The ethics of language... what would you do?

Thursday 22 April, 2021
by Jodi O'Callaghan

You have recently joined a large bank, working as a communications advisor in the corporate affairs team.

The organisation is going through a transformation and there have been a number of redundancies which seem to be targeted at those who have been there for 10 to 15 years. The manager of your team has been there for 10 years and seems to set the tone for the culture of the team.

Although you’ve only been there a short amount of time, you’ve already noticed the culture of the team is not aligned with the bank’s culture or values, particularly around language. From a communications perspective, the language used in employee communications is professional but within the team your manager uses words such as:

  • “Girls” when referring to women;
  • Encouraging those who are less outspoken in meetings to “have the balls” to speak up and contribute;
  • And to those who offer alternate ways of doing things in a discussion to “toe the line”.

It makes you feel uncomfortable but seems to be accepted within the team and when you raise it with a colleague who has also been there for a number of years, they don’t seem bothered.

What would you do?

We challenge you to create a healthy discussion with your colleagues and post a comment below. You could even encourage them to consider taking The Banking and Finance Oath!

Please share your ethical dilemmas with us - we can post them anonymously. You can email your dilemmas to dilemma@thebfo.org

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

The Oath

  • Trust is the foundation of my profession.
  • I will serve all interests in good faith.
  • I will compete with honour.
  • I will pursue my ends with ethical restraint.
  • I will help create a sustainable future.
  • I will help create a more just society.
  • I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same.
  • I will accept responsibility for my actions.

In these and all other matters;
My word is my bond.

The Vision

A banking and finance industry that meets the community’s needs and has its full confidence thereby fulfilling its integral role in society.