Words We Should Stop Using

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El Paso–Juárez, Texas and Mexico; photo by the author

Business and technology are filled with gendered, racist, and otherwise insidious words that we should stop using. I am not the first to point this out, nor will I write the most comprehensive post on the topic. Nevertheless, it is helpful for me, and hopefully the team at Brightflag, to maintain this list and refer to it as we work to eliminate biases and change deeply ingrained behaviors.

I will update this list over time, noting when I do so. The absence of a word on this list doesn’t mean that I endorse its continued use. Suggestions and critiques are welcome via comments or email.

  • Black hat (as in hacking) → malicious (added October 16, 2020)
  • Blacklist → deny list
  • Chairman → chairperson (added September 29, 2020)
  • Gals/girls (as in, “the gals”) → ladies or women (added October 21, 2020)
  • Grandfather → legacy
  • Guys (as in, “hey, guys”) → e.g., team
  • Man days/hours/power → person days/hours/power (expanded October 16, 2020)
  • Master (as in technology) → primary
  • Middleman → intermediary (added October 25, 2020)
  • Postmortem → retrospective
  • Slave (as in technology) → replica
  • Slave away → e.g., work hard (added November 15, 2020)
  • Stepchild (in the pejorative) → e.g., neglected (added October 15, 2020)
  • Trump → top (added September 28, 2020)
  • White hat (as in hacking) → ethical (added October 16, 2020)
  • Whitelist → allow list
  • Wifebeater (as in clothing) → tank top (added October 28, 2020)
  • Wingman → partner (added November 17, 2020)

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