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The Power of Language: The #MyNameIs Campaign

Blog posted by: Owen Jones, 25 September 2023.

As communications professionals, we know that words are more than just words. Words have the power to connect us, or alienate and exclude, sometimes unintentionally.

The same goes for our names. Our name is part of our personal identity and is often reflective of our heritage, cultural background and family traditions. It’s important that it’s pronounced correctly by others.

Mispronunciation can be unintentionally – or worse, intentionally – hurtful, especially when a name is less common. Repeated mispronunciation and not taking the time to learn how to pronounce a name can quickly cross into exclusion. In a recent poll conducted by Race Equality Matters, 73% of respondents reported that their name had been mispronounced and that it made them feel ‘not valued or important’, ‘disrespected’ and ‘that they didn’t belong’.

To combat this, Race Equality Matters have launched the #MyNameIs campaign, a simple yet effective way of making sure everybody correctly pronounces people’s names. The #MyNameIs campaign encourages people to include the phonetic pronunciation of their name in their email signatures, name badges, online profiles (e.g, GCS Connect). Don’t worry if you don’t know the phonetic spelling of your name, as Race Equality Matters have developed a handy tool that spells your name phonetically.

Race Equality Matters found that 88% of respondents to their poll thought a phonetic name spelling campaign would help tackle race inequality, as it encourages education and understanding of how names are pronounced, instead of dismissing names as ‘hard to pronounce’.

Do the actions below to make a simple change which could have a big impact:

  1. Download, use and share the free #MyNameIs guide.
  2. Use the Fuh-Net-Ic Tool to create a phonetic pronunciation of your name and add to you email signature.
  3. Ask a colleague if you are unsure how to pronounce their name and make and make an effort to say it correctly going forward. Writing it phonetically for yourself can help.
  4. Encourage colleagues, employees, and your networks to do the same.
  5. Engage your organisation to implement #MyNameis.

For more information on the #MyNameIs campaign, visit the Race Equality Matters website.

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