Qantas staff told not to use “gender inappropriate” terms

Words like “wife” and “husband” can make single parents or LGBTQ+ families feel excluded, the carrier says

Employees of the Australian carrier Qantas received an advisory package that asks them to avoid gender inappropriate terms, such as “mum”, “dad”, “husband” or “wife”.

Qantas asked their employees to avoid using "gender inappropriate" tersm such as mum, dad, husband or wife — Qantas
Qantas asked their employees to avoid using “gender inappropriate” terms such as mum, dad, husband or wife — Qantas

The recently leaked pack sent by People and Culture group executive Lesley Grant reportedly aimed to reduce possible feelings of exclusion among LGBTQ+ couples or single parents.  

“Always using the terms ‘husband­’ and ‘wife’ can reinforce the idea that people are always in heterosexual relationships,” the 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.”

The employees were also asked to avoid using words such as “guys”, “love”, “honey” and “darling”.

“Language can make groups of people invisible. For example, the use of the term chairman can reinforce the idea that leaders are always men,” the document states.

Employees were also told to avoid situations when men keep interrupting while women are speaking, know as “manteruptions”.

“Research shows that in many situations, including the workplace, men interrupt and speak over women, while the reverse rarely happens,” the pack reads.

“If I wish to refer to my ‘partner’ as hubby I bloody well will!”

The document doesn’t stop with gender and sexual equality issues, it also encourages the staff to recognise Australian history in its less flattering form.

While speaking of the first Europeans coming to the new continent, the employees should avoid using term settlement and call it an invasion, colonisation or occupation.

The leaked document has caused a backlash among the public that feels their freedom of speech is under threat.

“@Qantas are overstepping the mark. If I wish to refer to my ‘partner’ as hubby i bloody well will! As a corp entity you shouldn’t be social engineering. If you stick to your core business, you might afford paying tax,” one user wrote on Twitter.

In a statement, the author of the document, 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,” the statement says.

“We want Qantas to be an inclusive workplace and we shared some factsheets created by the Diversity Council of Australia with some suggestions on more inclusive language, particularly on gender, age and LGBTI issues,” Qantas spokeswoman told

Australia’s former prime minister Tony Abbott decided to speak against the move telling 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.