got caught he would have been caught in the blowback and at the very least would have been questioned by the Feds and/or deposed.
      (This company is so notorious in our region/industry for being on the wrong side of several federal agencies that the only people who work there are either outsiders who don’t know any better or people who are completely desperate. It’s the kind of place that when people see it on your resume they say “oh I’m so sorry”.)

      OP1 says they’re trying to start a family – being caught in the middle of an investigation is unlikely to help that, even if they’re cleared of any wrongdoing.

  35. Brendan*

    RE #1 – Being paid a full salary for 15 hours a week and asked to sign/do sketchy things? I couldn’t help but think of Barney Stinson from the show How I Met Your Mother. Late in the series, we learn that his high-paid job is to be the person who signs documents, so that he can be the fall guy if the Feds ever come knocking. Your workplace doesn’t sound _quite_ that malicious, but closer than I’d feel comfortable, myself.

    1. Bess*

      Yeah like people don’t have to be conspiring for this to effectively be the case, right? LW is the one with the knowledge, certifications, and liability. The CEO is the one who, as presented, doesn’t know beans about the work or the discipline, but is highly egocentric and won’t listen to answers he doesn’t like–perfect mixture for crime or fraud to happen without anyone even maliciously intending it.

  36. High Score!*

    I bet pronoun dude is an engineer of some sort. I would also have an issue putting pronouns and timezones in my name field. I would put them in the pronoun and timezones fields provided. It’s a small thing but would be grating every time I looked at it.

      1. CityMouse*

        Yeah my spouse is an engineer and his colleagues who are engineers come over socially all the time. The trope of “engineers are socially awkward” has never been my personal experience (I’ve run into just as many socially awkward lawyers).

        1. Arvicola amphibius*

          I don’t think this is really a socially awkward thing, just an extremely literal thing. Like, the name field is for the name.

          1. CityMouse*

            Yes but that’s a variation on this silly Big Bang Theory esque trope that’s just wrong (I have a STEM degree and had someone do that to me as well). STEM =/= being on the spectrum or not understanding social conventions.

            1. Arvicola amphibius*

              As an overly literal engineer, it’s obviously not universal among engineers, but I don’t think it’s wrong, either…. both that engineers are more likely to actually be on the spectrum (like, multiple of my coworkers), but also that those of us who aren’t are still more likely to be extremely literal — like, “no, that word has a meaning.”

              1. Expiring Cat Memes*

                And yet, many overly literal people, whether ‘on the spectrum’ or not, can still understand the logical hierarchy of prioritising safe, inclusive workspaces over the correct mapping of data to fields.

                1. Arvicola amphibius*

                  It doesn’t make it more safe or inclusive for me, as both an overly literal person and someone with some weird gender stuff (and probably those are related).

                2. Angstrom*

                  Requiring people to list pronouns, by itself, does nothing to make a workplace safe. I would feel *excluded* by a workplace that forced me to list my pronouns.

                3. Expiring Cat Memes*

                  I’m not saying anyone should be forced to out themselves in their signature (or anywhere else for that matter). Of course not!

                  My point is if you’re otherwise comfortable with including your pronouns, refusing to put them on a *particular line in your signature* purely because you find data entry in the perceived incorrect field “grating” – that’s a … peculiar position to take, and not one that should be assumed of an entire profession or used to weaponise ND folks against gender diverse folks.

                4. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

                  MHO, safe inclusive workplaces enable correct mapping of data to fields, and places that “encourage” mislabeling, especially in a standardized way, aren’t inclusive or safe.
                  Not for marginalized minorities who don’t fit the standard, and not for business practices that require standardization be balanced with specificity.

                  Correct mapping of data to fields is crucially important for safety in hazardous chemical storage– all the water-reactive chemicals should be stored in the cabinet labeled for Water-Reactive chemical storage, and that cabinet should not contain other chemicals in aqueous solution! A company running a chemistry lab might legitimately require all the safety storage cabinets to be labeled on the outside with a semi-permanent list of the chemicals they expect to be stored in that cabinet (analogous to giving pronouns and time zone in name field), so they don’t have to open the door and rummage around to confirm what’s inside (analogous to having pronouns, timezone, other pertinent details in a profile one has to click though to read).
                  But, some chemicals occupy more than one hazard class–for instance, organic acids can be both corrosive and combustible. If a new shipment just arrived and the corrosives cabinet is overstocked, it might be safer to move some organic acids temporarily to the combustible items cabinet than to cram them in with the inorganics. Or move some very weak organic acids to general organic storage. If users expect to be able to rely on the standard surface information and are out of the habit of opening the door to rummage around for what they need, the “safe” and “inclusive” outer cabinet labels become confusing and potentially unsafe.

                  Correct mapping of data to fields is important for safety and inclusivity when standardized medical records are shared between care providers. A widely used format includes a slot to list patient allergies but no slot for non-allergic serious contraindications. If Medical Provider X uses the “allergies” slot to list all contraindications as their standard (the way LW3’s company wants to use the Slack Name field for name plus other pertinent info) receives records from Medical Provider Y that used it only for allergens, then when they consult the patient’s records to choose between 2 treatments, might avoid the one the patient was listed as allergic to, even if it’s only a mild allergy, and give instead one that the patient is not allergic but very severely sensitive to — never thinking to ask about non-allergic sensitivities or other contraindications. Variations on this happened to multiple people of my acquaintance, in very different locations (NE USA, SE USA, Canada, Europe). It took one acquaintance who was herself a care provider to realize how this system which was meant to be safe and inclusive was failing.

                5. Observer*

                  And yet, many overly literal people, whether ‘on the spectrum’ or not, can still understand the logical hierarchy of prioritising safe, inclusive workspaces over the correct mapping of data to fields.

                  That assumes that everyone agrees that this particular action actually does create a more safe and inclusive workspace. For a lot of people it doesn’t add anything. And for a lot of people it’s an active problem.

                6. Observer*

                  @HigherEdCubeFarmer All of what you say is true. But not relevant.

                  You’re doing data interchange? The you absolutely need to stick to a standard that’s shared with the other entities you’re working with.

                  You’re handling safety related stuff? You absolutely need to have standard and highly precise labeling.


                  But there is a time and a place for everything. The break-room refrigerator and cabinets don’t need the same rigor for labeling as the ones in the lab that hold all sorts of dangerous chemicals. My notes to my coworkers can have allusions that would never fly in an email going to anyone outside of the company. etc.

                  It reminds me of the letter from someone whose company required that kind of precision of language for the most mundane tasks, and had one person who refused to waste the time and energy to comply.

              2. CityMouse*

                Honestly, no it’s part of why women get bullied out of STEM. Because “engineers don’t undertake social convention” is both weaponized to justify having to put up with unacceptable behavior “He’s just socially awkward” and getting bullied by those assuming you’re awkward if you like STEM (getting called Sheldon or Dr. Bones because you were a math minor).

                It’s not okay and needs to stop.

                1. ScruffyInternHerder*

                  Its the excuse given to us constantly about that certain department. No, they’re not “just socially awkward because they’re engineers”. There are a number of them with serious issues with women over there, and they use “we’re socially awkward” as a cover.

              3. Worldwalker*

                Because when you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, (at least!) needing to be precise about things — when one of your essential job skills is precision — you’re either someone who is precise and detail-oriented to begin with and that’s why you gravitated to that field, or you learn to be because that’s essential to your job. Expecting an engineer not to be precise and literal about something requires them to make a special exception to their entire way of thinking (especially at work) for just this one thing. People don’t do that well.

            2. Pescadero*

              As someone with an Engineering degree, almost 30 years working in the industry, and currently works in a major research university engineering department…

              STEM does equal more likely to not understand social conventions.

              1. Quill*

                My jobs that have been more research focused have been MORE likely to be explicitly inclusive, and be full of people who have thought about social conventions and their effects.

        2. Temperance*

          Speaking as a lawyer, we’re worse than engineers as a group.

          That said, most engineers that I know (I’m married to one) aren’t transphobic or douchebags about this stuff. If someone introduces themself with a fem-coded name and pronouns but they appear masculine, that person will be address as “she” and using her name, even if she has a full beard or whatever.

          1. CityMouse*

            I’d also add that the stereotype that “on the spectrum” = rude or mean is also wrong and actively harmful.

  37. Zarniwoop*

    I’m going to be charitable and assume the coworker isn’t at all violent, just a big ol’ nerd.

    There’s still the problem of what people who aren’t into pop culture and aren’t aware there’s a TV show called “The Mandalorian” are going to think.

    The signature needs to change and your company needs an email signature policy.

    1. Observer*

      There is still that problem. Absolutely.

      But there is also the problem that he chose THIS particular quote, rather than apparently dozens of other quotes he could have chosen. So this not just about being a “big ol’ nerd”

      1. Worldwalker*

        I have a pin on my hat that says “speak softly and carry Vera.” Those who know what it means, know what it means.

        1. Kara*

          That’s also a lot more subtle; a lot less generally threatening. They’ve have to know about Firefly, and be familiar enough with it to realize what Vera refers to (so, a Browncoat). The average person is probably going to think purses.

  38. Melissa*

    #4– Unless your work is in an adjacent field! (I assume it’s not, but still). I’m a nurse and I have encountered many Nursing Aides who say “I got experience caring for my parent/grandparent/etc” and it goes a huge way to letting me know they understand what the type of work is, and how challenging it is

  39. Paul Pearson*

    I’m kind of bemused that anyone would think any kind of television quote, no matter how innocuous, belongs o

    #3 You will very likely be seen as transphobic because your reasoning is… questionable. No-one is going to think your name is Mr. He/Him. It reeks just a little of “I’m not transphobic, I respect his mother!” excuse

    1. Paul Pearson*

      I’m also really super uncomfortable with the idea of taking something that, by any application of Occam’s razor, looks pretty transphobic and presuming positive motives for it. There’s a lot of “I’m not racist/transphobic/homophobic…. BUT…” out there and a lot of “I’m doing this super prejudiced thing for very unprejudiced reasons, honest” that is really really damaging to marginalised people

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I would agree with you if this by Occam’s razor looked pretty transphobic. The part where they have specified their pronouns (and timezone) in the built-in slack fields for doing so, to me, rules that out entirely.
        It does not at all feel like a stretch to me to interpret OP’s letter as “they want me to use slack wrong”. Their angle on it will probably not be effective, but it’s pretty clearly as much about the timezone as it is the pronouns, in that it’s not really about the pronouns at all. If it were, they’d object to using the designated pronoun field too, and they don’t.

      2. Worldwalker*

        Not wanting to put your own pronouns in your Slack name is not “super prejudiced” by any stretch of the imagination.

        1. Dahlia*

          That isn’t what they said.

          They said that implying that people are going to think his name is “Joe He Him Doe” is a dogwhistle. Because no one is going to think that.

        2. Gritter*

          It worries me that we are getting to the point where not signalling some sort of ‘ally’ status at every conceivable opportunity leads to accusations of bigotry.

          1. Delphine*

            Agreed. “I’ll respect your pronouns but don’t wish to identify my own,” is a reasonable stance for a person to take about their own pronouns. We don’t need to ferret out their intentions before we decide if they’re “allowed” to feel some particular way about being asked to do something. The point of combating bigotry is not to force people to change how they refer to themselves or speak about themselves but how they treat other people.

  40. Database Developer Dude*

    I’m not going to namecall #3, but I will point out that his letter makes it seem like he thinks the rest of us are stupid. Of course no one is going to think his actual name contains his pronouns and time zone.

    Having said that, you can put your pronouns and your time zone in your Slack profile. This is another case of not using a piece of software the way it was designed. Whoever’s trying to mandate this has the same mindset of those who put the entire email in a subject line. That too is wrong.

    1. Llama Identity Thief*

      I want to push back on this just because I don’t think LW #3 is concerned about OTHER PEOPLE thinking his name contains the pronouns and time zone – there’s nothing about how other people read it in his part of the letter. I think he viscerally hates how it reads TO HIMSELF – that including something on the same tier as his name is an internal attack on his name, and the core role it serves in his identity.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Question: could someone from outside the company Slack (client, vendor) still easily see your pronouns or timezone? And does that functionality integrate with other platforms?

      Curious, as AFAIK Slack never took off in Australia. My partner deals with lots of international contacts from all over the world who all tend to use different platforms – email is the only constant. So in that context I can understand the reasoning for including it in email as well.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        But you include the pronouns in a separate line in the email signature. Your signature reads

        John Doe
        Acting Advanced Llama Groomer
        Progressive Company, Inc.

  41. CityMouse*

    I’ve been in the receiving end of a variation of #4, where we got a cover letter where the guy focused on navigating the legal system during his divorce. It was not helpful (if you squinted and looked at it sideways you could kind of see why he thought it was relevant). It was also SUPER clear the guy was carrying a lot of anger about his divorce and the whole thing was just a bad idea.

    If you can directly translate the skills into Jon performance AND you can make sure it’s not going to be something you express anger or frustration about in an interview, big old cautionary Maybe. But save it for an interview and don’t spend a lot of time on it.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      The outright funniest cover letter I’ve ever seen (and its been a few decades here, but some of the funnier details still stuck out) went into great detail about navigating the workman’s compensation area of law, and why she was looking for a desk job, as her previous employer was contesting a workman’s comp claim, and then great detail was provided as to what physical accommodations would be needed in order to do even a desk based office job as she was being required to prove that her disability diagnosis due to an accident at the previous employer was in fact true and total. But not to worry, she’d be a fantastic employee.

      Added amusement – we weren’t even hiring. It was tucked under the front office door when the first person arrived in the morning. Apparently she’d blanketed the industrial park with her cover letter and resume.

  42. Boss Scaggs*

    i don’t think anyone should be forced to include their pronouns, but I agree that the reasoning of being mistaken as part of your name won’t come off well. Same with the time zone part, unless LW is concerned that the letters look like some sort of degree or certification (or that they’re an adherent of the 70s EST movement)

  43. Polar Vortex*


    I don’t know if you’ll make it down this far but I have a few points I want to share with you, to just hopefully spark thought:
    – The spot in Slack is nice, but it’s not easily accessible to know pronouns like that in group chats or chatrooms. That can then cause misgendering in Slack, which is why I think your company is suggesting adding to the name field so it is visible. I have trans coworkers who have done that for this reason because their name sometimes has gendered assumptions.

    – I am trans, I have my pronouns in slack in the given spot but not in my name. In zoom I optionally share them. Why? I work with many people across the world and travel to those places for work and although I trust those people, /I need to prioritize my safety when I am in their country/. That is a very valid reason to not share my pronouns in my name and why I would push back if my company implemented this.

    – But ultimately I want you to think about the experience of being trans/NB at a workplace. Trans people are being killed and violently attacked daily. Fired from our jobs. Our rights are constantly being revoked across the US and the world. We have had atrocities done to us just because we do not identify with the gendered assumed at birth. This means we worry every day about safety. We worry who we can be out to and who we can’t be. Many of us are living lies about ourselves at work for this very reason. A workplace that wholeheartedly puts their support into providing naming conventions (not required but highly encouraged) tells us we are safe here. I have seen countless people quietly come out as non-binary or trans at my work and mention later that they have never been out at other jobs. Moreover, that acceptance starts at the top and cascades down. If Execs, VPs and Directors, Managers at all levels share their pronouns, the general population knows a) bigotry has no place here and b) this place /These People/ are safe.

    If you could make one person you know feel safer every day, would that be worth the price of having (he/him) in your name?

    1. Polar Vortex*

      *By “Implemented this” I mean required it. It’s very optional to put pronouns in any system wherever you want at my work and encouraged to do so if you feel comfortable.

    2. An office plant*

      And to more jaded people, it shows that you have a lot of coworkers who care about appearing inclusive, but tells you exactly nothing about whether or not they’re actually inclusive.

      1. Polar Vortex*

        While I don’t actually disagree here – PRIDE is all about companies pretending to care when they don’t – it’s harder to be the ahole who refuses to use correct pronouns when everyone has pronouns shared.

        1. An office plant*

          It’s also harder to figure out your identity if you’re forced to label yourself before you’ve figured this out or before you’re ready to come out.

    3. BellyButton*

      *hugs* I am fighting and voting for your protection and human rights *hugs* you aren’t alone.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      Thank you. I was honestly wondering if the reason the company wanted them in the name slot was to make them more visible, so people wouldn’t have to look up your profile. (Or make them more visible for people who can’t be bothered to look at your profile.)

    5. Worldwalker*

      Thing is … I don’t want to list my pronouns. I’m perfectly happy with someone using whatever one they think is appropriate for me; as long as everyone knows they mean me, I’m good. I would be highly uncomfortable with being forced to declare what gender group I (purportedly) belong to as the first, and possibly only, thing that people know about me. I’ve dealt with a lifetime of bias in person. The online world has been my refuge, where I can be *who* I am, not just *what* I am, and when it comes to giving that up, that is definitely a hill I will die on.

      I don’t care what anyone does, or doesn’t do. I don’t care what they want to be called. You do you. But let me do me.

      1. Polar Vortex*

        Like I said, I don’t think anyone should be forced to. But there are reasons why I would encourage it if it’s not world ending for you. And why I would ask people to consider how world ending it would be for them, why it feels that way, and what they can do to support their fellow beings if this is one thing they cannot do.

  44. Not A Manager*

    LW1, if you want to stay at the job for all of the reasons you listed, here are some thoughts:

    1) w/r/t Marissa – It doesn’t sound like any mistakes are going out under your name, just that you have to spend time re-doing work you’ve already done. If you’re only working 15 hours a week anyway, can you reframe the time you spend correcting her meddling as just part of your work week?

    2) w/r/t your CEO – The place sounds very chaotic, and he’s already said that he doesn’t know what you do anyway. He won’t make changes in order to streamline his employees, and he won’t interfere in simple managerial issues. I doubt he’ll instantly fire you if you take a firm stand.

    My advice is to add one more exchange to your pushback. Don’t just tell him his changes to the financials aren’t allowed and then get sent home. When he makes a stupid request, tell him you “believe” that’s not allowed under the regs, but you’ll double check. Then send him a brief memo outlining his proposed changes, exactly which regs they contravene, and a citation to the reg that supports your characterization of that financial. Be sure that your tone in person and in writing is one of open inquiry. I suspect that the “insubordinate” response from him is because he feels that you are vetoing him. Position this more so you and he are collaborating to explore an intriguing financial position that, sadly, is ultimately disallowed by that evil IRS.

    Basically, if you can pull the “wants me to do something illegal” part of this out of the calculation, then you can decide if putting up with the rest is worth it.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Actually, occasionally you could mix it up by not telling him you “believe” it’s not allowed. Tell him he’s brilliant! Tell him that’s very intriguing and you’ll look into it. Then come back with new information that it simply can’t be done, what a shame.

      1. Kara*

        And then make very very sure that you have copies of everything that you sign off on, because if Marissa is already ‘fixing’ your work, it’s not that much of a stretch to think that she might also ‘fix’ your work the way the boss wanted it originally.

    2. JustaTech*

      Tangentially, but as someone who’s job is often to say “no, we’ve tried that, it doesn’t work” and then gets called negative, this stuff is exhausting.

      If something violates a law (human law or physical law), there is simply a limit to how “openminded” and “inquiring” I can sound the 87th time someone suggests it.
      But you have to keep doing it or you’re “insubordinate” or “not a team player” or “too negative”. Which also means you can’t use a quippy response like “How good do you look in orange?”.

  45. Workfromhome*

    #1 Get your resume out NOW!
    While 15 hours work for 40 hours pay is a great gig its also a very easy target for downsizing at the drop of a hat.
    Managment is obviously “volatile” and if they ever decide to get angry and irrational its pretty easy for them to say “heck jane only does 15 hours of work a week and we are overstaffed get rid of her”
    If someone with a clue ever does come into the organization or they hire an efficiency consultant your job is low hanging fruit to cut and save costs.

    Your job sounds too good to be true (outside of the drama and legal issues) because it is. 15 hours work with total flexibility for full time pay wont last forever.
    At the very least you need to constantly keep irons in the fire for the inevitable day the gravy train ends or they try to put you in a legally compromising situation so you dont end up having to start a job search from scratch.
    Start looking today.

  46. MsHandle*

    LW4 – Was any of your advocacy etc. done as part of an official organization? Maybe you were the secretary of your local Association of ZXY, or you volunteered at fundraising events”. Those types of things could be included in the “Other activities” on your resume. I have family members who have managed care for a spouse. In addition to being the liaison with health care, it also included hiring home care, payroll, reporting to govt. It was like running a small business. I’m sure you have developed many skills and would like to have that recognized. Could you find someone from that unpaid work to act as a reference? (For specific skills that relate to the job you’re seeking) Maybe the chair of Association of XYZ could speak to your presentation or research skills. Or the home coordinator knows of your flawless scheduling and bookkeeping? Not sure what Allison thinks about that, but depending on what else is on your resume it might be useful.

  47. 123*

    LW3: I get it. Idc what anyone else does but personally I hate when I’m required to list my pronouns anywhere. It’s not about bigotry it’s literally that I do not want to or feel it’s necessary for myself. Would I do it if a company made me? Yes so I didn’t get fired. I feel like part of my pushback to it is this idea that if you don’t feel comfortable or have no desire to put pronouns you’re suddenly a transphobic bigot. If I respect the way other people choose to identify themselves then why isn’t that respect given back to me. Idk I’m not a super fan of the tone of the advice this time but given our current social climate I don’t think Allison could have said anything else. I will agree though I think if he already has his pronouns on his profile that’s not a huge jump.

    1. Temperance*

      The argument that you’re using is the exact same argument that some school districts are using to *ban* pride flags and sharing pronouns at all. Because some people might assume that they’re transphobic or homophobic for not doing those things.

      There are lots of reasons why some people don’t feel comfortable sharing pronouns. My first name is obviously coded female and I use she/her pronouns, and it takes nothing away from me to put my pronouns out there when people meet me so they know that I will listen to theirs, if they want to share, and will respect them.

      Maybe think about why you’re uncomfortable with this if you’re cis and a dude.

  48. CityMouse*

    I think the key to LW3 is framing. Having a quiet word with “I’m not comfortable sharing my pronouns because of privacy” is different from “But that’s not my name”. The second just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (of course no one will think it’s your name). So if you’re going to raise an objection how you do it and frame it really matters or you will make people suspicious you’re carrying some prejudices around.

  49. kiki*

    “For example, he constantly wants me to change our financial statements in ways that are not legal. When I tell him the changes are not permitted under IRS rules, he calls me insubordinate and sends me home. My name is signed on those financial statements, and if we’re ever audited, I’d be the one at risk. ”

    This was the big thing for me, LW1. I’d also worry about them setting you up to take the fall for things you’re not even aware of.

    There are some other things you mention that are yellow flags to me, personally, like letting your skills atrophy and not advancing your career. For me, I don’t care as much about that anymore– I got really burnt out, just really don’t find a lot of meaning from work, and am a single person with a low cost of living. But you mention that your career is important to you and you’ll likely be the sole breadwinner for your family. For you, it sounds like delaying career advancement for a few years of great flexibility wouldn’t be worth it.

    I would leave. The flexibility is great, but the potential negative repercussions are just too huge.

  50. Bookworm*

    #5: Just want to give you a shoutout for promoting your intern and for asking for guidance. I took on too many internships in the hopes they would turn into something permanent and of course none did. I wasn’t expecting that any would, but I’m aware it does happen and I’m glad that it is actually a thing. Good luck to the both of you.

  51. Yes And*

    LW1: Also a finance professional here. I routinely format/organize our *internal* financial statements in ways that are not GAAP/IRS compliant, but make it easier for my non-finance-y superiors to glean the information they need to make good business decisions. (Of course, our externally-facing finances are strictly compliant.)

    Is it possible that that’s what your CEO is looking for? (Even if so, it doesn’t excuse yelling and calling you insubordinate, and I agree with everybody suggesting you start looking for a new job. I’m bringing this up as a possible way to make your remaining time at this company a little easier.)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t work in finance so this is coming from a place of genuine curiosity, but isn’t that still risky? Once a document leaves your hands you have no control over what the recipient does with it, and if they share it externally then it’s still got your name on it, right?

      I’m coming from the HR side where legal compliance is also a big deal, and the rule is ‘never put something in writing you wouldn’t be okay with a lawyer seeing’. Is finance different?

      1. Yes And*

        For external/legal/compliance reporting, there is a signature requirement (which LW1 alluded to) that doesn’t happen for internal reports. A savvy user of financial statements and/or an auditor/government agent can tell the difference between an internal report and a certified financial statement. If my CEO were to take my internal report and show it to an external stakeholder as our “financial statements,” that would be bad for the company, but my CEO would take the professional hit, not me.

    2. JustKnope*

      I hope you’re putting massive disclaimers in bold red font on those internally facing documents that they are not GAAP compliant and should not be used externally nor are they a full representation of your company’s financial statements. As Eldritch Office Worker points out, once those documents leave your hands you don’t know where they’ll end up or how they’ll be used. (Also, this might be unreasonable but shouldn’t your business leaders be able to accurately read GAAP compliant financial statements?)

  52. The Rafters*

    OP #1, just look at all of the headlines where someone’s employee went to prison b/c they followed the boss’s orders.

  53. felis*

    I am amazed at how many people completely misunderstand (in my opinion) what OP #3 is saying. He’s not saying “I think people will think it’s part of my name”, he is saying “I don’t want it to be displayed as part of my name”. And since this is about Slack, it not only affects how your name is listed above your own messages, it also affects how your name is displayed when someone addresses you by your @handle. So for example someone asking OP for help using their @handle would literally read: “Hey @John Doe (he/him) (PST), could you help me with the lama report please?” I am (stealth at work) non-binary and always happy whenever I get to (safely) specify my pronouns, but I also would not want them as part of how people address me, even if it’s done automatically by the software and I know nobody will confuse it as part of my actual name.

    1. Dahlia*

      I don’t think it’s a misunderstanding when the headline is “I don’t want people to think my pronouns and time zone are part of my name” and the letter says, “My name isn’t “John Doe (he/him) (PST).”

      We all know his name isn’t John Doe (PST).

      That isn’t a misunderstanding. It’s just reading the letter.

      1. Llama Identity Thief*

        Okay, I’d like Alison to weigh in if she sees this. (Kinda tempted to post a link to ensure it’s seen, but that feels mildly abusive of the system.)

        Is this a case where the header was what the LW wrote in, or is this a case where you created that header? Because after reading SOLELY the contents of the letter itself, not the headline, I’ve given the theory that the LW doesn’t care at all about what other people see, but just a deep internal attachment to his name, that pains him internally only when he reads things next to his name. I know headers are sometimes, but not always, provided directly by the LW – if this is a LW specific header, that blows that theory to smithereens.

  54. Casey Stephens*

    LW #1 – I’m in a similar situation. I’m doing a job I like, get along with my coworkers, and earn a better-than-average salary. But one of the owners is TERRIBLE. It’s too much to go into, but I am working my way through the process of deciding if I deal with the “devil I know” for a good salary, or leave for a new position with less pay and the possibility of a new boss who could be just as terrible.

  55. Lifelong student*

    Accounting person- get out! I am a CPA who was hired by a small not for profit. I had worked for other not for profits in other years. In this case, the ED made it clear that she was the chief financial officer and would direct how the financials would be presented. When I prepared the budget for the following year, I prepared in in accordance with GAAP which meant that I showed huge bad debt expense because we had a lot- a real lot- of uncollectible accounts that she refused to let me write off. I made it very clear that it would be a violation of my professional standards to not disclose this. I was fired a two weeks later with the reason I was a bad culture fit- fortunately for me it was the day before I was giving notice so I got to collect UC for the six weeks before my next job began. Win-Win! The ED retired two months later- and after she retired it was discovered that most of the uncollectible accounts were fake accounts which had been used to disguise fake revenue. As a NFP there were no tax implications but obviously prior years financial reports were fraudulent. I was very happy my name was not on any of them.

  56. kiki*

    “I already have my pronouns and time zone in my Slack profile and did so willingly before I was asked to.”

    The question is a bit odd because I don’t fully understand the reasoning for so strongly not wanting to include this extra information in their slack name, especially since LW already includes that information elsewhere in their profile.

    I am wondering, though, if leadership making this request is aware that profiles already have fields for this information? I get how it might be slightly easier to see pronouns and timezone without having to do the extra click into the profile, but honestly it’s just one click.

  57. Elledub67*

    I must really be looking forward to the Succession finale, because I automatically read #5 in the voice of Tom Wambsgans.

  58. Dust Bunny*

    OP1: Okay, I, personally, think that any time you’re asked to do shady-to-definitely illegal stuff, it’s time to start searching.

    But even if you’re not, searching isn’t an obligation to leave. You can always look and then decide you don’t want to take any of the jobs you find.

  59. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    LW1, I know Alison is right to say some people would really like the “good” aspects of your job, but have you thought much about why many people would see even those aspects as negative?

    It doesn’t sound very sustainable; at some point, surely they will realise they’re overstaffing/overpaying? Or, if they don’t, the business will crash because it doesn’t make sense as a business model.

    As to the illegal requests, keep records of these requests, your responses, and the reactions you receive to your responses. Keep notes and email copies of these conversations to yourself.

  60. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    For LW3, is the fact that this is about pronouns a bit of a red herring?

    The LW doesn’t object to sharing his pronouns, and has them on his profile.

    The question is more “the company thinks the Slack top line is for more than just my name. I think it is just for my name. Can I tell them they’re wrong?”

    And the answer is no, not really, because your employer gets to decide how they want employees to use each field in the workplace software, even if it goes again the norms elsewhere.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t think it’s a red herring because the LW’s concern is about optics. I think if the question had been “I don’t want my time zone in my name, can I push back?” – I’m not sure OP would have written to an advice column about that, he would have just raised it with his boss. The concern and the reason for seeking advice is “can I even pick this battle, or will I look bigoted” and that required the pronoun context.

      1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        Oh, yes, that’s true. I mean the level of discussion going into all the possible reasons for not sharing pronouns at all, when the LW has already done that so it isn’t relevant to the letter.

  61. sarah*

    LW #5 – I strongly second Alison’s advice about treating your intern’s transition as if he was brand new! I was in the same situation a few years ago but I was the intern. I’d worked with this organization for a few years in college and then got hired full time when I graduated. My manager assumed I knew everything already and didn’t give me any kind of new employee orientation whatsoever. I like to think I was able to hit the ground running but I was really insecure that I was missing stuff for like six months after I started. It would have been really nice to have just been treated like a brand new person so I knew for sure that I didn’t have any knowledge gaps!

  62. Justme, The OG*

    I’m a huge Mandalorian fan and I work in higher education and that email signature is so inappropriate.

  63. Risha*

    LW2, that email signature is just….wow I don’t know what word to use. I’m a huge supporter of law abiding people owning weapons/guns, and I own several myself, but this is just next level. It does not belong in the workplace. People at your job shouldn’t know either way how you feel about weapons.

    If it were someone you knew well, I would suggest speaking to them and letting them know the signature isn’t cool. But since you don’t know this person, definitely take Alison’s suggestion to forward it to HR. Not in a getting them in trouble way, but more like this isn’t appropriate and maybe the person had a huge lapse in judgement.

  64. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    I work in a field where it isn’t uncommon for people to give evidence of personal experiences, non-professional work, advocating for a relative etc as a case for why they should be hired.

    I understand the reasoning, but it often leaves me the impression that the candidate doesn’t have enough professional experience to draw on. It would also worry me that they don’t fully understand the difference between doing those things personally and doing them professionally, on behalf of an organisation. In my field, those things are very, very different. Success metrics, motivations, everything.

    Now, if it comes up during an interview, with an otherwise good candidate, I’d dig into those things further. If they put it on their resume, it’s either a waste of space that you could use for something else more relevant, or, if not, it highlights the lack of the “something more relevant.”

    But this depends on the job, in some cases it might be very relevant!

    1. kiki*

      I think it can be something useful to bring up if you’re early career or trying to enter a new field where your personal experience is highly transferrable. For example, if you’re a new grad applying an entry-level care position and have no other related experience, indicating that you had experience caring for a relative could be helpful. But if you’re applying for a director position at a hospital, it might be an interesting note to include in your cover letter that your experience being a caregiver for a relative inspired you to get into this work, but you should really make sure you focus on other more concrete work experience.

  65. BellyButton*

    #3 WHAT? no one, in the history of instant messaging, would think that has anything to do with your name. It makes it so it is easy to see without needing to take the extra step to click on your profile. It is also nice for when you are in a video meeting with multiple people you can see people’s pronouns right there and are able to ensure you are being respectful. Even my last super conservative Japanese company had this as standard.

  66. Baron*

    #2: Yeah, I’m a curmudgeon, so feel free to disregard, but even without “weapons are my religion”, I find something extremely off-putting about “I’m a Mandalorian” in a work signature. A professional quoting pop culture in their work signature strikes me as a bit odd, but “I’m a” crosses the line into…cosplay?…in a way I don’t love. A political staffer with a “West Wing” quote in their e-mail signature would be odd – a political staffer saying, “I’m Josh Lyman!” in their e-mail signature would be unbearable. (For a few reasons.)

    1. Silver Robin*

      Oh goodness, if I ran across “I’m Josh Lyman” I would be…skeptical of that person. True Josh Lyman would not need to say it XD

    2. Snowy*

      It could *maybe* make sense if the person is heavily involved in a charity cosplay group – as a member of Mando Mercs, Rebel Legion, or 501st Legion, one really can “be” a Mandalorian in an “official” manner. It’s still odd for work though. Plus, these groups’ members cannot be paid for appearances (donations to charity only) per Lucasfilm rules, so it’s never going to be work-related unless you actually work for Disney.

    3. Pippa K*

      In this case, “I’m a Mandalorian” is part of the quote, not something the sig person is saying about themselves. (And in the quote, it’s the explanation being given for why weapons are important to Din Djarin. Still not appropriate as a work sig quote, of course.)

      1. Observer*

        This is an example of what I had mentioned elsewhere of people not exactly getting the reference. It’s really not sensible or appropriate to have something in your standard work sig that requires this level of knowledge of a particular entertainment franchise. Even one as popular as Start Wars.

        1. UKDancer*

          indeed. I’d also say that even people who know Star Wars may not know this series. I mean I watched the original films and the most recent ones with Carrie Fisher and Rogue One so know who the main characters from that are. I’ve not seen any of the TV series because I don’t watch much TV. So I’d have no idea what this was about or what this quote signified.

      2. Arthenonyma*

        The thing I find particularly entertaining here is that in the context of the show, that quote is Din Djarin protesting that he doesn’t want to lock his weapons up as per regulations… and then having to do it anyway whether he likes it or not. So perhaps not the flex the quoter thinks it is.

      3. Baron*

        It’s funny – I did get that it’s part of the quote, but it still somehow *feels* like something the sig person is saying/relating to.

  67. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    OP#1, my situation was not in the Finance realm, but many many moons ago I left a position because a high level superior asked – no, demanded – that I do something unethical. My boss was on vacation that week, and her deputy was recently promoted and afraid of this high level superior, so she pushed me to just do it.

    I was gone as soon as I could find a new role. This was an office that had been grooming me for a promotion and though I knew it was toxic and problematic, I figured I could stick it out to get to where I wanted to be, but after that I knew I couldn’t stay. As it so happened, as a result of my moving on it positioned me better for the next step(s) in my career than I ever could have planned for otherwise. But even if it hadn’t, I don’t think I would have regretted leaving that role behind.

    When people (and workplaces, for that matter) show you who they are, BELIEVE THEM. Get out now.

  68. Ginger Cat Lady*

    OP1 – leave, and consider being a whistleblower so you don’t get thrown under the bus at a later date.

  69. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    I’m always disturbed when I read a letter like the first one. Any employer asking you to commit crimes, especially serious crimes, on their behalf is a deal breaker and I don’t understand why that wouldn’t be all anyone needs to know to leave a job. No other consideration is important. There will not any work/life balance or nurturing of a young child while you are in a prison cell. And, even if that weren’t a consideration, you do not want to spend a minute longer than necessary dealing with dishonest and dishonorable people. Find another job yesterday.

  70. Kotow*

    While I agree it’s not the hill to die on if you’re otherwise satisfied with your job, I don’t think disagreement with the pronoun policy makes one transphobic. I’m not convinced this actually **is** a pro-trans or trans welcoming policy. The vast majority of places I know that take this level of insistence on pronouns are all run by cis-het men and for many reasons, I don’t think they’re actually asking people what would make the workplace more inclusive or welcoming. There was even a letter here a year ago by (if I remember correctly) a non-binary writer who said they would be bothered by femme-presenting people constantly saying “she/her.” So it seems like there’s enough of a disagreement within the LGBTQIA+ community itself that pronouns shouldn’t be required nor should it be seen as “the thing” to do to show you aren’t anti-trans. OP, I get it. I don’t include my pronouns anywhere and would be ticked at being required to do so. My name matches my gender and my pronouns, and I’m fine with them assuming that. I have no problem with other people declaring their pronouns and I’d probably do so if I had a gender-neutral name. But I get it that there’s a difference between choosing to do something and being required to do so, and it’s not a difference that’s easy to explain (mostly I get “so if you don’t care, then what’s the problem”).

    That said, nobody is reasonably going to expect that “John Doe (he/him) (PST)” is actually your full legal name. If you push back on this in a company insisting that much on pronouns, it will absolutely be viewed as anti-trans even if that truly isn’t the intention or the reason. I think with any change that impacts the way you view your workplace, you have to weigh how important this really is. Pushing back would use up a lot of capital that is almost certainly better spent elsewhere.

    1. Random Dice*

      You can always find a person to say the contrary.

      I’m a femme cis female. You know who is a femme cis female and also nonbinary? Miley Cyrus.

      You know who is a buff masc cis male and also nonbinary? Nico Tortorella, the tattoo artist hottie in the tv show Younger.

      I hang out with a lot of people who are “alt” and queer in various ways. There are so many people who you’d peg, visually, as one gender but who actually have a different gender identity (or several, or none). Far more than cis people realize.

      It’s super embarrassing to assume and get it wrong. Personally, when I’m hosting I get nametags with a little pronoun field, which helps a lot.

      But if I may point out, assuming oneself is “normal” and others can just ask if they want to know isn’t actually cool… or supportive. There is a huge upswell in transphobia these days across the world, and your resting on cis privilege can also send the message that you’re NOT safe for trans and nonbinary folks.

  71. linus*

    re: LW #3: for cis people: “I don’t care what my pronouns are, call me anything” is not an affirming or helpful statement, nor is it one that signals you care about the dignity, safety, or comfort of the people in your life. Being misgendered can be profoundly upsetting, particularly if it happens routinely, even if it happens without particular malice.

    There are any number of reasons why an organization might encourage adding pronouns to something like a Slack handle (the one that immediately comes to mind is HR getting persistient complaints from a trans employee about being misgendered).

    The assessment that this will be read the same way as adding a director title to the name bar is correct– no one in their right mind is going to assume “John Doe (he/him) (PST)” is a full name, and the idea that someone might is so far beyond the realm of expectation or being reasonable that no one can credulously believe this is a real objection, hence why people are assuming that it’s an incredibly thin cover for bigotry.

    The fact of the matter is, specifically disclosing user pronouns anywhere in your personal, professional, or online identity is absolutely a political signal at this point in time. Including which pronouns I use with my online identity has prompted bigots online to make remarkable assumptions about my identity and behavior, and has lead to bigots making remarkable (incorrect) claims about who I am.

    Culture in the US and the UK is currently at a place where there is enormous potential for an actual genocide to happen in the next two to ten years. This is not an exaggeration, and if you believe it is, I strongly encourage you to research what happened to the research of Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. Historically, the treatment of trans people presages almost unbelievable violence. I am terrified. I do not know what will happen the next time I travel (within the very country where I currently live!) home. I am not alone in that terror.

    Whatever motivates your objection to disclosing your pronouns in your Slack handle, I strongly encourage you to consider who you are allying with in resisting that disclosure. You are the company you keep.

    1. Bread Crimes*

      “for cis people: “I don’t care what my pronouns are, call me anything” is not an affirming or helpful statement, nor is it one that signals you care about the dignity, safety, or comfort of the people in your life.”

      Okay, well, I actually find that affirming and helpful, because it means they’re not going to be assholes about my complicated-gender-identity use of varying pronouns where I’m fine with any but deeply uncomfortable with being pushed to declare specific pronouns. Whereas a policy requiring everyone to attach pronouns to their display names in Slack would be deeply alienating to me, and make me feel unsafe at that organization: great, I get to misgender myself constantly every single time I say something at work! And get all the gendered assumptions about me that go with whichever version of misgendering I pick! GREAT.

      I put ‘my’ pronouns in my sig block because it feels obligatory, and because that’s much less looked at. It’s far less uncomfortable to misgender myself there.

      So I’d just as soon not be constantly outed or forced to explain myself or forced to misgender myself to all my coworkers every single time I speak to them by text. And you might consider who you’re allying with if you’re hostile to people who don’t put their pronouns in such a place.

      #NotAllTransFolk and so forth.

      1. linus*

        The distance between personal and professional life can be enormously far, particularly in instances like gender-feeling and gender-expression. I am glad that you find the statement “I don’t care what my pronouns are, call me anything” affirming and helpful; for me, it signals a specific kind of cis comfort with assuming that what people see will automatically correspond to a personal truth. This is not a statement I have personally known trans people (or even gender non-conforming people) to embrace or personally utilize– I have seen it deployed overwhelmingly by cis people who are secure in the knowledge that of course no one will call Sandra in reception ‘him’ or ‘xir’ or ‘they’ because Sandra shows up every day in a half inch kitten heel, a full face of makeup, and has given birth to three children.

        I am sorry that policies to disclose pronouns are ones you find alienating. I come from a part of the country where close family members could not come out to me for years and years because of a very real concern that they would lose housing and employment for doing so. The closet has kept so many people I know safe. The closet has imprisoned so many people I love in scraping, awful loneliness.

        You’re right that trans experience isn’t universal. Queer experience isn’t universal. I apologize if the statement I made was one that excluded you. I would appreciate if you could consider why I might have objections to cis people proclaiming that they “don’t care” about what pronouns are used for them.

        1. Bread Crimes*

          I can see why you have objections.

          But consider that not everyone you view as cis is necessarily cis. Most of them probably are! Possibly every single person you’ve ever interacted with while thinking “this person must be cis” is, in fact, cis! Possibly not a single person who ever said that was saying it because it was a conveniently breezy cover for the fact that they did not, in fact, enjoy being constantly assumed to be A Woman by every single person they meet just because they wear femme clothing, birthed children, and use a female-presenting name!

          You can’t know for sure. You can’t know their own private thoughts about gender, or what they feel safe expressing, or able to express. Forcing specific gender declarations is not kind, even in a theoretical perfect world where everyone can be safely uncloseted, and certainly not in the imperfect world we live in.

          I am sorry that you feel alienated by other people not disclosing their pronouns. Try to consider that there are a great many reasons beyond “I am extremely cis and confident in this and in never being misgendered” why people might not disclose theirs.

        2. An office plant*

          And I hope you consider that by implying that resisting putting pronouns in your signature or screen name means allying with bigots, you are pushing people like me – who haven’t figured out their own gender and pronouns – into the closet. Same for people who aren’t ready to announce that information.

    2. DarthVelma*

      A lot of people on this thread have spoken in detail about why they don’t want to include their pronouns on every damn thing. Whether it’s because they don’t want to be outed, because they are working through issues with their gender, or because of stereotype threat and sexism, people have reasons. You might want to read through the comments in their entirety and sit with all the reasons people disagree with you before proclaiming everyone who doesn’t include their pronouns when you think they should a bigot.

      1. linus*

        The reasons people in this thread have provided are not the reason the letter writer provided, and are thus irrelevant to the statement I made. The letter writer provided an objection that I have enormous difficulty taking in good faith, and I have provided the reasons why myself (and others) may interpret it in bad faith.

        This is a subject that is intensely politically charged and has very real stakes for a lot of people. Unfortunately, there is not a solution that will make everyone comfortable or happy– a tension that has animated queer life and queer discourse for much of my life. What is safe or comfortable for one queer person may be dangerous or painful for another. I am not naive to objections to providing pronouns in all contexts, and often they are objections I share. However, the letter writer did not provide those objections, and Alison has in fact already responded to letters that are relevant to those objections (and helpfully linked one in her response).

    3. Ferret*

      But “I don’t want to affirmatively state my pronouns” is not the same thing as “I don’t care what you call me”. And a reluctance or objection to disclosing does not indicate alignment with the bigotry you reference, as per the discussion above and at the linked letter where there are many trans and non-binary people, as well as others, who outline in a very detailed way why they would find such forced disclosure unsafe or uncomfortable

    4. penny dreadful analyzer*

      In the non-corporate circles I travel in, people who don’t have a preference about what pronoun set other people use for them usually put “any/all.” It is understood that this means that any and all pronouns are acceptable, not that the person’s pronouns are “any” in the subject case and “all” in the object case.

      When I hear “I don’t care what my pronouns are, call me anything” I have no way of knowing if the person is just using a very wordy way of saying “any/all” or if they are trying to signal being Cool and Nonchalant About Gender while assuming that no one will ever get it “wrong” and they will become discombobulated if someone does. I am fortunately privileged enough that I feel perfectly safe doing the very simple thing it takes to find out: take the person at their word.

      I do think a lot of the things that make this such a thorny issue in workplaces is that these practices were developed in grassroots (usually activist or purely social) groups made up predominantly or at least heavily of queer and gender non-conforming people, so the basic principle of “if there is information about you that you want other people to get correct, you have to give it to them, and if you don’t give it to them, that means they don’t have it” is pretty straightforward. The dynamics in a big corporation are very different.

    5. LittleSomething*

      Being misgendered *can* be profoundly upsetting. It isn’t for everyone. Some people genuinely don’t care what their pronouns are and don’t care what people call them. You can’t force them to care.

      A lot of people assume I would care or be bothered about being called the typical pronouns of the opposite sex, but I’m not. When I say I don’t care about pronouns or don’t have preferred pronouns people usually (in a way that comes off as semi-spiteful to me) exclusively call me the opposite sex’s pronouns to try to prove that I care, but I just don’t. I don’t even have any/all as my preferred pronoun. I just fundamentally do not care. People call me whatever. I don’t know how to express that I don’t care in a way that doesn’t sound invalidating to someone who cares tremendously.

    6. Random Dice*

      I don’t think you’re wrong to worry about genocide. We’ve been ticking our way through the checklist for years now.

  72. Jujyfruits*

    I know this isn’t the main point, but “PST” can be confusing. It’s technically PDT right now. And sometimes the west coast is on one pacific time, and Arizona is on another… point being, these things are much easier when they’re listed in a field that auto-updates. I wouldn’t be worried about people thinking it was part of my name, but I’d be worried it would confuse them regarding scheduling.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      Thank you for pointing out the PST v PDT distinction. You’re right that no one pays attention to this, and it’s why I sometimes use the informal “California time” even in business correspondence.

  73. Coverage Associate*

    The first time I went to a meeting where pronouns were announced, they did introductions very quickly. Being a visual person, I wrote down the names as we went around the table:

    John Hiam
    Mary Sheir
    Alex Hiam
    Jane Sheir …

    We were mostly around the table before I realized what was happening.

    Courts sometimes make you put your line on the docket into your name on the conference software: “3 John Smith.” The judges and clerks never call people numbers. They don’t even call people by their first names.

    1. Random Dice*

      Ok that’s hilarious. “Funny, all the Shiar and Hiam folks must be related.”

  74. FionaFancyPants*

    OP #1 – That is nuts and repeatedly being asked to do illegal things is definitely a sign you need to get out!! There are other places which will have good benefits, even if not at the level that this place has – you have the power to shop around and negotiate for flexibility and salary that works for you :)

    I was in a similar situation to you a few years ago and leaving really worked out for me. The good parts of my old job were really good and the bad parts were bananacrackers crazy (although fortunately not illegal). I left and although I sometimes miss Old Job, I feel a lot less anxiety over coming to work everyday and I feel like I have way more room to grow in my field than I did in my previous spot. Stagnation is real.

    Good luck!

  75. Mimmy*

    Related to #5 – Thank you, Alison, for the link to what a good orientation looks like. I think many companies feel they just don’t have the time to provide a comprehensive orientation–I can’t say I’ve ever had proper onboarding to where I really felt like I could jump right in. I am notorious for asking a thousand questions, even when I’m well into my employment. Perhaps a good orientation may eliminate that tendency… maybe ;) j/k

    Creating an outline similar to what you suggested is a good time investment – it gives new employees–including those transition from intern or volunteer positions–something to reference back to. Just be sure it is updated when appropriate. I am definitely keeping this list as a framework for questions I may ask at my next new job.

  76. RLC*

    LW#1: Cut your losses and run! You’ve described a scenario very similar to one I was in 25+ years ago. Great pay, reasonable hours, BUT my boss hadn’t a clue what my newly created job involved and made it very clear that I was expected to ignore my code of professional ethics (I’m a licensed engineer). I ran for the door at 5 months into that mess and never regretted my choice.
    I do wonder if they are setting you up to take the fall when their schemes inevitably go horribly wrong. In the engineering world when things go bad the first question is usually “who signed off on this”, you don’t want to be that person unless you can legally support all you did.

  77. Dahlia*

    For LW4 what would you do if you were caregiving for a family member and being paid for it, whether by the family member directly or through some kind of program or grant? Should that be counted as caregiving experience then?

    1. Colette*

      I would lean towards no, for the same reasons as doing it unpaid – you’re not accountable in the same way as you would be doing it for a stranger. But if you were employed by a third party, you could use it.

  78. All Aboard*

    Great timing for me for #5! Thank you to OP for asking and Alison for answering. I just made an offer to an internal candidate who is currently in a support role and will now be doing a job similar to one she supported. I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to onboard her, since she’s actually been at this organization longer than me. After reading the response, I’m thinking a full onboarding will probably be helpful to us both!

  79. AngelicGamer (she/her)*

    For OP #3 – do it in brackets since you’re being told to do it. That way people will definitely know it’s not your name which they knew to begin with and it might help you.

  80. greenfordanger*

    I worked with a person who had a job as a sheriff in the legal system. We’re in Canada where sheriffs in my jurisdiction operate as Officers of the Court, executing civil warrants, keeping order in some courts, in some cases escorting prisoners etc. They’re not sheriffs as in western movies. This sheriff, who was the nicest person and actually a very smart and sensitive man was an outdoorsman who really enjoyed hunting. One day I noticed his new email tagline: a quote from Hemingway “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” I had to have a talk with him to explain why that was wildly inappropriate for someone in the justice system but to his credit he simply said that he hadn’t considered that it might be seen negatively and he took it off right away.

  81. Sometimes maybe*

    For both #2 & #3, Get over it. Just accept the email/slack situations for what they are, roll your eyes, and get back to work.

  82. Any old username*

    Talk about burying the lede LW1 – your CEO is yelling at you and sending you home for insubordination because you refuse to falsify/alter financial statements that could put you at serious legal risk. Talk to a lawyer now to try and make sure you’re covered before you leave. Then get out of there, documenting the heck out of everything you do before you leave.

  83. Avalon Angel*

    I urge the partner with the disabled spouse to follow the advice and leave it off. I am seriously disabled—I’m writing this from yet another hospital room—and have been for nearly 30 years. My spouse and I have learned the hard way (and years of support groups have shown this to be no anomaly) that it’s best to keep that info private. The same thing seems to happen every time it gets disclosed. They express sympathy, offer support, etc. That lasts a month or so, tops. Then a change occurs. No matter how long you’ve been there or how great an employee you’ve been, your employers/bosses/co-workers start to believe you are going to be unreliable, distracted, and in general not pulling your weight. They treat you differently in subtle but impactful ways.

    My husband has been working at his current job for 17 years. He has received raises, promotions, and great reviews. He has never been reprimanded and was well-liked. They found out last week when I took a bad fall and ended up here. It’s already starting.

  84. the cat ears*

    The particular issue about the slack profile is kind of silly, but I’m alarmed at all the comments that jump right to “doesn’t want to share pronouns = transphobic.” I’ve talked to trans people, people who don’t feel they neatly fit into a particular gender category, people who aren’t sure how they personally feel about their own gender identity etc. who dislike the idea of sharing pronouns being mandatory. I also fall into this; I have complicated feelings about sharing pronouns in work context that I’ll just summarize by saying that what pronouns I list on forms etc. don’t always reflect my actual feelings about my gender, just whatever I think will get me through the interaction with minimal hassle. And I would just rather it be optional to answer.

    How to handle this from a workplace policy perspective is a different matter — maybe there are compelling enough reasons to mandate or strongly suggest pronouns in signatures to make it worth it — but I guess I’m just dismayed to see one’s personal feelings on declaring one’s own pronouns with some sort of bigotry against trans people generally.

    1. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

      And, as Alison rightly points out, people may be varying levels of “out.” It is entirely possible that forcing a person to list their pronouns means forcing them to choose between misgendering themselves and outing themselves when they aren’t ready to.

      (Personally, I would PREFER not to list pronouns, but I do choose to anyway because I figure that as a cis male who occupies all kinds of privileged spaces, the value of making that small gesture of support for trans and enby people outweighs whatever mild discomfort I may feel, especially at this fraught and dangerous moment in time.)

    2. Matt*

      Me Too. (No pun intended.) I see an alarming increase of “if you’re not 150 % for us, you’re against us” in these postings.

      The whole pronouns thing seems to be a big American issue. I work at a big European city’s municipal government which is politically governed by a big left-hand party’s majority, I thought you can’t get more progressive than they are (really big about gender-sensitive language, diversity and whatever), but I’ve never heard of the whole pronouns thing before reading about it on AAM. Let alone *mandating* to declare your pronoun.

  85. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

    #3: Personally, I put [he/him] after my name but on a second line, with a small “why this matters” link right next to it in italics. (Can’t remember the URL that it points to off the top of my head, but it’s basically the content you would expect.)

    I do think that the technically redundant “he/him” as opposed to just “he” helps make out more clear that it isn’t, say, a weirdly capped professional certification.

    1. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

      (Whoops, I read the OP too fast and didn’t realize it was about Slack fields and not email signatures.)

  86. Parse*

    #4- I have a book recommendation! This won’t solve your quandary, but it may fill you with righteous fervor, as it did me. I recently read Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, by Angela Garbes, which is not really about parenting so much as caregiving, and she highlights the social and economic roles of caregivers, which is a category she extends from parents to nannies to hospice workers and even to maintenance workers, and how they have come to be exploited. And she explains how caregivers are exploited laborers, which I thought was cool.

  87. Quill*

    #3: If you really are worried about the signature block being unclear, instead of reacting to the idea that you’d have to spell out something that people have (correctly) assumed your whole life such as your pronouns, try playing with the format. If you can manage line breaks in your application’s signature, it may help to format it more like an address on an envelope.

    John Doe
    Pacific Standard Time

    If line breaks are not supported, try a format that separates it into three statements.

    John Doe. Pronouns: He/Him/His. Time Zone: PST

  88. Procedure Publisher*

    I am disappointed with how many people didn’t seem to understand LW3 was talking about the name field in Slack. If the name field in Slack had a character limit, I would be pushing back on this because my first and last name together is fairly long. Also, I will never feel comfortable with sharing my pronouns.

  89. Former_Employee*

    I wonder if the OP is uncomfortable because he has a feeling that one or more of his co-workers are undecided or hesitant to make such a declaration.

    While this never came up while I was still working, I know that I wouldn’t like the idea that people were being forced to go public.

    This seems too much like requiring people to display a family photo on their desk so you can see if their SO is opposite or same sex, their SO’s race, how many children they have, etc. I think all of this is private information and it should be totally up to each individual employee to determine how much or little they wish to share.

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