Don’t call me Shirley – or a guy


The Guy of the Year, er, sorry, the Australian of the Year, wants you to stop using words like “guys” in your workplace.

“I have now removed that from my lexicon as best I can, I think it’s important.”

What if you are talking to, well, a group of guys?

Presumably that’s still OK, except why do you only have guys in your workplace? Do you discriminate, or something?

It’s probably better you resist the temptation to use “guys” altogether, lest you let a let it slip in a mixed company.

I confess I often use – albeit not at work, unless Facebook can be considered my work; I certainly spend a lot of time there – “guys and gals”, so while I’m trying to be mindful of my own language and be inclusive and all that, I’m probably offending someone who finds the term “gal” offensive.

In the video produced by the Diversity Council of Australia, and staring its Chair (and the Australian of the Year) Rt Gen David Morrison, to highlight its campaign #WordsAtWork, a group of women cringe when called “girls”.

I get it how “girls” can be seen (heard?) as patronising. Particularly when used by a man. What if a woman says it? Or what if a man calls a group of men “boys”? I don’t know, the Council doesn’t provide guidance. It also doesn’t tell me how we shall now address mixed groups. Is “Ladies and Gentlemen” too classist? Is “people” too cold and impersonal? Is “citizens” discriminatory of recent migrants?

I’m all lost. Just as well I work from home.

PS. Oh, listen, you lot – “lot”? hope that’s OK – just use your common sense. If your common sense tells you that calling your work colleague a “fag” is off, or if it tells you using the word “guy” is not the end of the world, your sense is probably quite common.

PPS. I would like to invite Rt Gen Morrison to offer guidance about #WordsAtWork at his nearest CFMEU dominated work site.