Should Leaders Tell Employees to Stop Using “Gender Inappropriate” Words?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on March 5, 2018

Did Quantas Airlines “overstep the mark” by telling employees to avoid using “gender inappropriate” words?

The airlines’ workforce received an information pack developed by People and Culture Group Executive Lesley Grant as the Aussie carrier begins its “Spirit of Inclusion­” month, according to  The Daily Telegraph.

A Quantas spokesperson said, “We want Qantas to be an inclusive workplace and we shared some factsheets created by the Diversity Council of Australia with some suggestions on more inclusive language, particularly on gender, age and LGBTI issues.”

Gender-specific terms such as “guys”, “love,” and “honey” are on a list of words to avoid, designed to help staff members avoid offending others.

“Partner” and “spouse” are preferred to “husband”­ and “wife.”  “Parents” should be used instead of “mum and dad” to avoid excluding LGBTI families.

The term “manterruptions,” where men interrupt women when speaking, was also featured in the information pack in an attempt to ease it out of staffs’ daily routines. The information pack clarifies this one by reporting,  “Research shows that in many situations, including the workplace, men interrupt and speak over women, while the reverse rarely happens.”

Do you agree with Quantas?

What gender-inappropriate words do you think we should avoid using in the workplace?


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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