Qantas staff have been told to stop using certain “gender inappropriate” words that people may take offence to, particularly those in the LGBTI community.
An information package was sent out to airline employees ahead of the company’s Spirit of Inclusion month, according to The Daily Telegraph.
“We want Qantas to be an inclusive workplace and we shared some fact sheets created by the Diversity Council of Australia with some suggestions on more inclusive language, particularly on gender, age and LGBTI issues,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
The materials included asking staff to avoid words, like “honey” or “guys”, which could be construed as inappropriate, as well as using the word “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife”.
“Always using the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ can reinforce the idea that people are always in heterosexual relationships,” the information pack reads.
“In the same way, always referring to ‘mum and dad’ can make many families feel excluded — both same-sex couples and single-parent families.”
Instead, staff are encouraged to use the phrases “partner”, “spouse” and “parents” so as not to discriminate against LGBTI families.
But some have shamed the airline for getting involved in social issues, claiming they should be focusing on running a business instead.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott told 2GB that it was “political correctness that’s gone way over the top”.
“Frankly, if companies like Qantas want to give their customers a better deal, they can scrap all these inclusion units, just scrap them, save the money because it’s just rubbish this idea that we need a corporate thought police,” Mr Abbott said.
“I mean really and truly it is a complete, absolute and utter waste of money.
“I’ve been on hundreds of Qantas flights over many, many years now. Qantas staff are very good people.
“They are decent, sensitive people; they’ve got to deal with just about every possible type of person, and they don’t need this kind of nonsense, they really don’t.
“It’s an insult to them, quite apart from a great waste of money, but I’m afraid these are the very weird and strange times in which we live.”
Others said that the advice was offensive to heterosexual couples and families.
“So now you want to call my wife of 30 years my ‘partner’? Do you know how offensive that is?
“Do you even care so long as you’re appeasing some focus group who take offence on behalf of others? Disappointed in you, Qantas,” one said.
Another: “Qantas asks staff to use gender appropriate terms. This is pure discrimination against male and female couples … how dare they decide what I or others prefer to be called.”
In a statement, the Diversity Council of Australia said it was “not telling people what they can and can’t say”.
“We are simply asking people to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and look at what they say from another perspective – and be open to changing what they have always thought is ‘normal’, respectful and appropriate to say.”