Last year, Pause signed up to Race Equality Matters’ campaign #MyNameIs. It’s a very simple campaign that is designed to demonstrate respect for the proper pronunciation of people’s names. It promotes inclusivity by highlighting individuality.
If someone has a name that people find difficult to pronounce, quite often what happens is:
- We pronounce the name incorrectly and the individual is then known by that ‘new name’
- We give a nickname, whether the individual likes it or not
- The individual gives a surrogate name, just to make things easier. For example, Abdullah becomes Jeff, or
- We simply don’t say their name.
Our names are intimately tied to our self-image and to who we are as individuals. So, by including the phonetic spelling of your name in your email signature and any other places your name might be written, no matter how easy or difficult your name is to pronounce, you are showing that you value the importance of pronouncing one’s name correctly. Hanisah Othman, our Peer Support Officer, has been using phonetics for years. She says:
“I have used phonetics to help people pronounce my name for years, purely out of necessity – it’s a hard name to get right first time! I really understand that, so for me, getting it right first time isn’t the important thing. What is important is the effort people make to ask how to pronounce it correctly and learn for next time. The #MyNameIs campaign is great because it reminds us how significant our names are: they are our identities, our cultures and our histories. Names can positively or negatively influence the trajectory of our lives. I hope the campaign encourages people to learn more about how names are perceived and the impact this can have on people’s outcomes. What might appear to be a small effort, makes a huge difference. After all, variety truly is the spice of life!”
Pause has signed up to the campaign and is encouraging people across the Pause network to include the phonetic spelling of their name in their signature. This is another small step towards our ambition to ensure that Pause becomes a safe, welcoming and respectful place for all. Jules Hillier, our Chief Executive, says:
“#MyNameIs is such a simple thing to do and I am so pleased that so many Pause people have signed up to the campaign. In one Practice, it prompted a conversation about the women that we work with and, as a result, we’re changing the forms we use when we introduce ourselves to a woman, so it includes a section on how to say her name correctly. Since I added my phonetic spelling to my email signature, several people from outside Pause have asked about the campaign and then taken it back to their own organisation, so I know it’s something that really resonates with people. I’m uncomfortable that I didn’t consider the importance of such a simple demonstration of respect before and grateful that it’s now part of our journey towards anti- racism.”
Let’s normalise adding phonetic spelling to email signatures!
Find out more about the #MyNameIs campaign here.
Blog by Fi Gilligan (fee gill-e-gan)