Qantas faces accusations of going over the top with political correctness.
This came after staff were told to avoid the terms “mum” or “dad” and not to refer to the arrival of the British 230 years ago as “settlement”.
The airline also urged male staff to avoid interrupting women – an offence known as manterrupting, The Times reported.
The carrier’s 30,000 employees have been instructed that they should consider referring to Britain’s historical role as “colonisation”, “occupation” or “invasion”.
They have also been told not to describe people as “husbands and wives” or “mums and dads” in case this offends those who are not heterosexual.
Staff have also been warned that calling people “love” or “darling” risks causing offence, no matter how well intended.
The suggestions were included in an information package sent to employees before the airline’s Spirit of Inclusion month.
“Using the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ can reinforce the idea that people are always in heterosexual relationships,” it 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.”
Staff are instead encouraged to use the phrases “partner”, “spouse” or “parents”.
They are also advised to avoid using the terms “guys”, “love”, “honey” and “darling”, because even though these expressions are often used as terms of endearment they can offend.
The document warns staff to tread carefully when discussing Australian history and to “recognise [the] reality” that “Australia was not settled peacefully”.
Describing the arrival of Europeans as a “settlement” was a view of Australian history “from the perspective of England rather than Australia”, it says. “Instead of settlement, try ‘colonisation’, ‘occupation’ or ‘invasion’.”
Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, a frequent flyer, said that the airline was guilty of “political correctness that’s gone way over the top”.
According to the newspaper, he suggested that cabin staff were already sensitive to gender issues and other concerns of passengers, and did not need the advice.
“They are decent, sensitive people,” he said. “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. I think people can be incredibly precious about these things. I call a lot of people ‘mate’. Sometimes I might even say that to a girl.”
Abbott added: “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.”
The material was devised by the Diversity Council of Australia and similar information was provided to many of the council’s other 450 members. It said that it was not telling people what they could and could not say.
A spokesman said: “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.”
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