Hey Guys: We Need to Talk About Words at Work

Yesterday, Australian of the Year David Morrison – a long-time campaigner of gender equality – said that we need to stop using the term ‘hey guys’ in the workplace, among others.

Morrison, a retired Lieutenant General hit news headlines in 2013 for calling out the military’s sexist culture and is now partnering with the Diversity Council of Australia to wage war against a number of words and phrases commonly used in the workplace.

These words include, “abo”, “retard”, “fag”, “dyke”, “poofter” and “so gay”, which clearly have zero place in todays workplace, let alone anywhere else in 21st century culture. The word “guys” on the other hand, seems a little excessive, but the Diversity Council says it can make women feel left out.

Now don’t get me wrong, gender equality is incredibly important and a cause of which I am a huge supporter, but are we maybe getting a little carried away at this point? Surely we can agree that “guys” has become a completely innocuous way to address a group of people of any gender.

I know this may not bear a whole lot of weight coming from a male, so I conducted a poll of our entire office to gauge their thoughts. A not-at-all surprising 100 percent of female respondents said “hey guys” is not offensive in the slightest, with most stating they used the phrase within the last 2 hours.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop agrees, stating that “we can take this kind of concern too far”.

“There are some generic words that should not cause offence. It would depend on the circumstances but 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,” she said at a doorstop interview yesterday.

People should always feel comfortable, particularly in the workplace, but this overzealous use of political correctness is just too much. “Hi team” or “hi everyone” just feels grey and far too corporate, but what other gender neutral terms do we use without sounding like robots?

What do you think? Is “guys” sexist? Let us know in the comments.