As some of you know, Tana and I like to go to universities and provide Scrum training. On one of our visits to @IU_CEWIT, Maureen Biggers pulled me aside during a break saying she wanted to talk to me. What she said to me next shocked and embarrassed me. “Chris, you have been using the term ‘guys’ when you are referring to the group (which was comprised of 19 women and one male). The term, guys, can be gender neutral to most, but can be impactful to women.” WOW!!!! Maureen was kind enough to share this article with me that added some color.
As a father and a husband, those comments hit me in my core. In my mind, I had chosen to spend my weekend helping a group of college students, while the impact of what I was doing might have the opposite effect. I immediately started trying to choose my words a little more carefully, using words like folks, ya’all, everybody, and class.
It’s carried over to my day job @ the Angie’s list. I continue to try to make better word choices, though it is a struggle to not use words that have been part of my vocabulary over my career. Some of my female colleagues have responded that it isn’t a big deal. They don’t consider it offensive or derogatory.
After thinking about it, I respectfully disagree. What we say matters, often conveying our inner thoughts and feelings. Executive leadership should consider how they can strive to change their corporate culture. Out of respect for those around us, changing a few words that I use is the least I can do for my teammates.
Thanks for coming in today.