Microsoft will allow Microsoft 365 users to indicate their pronouns on their profile cards starting in March. According to Microsoft, using the feature is completely voluntary and will be off by default.
The feature was announced in a recent LinkedIn post by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ashok Kuppusamy. According to Kuppusamy, the decision to deliver the feature came from “significant demand” from customers demanding “additional capabilities to support personal expression.” With this, the company decided to release the capability to Microsoft 365 users.
“This feature has many uses, but at its core, it creates the conditions to help prevent misgendering for transgender and nonbinary people,” said Kuppusamy. “The impact of misgendering is well-documented; inclusive products and services are one critical element to supporting a culture where employees are respected and valued in the workplace.”
Kuppusamy noted that the rollout would be optional for everyone. Aside from being off by default (which means the companies’ IT admins need to activate them), workers within organizations that will use the feature will have the freedom if they want to identify their pronouns. Kuppusamy shared that the Redmond company decided to make this optional due to the different laws and cultures around the globe.
“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,” he explained. “We encourage IT administrators to engage their organization’s HR team as a key partner before turning on this functionality to ensure a full understanding of how local laws and organizational cultures can put transgender and nonbinary employees at risk, even when companies have the best of intentions.”
Later this year, Microsoft plans to expand this feature to Teams, which will allow users to show their pronouns during meetings.