Raise Your Awareness of Gendered Language On The Job and Socially
By: Monica Torres
The problem with “guys” is that it is a “masculine word,” according to Amy Jeffers, an organizational development specialist in diversity, equity and inclusion. There are better alternatives, such as “Hi, everyone” or “Hi, folks” that are not gender-assuming, Jeffers added.
Alternatives to "Hi guys"
- Hi team
- Hi crew
- Hi all
- Hi folks
- Hi people
- hi peeps
- Hi y'all (southern)
- Hi everyone (my personal favorite)
- Hi pals
- Hi friends
|This I hate |
"What can I get you guys?"
GLSEN, an education organization that advocates for policies designed to protect LGBTQ students and students of marginalized identities, advised defaulting to gender-neutral language such as “friends,” “folks,” “all” or “y’all” rather than “brothers and sisters” or “guys,” “ladies,” “ma’am” or “sir.”
Gendered language creeps into work communication in other insidious ways. Think about how you describe colleagues you don’t know. Do you default to “that guy” or “that woman?” GLSEN’s guide suggested that when you have not been introduced to people and don’t know their pronouns or gender identity, use descriptive language such as, “Can you give this paper to the person across the room with the white T-shirt and short brown hair?”
Using gender-neutral language is not about using “he” or “she” equally but asking yourself, “Why are we using he or she at all? Couldn’t we just be using ‘they’?” Jeffers said.
One way to get proactively better? Practice so that gender-neutral language at work becomes a habit. “The more we lean into gender-neutral language, the less mistakes we make, the less room for assumption, the less awkward moments,” Jeffers said. “Get good at practicing this, regardless of who is in the room, regardless if you know if someone is sensitive to this or not.”