A former chief of the Australian Army who has become a leader in equality campaigns in the country is now urging Australians to stop using the term “guys” in the workplace. David Morrison, who was named Australian of the Year for his work for equality awareness, said he has removed the term from his own lexicon as part of a #WordsAtWork awareness push by Australia’s Diversity Council asking people to avoid using terms that could be offensive to minority groups, including “girls” instead of women, and “walk the talk” to people in wheelchairs.
“People use language to denigrate others and to take away their self-respect. Sometimes it happens unconsciously, but the effect is the same,” he told the BBC.
The campaign has drawn some criticism for its broad inclusion of terms that some say aren’t necessarily offensive or gendered. Australian National University language expert Catherine Travis told Australia’s ABC that “you guys” was gender inclusive in current usage. Some also wondered whether the Australian term “mate” might come under fire next.