Getting it right: Why “correct speech” is important to us

When it comes to inclusivity – WiTWA is up there with the best, it is pretty much our catch cry. As it is something we strive towards and champion in the world around us, we recoil at the thought of getting it wrong.  

We’ve all observed the bemoaning of political correctness and the high emotions attached to arguments on both sides about the language we use in certain context. 

Should we change our language just because one person took offence to something we said? Should we feel entitled to keep certain words because that is what we always say

This war on words has more perspectives than my nan has tea sets.

It may seem reductionist, but maybe the best approach is just one of good will. If we view the issue as one of cultural sensitivity rather than political correctness, we are guided by ‘intent’. If we strive to treat all people with respect, regardless of their diversity qualities, then the use of ‘correct speech’ is more likely to follow. And if it doesn’t, the right words will be warmly welcomed as a correction, a lesson learnt. 

At least this is the approach we take at WiTWA. We have one of the most diverse networks going – it is a point that we celebrate and it literally drives our Diversity and Inclusion agenda. The reality is though, sometimes we are going to get it wrong, or a little skewwhiff. Also, we can’t keep up; while we are in the business of honouring people pushing through stereotypes and glass ceilings, there are a helluva lot of you with a helluva lot of stories. 

BUT we come with the best of intentions and we want to get it right. We welcome feedback, corrections and perspectives to ensure that ‘differences’ are celebrated and not isolating. If we are using a word that is offensive – let us know. If there is a better way to express a sentiment – give us a suggestion. And if we are getting the pronoun wrong – enlighten us. 

Getting it right is not easy, but it is something we are committed to. We are blessed to have an amazing network of women [and men] to assist us in ensuring our language is inclusive, honours people and most definitely does not offend.

Thanks for helping us get it right, or as far removed from wrong that we can be.

Article written by Aparna Burke

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