Australian of the Year 2016 David Morrison has launched a Diversity Council Australia campaign to put a ban on gender-based words like “guys” used in office premises.
The former army chief has advocated the inappropriateness of using words like “guys” while referring to a group of men and women. The campaign has been introduced with a social media hashtag #WordsAtWork. It features a video in which female office staff members express how inappropriate it is to use words such as “girls,” ”poofter,” ”Abo,” “ball-breaker,” and “retard.”
“Everyday at work there are hazards you walk past without realizing just how dangerous they are,” Morrison says in the video. “I’m talking about the power of words. All sorts of people cop it, old labels which don’t do us justice for who we are today.”
The retired lieutenant general told ABC News Breakfast that he is not trying to express his language expertise nor does he want to become a “language police” by supporting the campaign. But he was favoring the notion, ensuring that no “exclusive language, gender-based language or inappropriate language” should be used to address another human being. “All the campaign is doing is saying look, it’s a proven fact that more inclusive [and] more diverse workforces create real diversity of thinking and are more productive, more effective,” Morrison said as quoted by SBS.
“And one of the ways that you can engender that type of environment is being careful about how you speak to other people, talking to them with respect and listening to their views with respect. I have now removed (guys) from my lexicon as best I can, I think it’s important.”
Australian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, on the contrary, said “guys” is a generic term and hence there was nothing to criticize in its usage. “I don’t think we should try and interfere with the freedom of speech in this country to a point where people are too concerned about day-to-day conversations,” she said.