As a society we could all benefit from using our manners more, but could the suggestion of our Australian of the Year be taking it a little far?
60-year-old David Morrison wants us to stop using gender exclusive terms such as ‘guys’ i.e. “Hey guys!” when addressing people of both genders.
The former Army chief said the term ‘guys’ especially needs to leave workplaces.
He’s now launched a new Diversity Council Australia video which aims to crack down on language which excludes minority groups.
“Exclusive language, gender-based language or inappropriate language, has as much a deleterious or disadvantaged effect as something where you’re saying something blatantly inappropriate to another human being,” General Morrison told ABC News Breakfast.
He said he was not trying to become the “language police” and said he knows he’ll be criticised.
“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,” General Morrison said.
“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.”
General Morrison said he was making a conscious effort to stop using the word “guys” when speaking to groups of people.
“I have now removed that from my lexicon as best I can, I think it’s important”.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said “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”.
According to Australian National University language expert Catherine Travis said “you guys” had evolved to include all genders and was commonly accepted.
“Mum really only refers to a mum, girls only refers to girls, whereas the meaning of guys has changed to include males and females”.