The backlash against the Words At Work Campaign

Are the language police after us?  Certainly it won't be me.

Are the language police after us? Certainly it won’t be me.

As much as I love diversity, fair workplaces and stand against discrimination of any form (being a Middle Eastern Man myself), it’s been tragic seeing the latest “Words at Work” campaign in progress.

“Words at Work” is a campaign as part of the Diversity Council Australia supported by the Australian of the Year and former Army chief David Morrison.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, simply YouTube “Words at Work” you can watch it there. They have disabled comments on their YouTube Video and on Facebook & Twitter – they are totally getting smashed.

If you watch the video, it is a part educational / part ‘humour’ type of video talking about the importance of words in the workplace in how quote:

– “How language cuts people out or cuts them down”

The video goes on to use lots of examples of from standard type of humour, attacks men as talking over women all the time and even uses quite extreme samples of highly offensive language.

Assuming it was well intended to protect the rights of people, it tends to have the opposite impact of enthralling one in the cause. I highly respect the cause however there have been key issues that have created quite a backlash:

– You can’t say the word ‘Guys’ anymore, even considered in a Gender Neutral.

– You cannot call a group of women ‘Girls’.

– Banter in the office is a key part of this.

– You have to watch everything you say all the time.

– It’s focusing on this and not more serious issues that concern Australia (e.g. nursing shortages, education, homelessness.

– [My Big One] More pressure on freedom of speech.

After doing my desktop research on this and getting into topic, it’s even got me thinking on this issue in a way that I am not sure if good for anyone.

I think any reasonable person is all for making diverse workplaces and there is a different to saying:

“Be considerate of what you say”

Compared too:

“You now cannot say these words and you must monitor everything you say”

I share the awesome Julie Bishop’s view on this as going too far and impacting on free speech and I find it very scary that “language police” are going to be unleashed upon us.

My thinking and wrap on this one? When you go too far in policing people’s right to free speech and trying to control people too much, you start creating a reaction that is not as intended. I think in this case we are seeing now the word “Guy” become a powerful word and people who will speak more in order to resist against their rights being taken away from us.

I think this campaign and it’s approach won’t actually achieve their objectives. It’s creating more reason for people to push back and protect their rights.

We shall see!

Love your work, thank you for the read, here is to pro-diversity and pro-freedom of speech!