An umbrella group representing leading UK bankers has come under fire for its suggestions on how to avoid racially biased or discriminatory language in the finance industry. UK Finance, a lobby group representing British banks and financial-services firms, issued a guide that advises banks and financial institutions to refrain from using certain phrases and terms that could be offensive or discriminatory.
One of the phrases mentioned in the guide is the term ‘black market,’ which UK Finance argues is racist and should be replaced with the more neutral phrase ‘illegal market.’ The lobby group also suggests replacing the term ‘black hat,’ used in cyber security to refer to an unauthorized user on a network, with the term ‘unethical.’ Additionally, UK Finance recommends changing the term ‘sanity check’ to ‘functional test’ to avoid any implications of disability.
According to a spokesman for UK Finance, the guide was influenced by a report conducted in collaboration with Ernst & Young and Microsoft two years ago, which examined the issue of language in technology and cyber security. David Postings, the chief executive of UK Finance, emphasized the lobby group’s commitment to taking linguistic issues in society “extremely seriously.”
However, not everyone is supportive of these suggestions. Nigel Mills, a Tory MP, criticized the guide as “woke nonsense” and questioned whether the focus of bank bosses should be on the country’s economy instead.
This is not the first time that language in public discourse has come under scrutiny. Earlier this year, London Mayor Sadiq Khan faced criticism when he banned city staff from using gender-specific phrases such as ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ opting for more inclusive terms like ‘people’ or ‘Londoners’ instead.
The issue of inclusive language is not unique to the finance industry. It reflects a broader societal debate about the importance of using language that is respectful and inclusive of all individuals, regardless of their race, gender, or any other characteristic.
While the intentions behind UK Finance’s guide may be well-meaning, its suggestions have sparked a heated discussion about the role of language in finance and whether efforts to promote inclusivity should take precedence over other concerns in the industry. Critics argue that the focus should be on economic matters, while supporters argue that linguistic inclusivity is an essential part of creating a more equitable and inclusive society.
As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how the finance industry will navigate the delicate balance between avoiding discriminatory language and addressing the pressing economic challenges facing the UK and the world.