3 Terms to Avoid in Your Westchester Workplace

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Support diversity, equity, and inclusion in your Westchester County workplace by steering clear of the following terms.

With language an increasing indicator of a company’s cultural adherence to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we asked a local human resources expert for her take on words you might want to avoid using at work and how to replace them.

Luba Sydor
Photo courtesy of Luba Sydor

According to Luba Sydor, the founder and CEO of White Plains-based executive-placement and recruitment firm Person2Person LLC, we can send the wrong signals or even unknowingly hurt coworkers when using certain words.

“Everyday language can be unconsciously biased. That’s because even though some common phrases are not intended to exclude, they can still have negative implications for people with certain backgrounds, ethnicities, abilities, or mental health conditions,” explains Sydor. “An inclusive environment not only ensures equitable access to resources and opportunities for all; it empowers individuals and groups to feel psychologically safe, respected, engaged, motivated, and valued.” In that spirit, Sydor rounds up five words it may be better to avoid, as well as how to replace them.

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“The problem with guys is that it is a masculine word. Applying the terms guys and you guys indiscriminately can end up excluding, ignoring, or creating dis comfort for some people — particularly women and nonbinary people. A better, gender-neutral choice can be friends, folks, or all.”

“Everyday language can be unconsciously biased.”
—Luba Sydor

Maternity Leave

“This term implies that only mothers or females care for children. Replacing it with parental leave or family leave acknowledges a broader variety of family situations and eliminates the assumption that only a mother will take time off for childcare. It’s not just maternity leave and paternity leave. It’s supporting the family with time and resources in order to create a shared space for childbearing.”


“The phrase grandfathered in — referring to someone or a business being exempt from new rules and allowed to continue operating as is — dates back to a 19th-century policy called the Grandfather Clause, which indirectly stopped Black Americans from voting by limiting eligibility to only those whose ancestors could vote. Use preapproved instead when referring to a group of customers or a policy. This avoids the problematic reference.”

Related: 3 DEI Courses You Can Take Online in Westchester County

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