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Business card on a desk: Instead of saying ladies... consider using gender inclusive language
2015 . August . 12
Pink Sheep Media

Social change is one of the reasons that I care about advertising and communications design. When I see a design project that wears its heart on its sleeve, I get a jolt of hope for my industry. Here’s a great example.

when greeting customers, instead of saying ladies, gentlemen, ma’am, sir, girls, guys, and the like, please consider using gender neutral language. here are some options: ‘Good morning folks’ ‘Hi everyone’ ‘Can I get you all something?’ ‘And for you’ ‘Thanks friends, have a wonderful night’

Why? Shifting to gender neutral language respects and acknowledges the gender identities of all people and removes assumption. Join the movement to be more mindful of language. And if you make a mistake and misgender someone, it’s okay, say sorry once and move on. Thank you for making an effort!

This little card is fantastic. And effective. I’ve seen it in action a number of times. Most recently I was working the door at a gig for Kingsley and, because Kingsley is also fantastic, he asked me to give away as many of these cards as was comfortable.

So I did.

And people loved them. I think partly we all enjoy a gentle reminder that we can resist the dominant, alienating, social scripts. And we also crave a simple gentle way to pass on this encouragement to others. I don’t always feel capable of saying something directly to a busy server (or an overworked contractor). But I can leave this little note for them, and I think it’s just the right combination of assertive and supportive.

The messaging is clear and polite. And much needed. As my friends at VSAC sometimes say, gender is tender.

The card is designed and freely offered by designer, illustrator and artist Toni Latour. I encourage you to check out her article on the Hello There project.