Train company encourages staff to drop ‘ladies and gentlemen’ in favour of more gender-inclusive language

LNER says it is ‘committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities’

Helen Coffey
Friday 14 May 2021 11:10 BST
A LNER rep on social media said no one ‘should feel excluded’
A LNER rep on social media said no one ‘should feel excluded’ (Simon Calder)

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Louise Thomas

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A rail company in the UK has encouraged its staff to use more gender-inclusive language onboard services.

LNER is going to look at whether the greeting “ladies and gentlemen” should continue to be used by employees, reports The Telegraph.

The move followed a complaint from a non-binary passenger, who said in a social media post: “‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…’ As a non-binary person this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me, so I won’t listen.”

LNER’s Twitter account responded that train managers “should not be using language like this”.

They added: “I thank you for bringing it to my attention. Please could you let me know which service you are on and I will ensure they remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER.”

The operator’s customer service agent clarified on Twitter that the train manager involved in the incident would face no disciplinary action, but added: “We're hoping to remind people to use gender neutral language to include all.”

They responded to one user, who complimented the company for its allyship: “Thank you. We as a business, and myself as an employee will never stop fighting for equality,” and later said that greeting “with no gender mentioned” would be preferred, because “as a business we do not accept that anyone should feel excluded”.

Non-binary user Jarley commented on Twitter: “I’m so pleased and impressed with @LNER’s tweets over the last 24 hours. I’ve been *super* critical in the past when they’ve gotten this same issue completely wrong, and it’s only fair now to say how well they’re doing. This is what growth and allyship looks like.

“Please keep up the great work. We won’t change things overnight, but together we can work towards a better, more inclusive and more accessible rail network for all. Other operators: please take note!

“It costs nothing to be kind.”

An LNER spokesperson told The Independent: “We are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities, and encourage our onboard teams to welcome all customers onboard.

“Our policies and procedures are reviewed regularly and we will review if any further changes need to be made.”

If LNER officially adopted gender-inclusive language it would be far from the first transport provider to do so.

In 2019, Air Canada banned staff from addressing passengers as “ladies and gentlemen” when making onboard announcements in an effort to be more gender inclusive.

Standard practice had been for passengers to be greeted with “ladies and gentlemen” or “mesdames et messieurs”.

The Canadian national carrier updated its official phrasing to address customers with “hello everyone” or “tout le monde”.

“We will be amending our onboard announcements to modernise them and remove specific references to gender,” said a spokesperson.

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