• Emily Mathison

Office moms, boss babes, and ladies...

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Just no.

Last week, we received a ton of response to Humaira Ahmed’s post, What’s in a word? So, we thought we’d keep the conversation train rolling. Here are some more problematic or triggering words submitted by our readers and community. 

If you have any more words to add to the list, please reply to and we’ll add them to this post on our website.  

Caley Byrne, Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Cultural Safety: 

Foster and adopt: my team and I work in the social sector of the public service. The words ‘foster’ and ‘adopt’ are used lots relating to business (eg. “foster a sense of community” and “adopt the principles”) but from a cultural safety perspective, these words can be triggering due to the disproportionate number of Indigenous folks with lived experience of the foster and adoption systems. We try to switch out for terms like ‘create’, ‘enhance’ and ‘embrace’.
Execute: we hear this in business all the time, eg. “execute the plan”. But this word can be super triggering for folks and also, it’s just sort of awful if you think about it!
Childless: someone gently called me on this one a few weeks ago, and I was so grateful. They mentioned that ‘childless’ makes it sound like a negative, whereas ‘child-free’ is more inclusive of those who choose not to have children or don’t have children for a whole spectrum of reasons.

Charlotte Garcia, People & Operations Manager at LlamaZOO:

Office Mom makes me roll my eyes”

Mel Reams, Software Development Manager at Bambora:

“And I know people are trying to be nice when they do this but I haaaaate “lady and gentlemen”. I noticed that I’m always the only woman in the meeting, you don’t have to rub my nose in it. 

Erika Dowell, CEO/Cloud-Based Bookkeeper at Signal Operations:

“I generally hate most labels, to be honest. I'm certainly no expert in this but I absolutely understand how certain words and tones can trigger a reaction in someone, whether positive or negative. I’ve recently been battling with “boss babe”, “lady boss” and any other [insert feminine label] boss label.”  

Let’s keep intent in mind as we hear these, at best, annoying, and at worst, triggering, words. We walk a fine line between censorship and correction, but it’s worth the conversation and reflection. 

Send us words that make you go 🙄, 🤬 or 😬 and share this post with your friends! 

Words matter. Labels matter.

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