After reading “The Inclusive Language Handbook” by Jackie Ferguson and Roxanne Bellamy, I was thoroughly embarrassed. I was reminded of all the non-inclusive words that I’ve been wrongly using for years at work and at home. They included sexist language, totally dumb terms and words that I should never have used.
This short book is filled with examples, exercises and quizzes to make us more aware of using language that includes everyone. According to the authors, “Inclusive language is the daily practice of communicating intentionally unbiased words that acknowledge diversity, convey respect, and support an environment of equitable opportunity.” They stress “daily practice” as using inclusive language can have a positive effect on culture and human relationships.
I never paused to think that humankind is more inclusive than mankind, human-made is better than man-made and it’s better addressing folks as friends, colleagues, team etc. than saying “you guys.” I didn’t know that a more inclusive term for wheelchair bound was “person who uses a wheel chair” and it’s better addressing a person as having a learning disability than saying that the person was a slow learner. The book also provides specific guidance regarding inclusive language use across different sectors like healthcare and retail.
This is a treasure for anyone wanting to use more inclusive language to enhance communication and collaboration.
In late January 2016, Jamie Fiore Higgins, one of the most powerful women at Goldman Sachs decided to call it quits. For two decades, she was at a workplace filled with misogyny. Her book Bully Market reveals the inner workings of a powerful boys’ network that permeates corporate culture in America.
Higgins came from a hardworking Italian American immigrant family. She wanted to be a social worker but her dad wanted her to be in a financially lucrative career. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, she joined Goldman Sachs and the money was good, really good.
Bully Market is a riveting account of how the boys’ network systematically excluded her and used their abusive power to pin her down at every turn. This is the story of Tom White kicking her out of an open meeting, Eric choking her and pinning her against the wall, Mike screaming at her for going against the Goldman “family values”, of Justin sabotaging her review and Jerry and Vito mocking her.
This boys’ network is still alive and kicking and not much has changed for women in corporate America. In a non-linear work culture, hybrid work environments now allow instant online bullying instead of bullying at the workplace.
Bully Market is a candid, tell-all story, very few women would dare to write. Higgins exposes her vulnerability, her daily conflict of money versus values, her relationship with her husband, and how she withstood two decades of abuse in corporate America.
“Leaving your desk to get your wing tips shoe-shined was a worthwhile endeavor. Providing breast milk for your infant at home? Not so much. Those men in the offices clutched on to their old boys’ club values with white knuckled fists,” she writes angrily about how she was treated during and after pregnancy.
As an intern, she was subject to humiliating treatment at the hands of trainers. Later, when she became a trainer, she was upset about her own behavior. “Like the long-bullied kid on the playground who becomes the bully, I had become a part of the cycle of abuse at Goldman Sachs,” she writes.
According to her, Goldman’s value system was so different from what was shown in glossy brochures and their website. Higgins calls out human resources and employee relations departments for being the least helpful and the least confidential.
This was a value system created by men in glass offices. Higgins always felt that she was owned by the brand and she was nobody without it.
All this happened prior to the “Me Too” movement and the killing of George Floyd. Since then, corporations have made paranoid attempts to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into their mission statements. In her parting advice to the C-suites at Goldman Sachs she writes: “Don’t take the company’s ideals and create a list of business principles or best practices, or stick them as chapters in an employee handbook. Instead make them permeate the offices and be modeled by everyone in senior management.”
Hope things have changed at Goldman Sachs and other corporations. In an age of non-linear working and quite quitting, it’s better upholding the values that you were taught at home and not at your workplace.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.