While sharing of preferred pronouns has probably unneccessarily been the subject of controversy, for some it’s an important part of identity. Recognizing that, Microsoft is bringing support for pronoun sharing to profile cards in Microsoft 365, starting in March.
In a post on LinkedIn, CVP Ashok Kuppusamy laid out both the demand for expression of preferred pronouns, and some of the challenges in implementing the feature in a safe and thoughtful way.
When determining how best to implement this functionality, we were guided by our commitment to prioritize user safety. The unique challenges of building this out for a global, enterprise customer base required us to embrace our growth mindset, challenge our assumptions, and proceed with care. We evaluated the varied legal landscape globally, knowing that this is not a feature that can be used safely in all regions, company cultures or contexts. As a result, we made the intentional choice not to launch this sooner in order to design it in a way that would provide individuals with greater choice in usage.
For organizations, pronoun sharing will be off by default and IT administrators will be able to enable the feature. For individual users within orgs with the feature turned on, adoption is completely voluntary, with options to determine use based on the situation and update pronouns in real time.
Later this year, Microsoft will add pronoun sharing capabilities to Teams meetings.