A University has been in the news for reportedly ‘banning’ the use of certain words. Cardiff Metropolitan has faced criticism from some who perceive this to be a restriction on freedom of speech.
But the University has explained that this is about encouraging the use of inclusive language, and that its Code of Practice on this (which suggests using ‘disabled people’ instead of ‘the disabled’, and gender-neutral terms like ‘businessperson’ and ‘chairperson’, for example) ‘makes no demands, bans nothing and carries no sanctions’. It is to do with promoting fairness and equality by raising awareness about the effects of potentially discriminatory vocabulary, the University says.
To put this in its wider context, it makes sense for all organisations to have an ear to the ground. Listen to the language that is being used around you and think about how best to deal with any issues as part of your responsibility to manage an increasingly diverse workplace. We know from the pages and pages of employment tribunal decisions that words can cause offence, and their use can be discriminatory. People say the wrong things, they use outdated expressions – sometimes without realising. And there is no doubt that equality and harmony are far easier to achieve if there is a shared understanding of what is and is not acceptable.