This was the week in which Marks & Spencer announced that it was introducing staff pronoun badges across its 1,463 stores, as part of a diversity and inclusivity initiative that would allow them to choose whether to include “He/Him/His”, “She/Her/Hers” and “They/Them/Their” under their name. It’s fair to say that the idea didn’t meet with unbridled enthusiasm. This is a shame. It is not a bad idea, and certainly didn’t deserve the criticism it attracted on social media and in the comments sections of national newspapers. 

Regardless of your view, the story did open up an interesting debate about how people address each other. “Never mind what we call them: I just wish they’d stop calling me ‘love’ and ‘my darling’”, wrote one commenter. “Notwithstanding the wokeness of this, I wish staff wouldn’t call me ‘mate’”, added another. I sympathise. Over-familiarity can grate, and never more so than in an email from a complete stranger. I’ve lost count of the number of emails I’ve received from PRs that start “Hey Lovely,” or “Morning, my love”. 

Love, I don’t even know you. Call me by my name. Laborious as it must be to insert every journalist’s name in your missive, the effort is worth it. Even if it’s just an illusion, at the very least it makes the recipient believe it’s just for her. Or him. Or them. 

What Laura Thinks…

“This really caught my eye, big names and a strict embargo combined with a new collection made me read it.”


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