No more guys


While working with the Kaiser Permanente National Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Team, one of the team members told the team that she is committing to no longer using the word ‘guys’ to describe a group of people that is comprised of women and men. A diversity team, perhaps more than any other team, needs to be the change they want to see in the world.

That hit me. I use ‘guys’ while working with teams all the time and have for 20 years. And over the last year, it’s felt more uncomfortable – especially if I’m addressing a group of women with no ‘guys’ in sight.

So that moment I committed as well. I want my impact to be positive. And while I harbor no conscious ill intent using that word, it’s impact that matters to others, not intent.

This is how change happens:

  1. Lack of awareness
  2. Awareness that is built up in the background over time
  3. Contemplation but not action
  4. Epiphany (often accompanied by excitement and/or remorse)
  5. Decision to change
  6. Make the change public. She did to her team. And I’m doing it with you, my team.
  7. Conscious, persistent action
  8. Change sticks sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t.
  9. Play the change – try, fail, learn, try again.
  10. Stay in the game no matter what
  11. Change is internalized. It’s now unconscious level and happens naturally without any additional effort.

So what’s the new word? I’m going with team or everyone for now. I’ll keep playing with it.

Like all change, it’s awkward at first, and takes more energy. The longer a day with a team is, the more likely I’ll be to unconsciously say ‘guys’. And it’s no big deal if I do.

But I will persist, and over time the conscious change will be engrained unconsciously.

Where are you in the change cycle with what you’re trying to change?

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