So some firms are saying letâs not bother with titles at all â they get rid of them altogether. Try hard to find the hiring managerâs name, as thatâs the ideal way to address a cover letter. Professional support lawyer Rachel Farr, whose firm Taylor Wessing is receiving increasing numbers of enquiries about gender-neutral documents, also thinks gender-neutral language is not imprecise. Dear Sirs (Gender Neutral in Business Writing?) The newer term "Mx" avoids specifying gender for: I honestly don't see the problem with it, it's just an empty phrase that's become convention. We run PDC training seminars, conferences and networking events for our members. I wouldnât use this term if I were not sure who I am speaking to. For example, Clause 11.2 of the NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract reads: (2) Completion is when the Contractor has, â¢ done all the work which the Works Information states he is to do by the Completion Dateâ¦. It would be very unkind,â says Reese. But the battle against gender-neutral language is surely a losing cause, reports Melanie Newman. Dear Sir/Madam IS gender-neutral - it lists both of the most common genders. However, this greeting is not gender-neutral and was mostly used when men dominated management positions. The contrary argument is that discrimination on the basis of biology occurs regardless of gender identity and that obscuring data on sex would do a disservice to a larger number of female staff. But in both the UK and The United States, this greeting is considered borderline offensive and sexist (because itâs unclear whether the writer is addressing a man or a woman). In the UK the firm will now address all communications to “Dear Sir or Madam”, while in the US all correspondence will start with “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen”. âSo if you are using unnecessarily gendered language you are going to be upsetting a large chunk of your workforce.â. He called on each man who had a question by saying, "Sir," but he called on me with merely, "Yes." What happens if the transgender man who gives birth feels discriminated against as a result of the pregnancy? If it’s an organisation, then we currently use ‘Dear Sirs’ as that remains the accepted standard. All staff should be trained never to assume the gender of a personâs partner until they have used a gender pronoun from which a cue can be taken, she adds. In 2017 HSBC announced it was offering customers a choice of nine titles, including âMâ, âMiscâ, an abbreviation of miscellaneous, and âMreâ, which stands for âmysteryâ. Iâve been in practice since October (4 months) and have already received at least 10 correspondences addressed to âMr. Putting 'dear sir/ma'am' at the beginning of a letter is preferred over 'To Whom it May Concern' (the latter is considered rude in recent times), but sir/ma'am language assumes gender binaries and such. Beyond that, letâ¦ This is why our blog post recommends avoiding salutations such as âDear Sir or Madam,â âDear Mr. Smithâ or âDear Ms. Brownâ in correspondence: âThe problem with these formulas is that a non â¦ âItâs very complicated. Use of male pronouns to apply to both sexes was potentially confusing, he argued, and could be seen as reinforcing gender stereotypes. We learn in school to write letters and addressing them with Dear Mr.,Ms., or Mrs. depending on your audience. @Graham even that page, which is a guide to rather dated formal conventions, says "'Dear Sir' is technically the correct form". People do not tend to use titles, or want them.â. But have their priorities changed? Strawâs plans were not well received by then MP for Maidstone and the Weald, Ann Widdecombe, who retorted: âA chair is a piece of furnitureâ¦ all he is doing is distorting the English language, and I would have thought he had better things to do.â. It sounds simple. Even parliament continues to use ‘he’ in legislation, the assumption being that that will refer to everyone. By writing âDear Sirsâ, some lawyers feel they are holding out against political correctness. Global Butterflies advises law firms on use of titles by receptionists and other staff, recommending an end to gendered forms of address such as âsirâ and âmadamâ. - Quora. In just over a fortnight the Brexit transition period ends. âThe lord chancellor cannot change their own designation under the 2003 act mentioned above,â says Small. Meanwhile debates currently raging online about when and whether a personâs biological sex, rather than their gender, should be considered relevant are already spilling into the legal profession. Brexit and Covidâ19 are posing major legal challenges for the UKâs vibrant pharmaceutical industry, but the government is keeping lawyers guessing. If you do not feel comfortable using a gender-specific personal title like "Sir" or "Ms.", just use their full name. âYou should know your client well enough to make them comfortable to indicate a preference if it is not obvious.â. And third, it's vague and a bit lazy. Is there a gender-neutral way of saying "Dear Sir" in a formal letter? While the British usage of the term stays âDear Sir or Madamâ. Elsewhere things are starting to change, though the pace is slow. If the gender is unknown, people should address it with a gender neutral noun. I received this question about a gender-neutral way to say sir or maâam in English via the âAsk Danâ section of the website: Dan. One of Britain’s most prestigious law firms has banned the use of “Dear sirs” from all of its legal documents and communications, apparently the first of the “magic circle” of top City legal companies to do so. Designed to give members efficient, easy access to high quality courses. Client requests for gender-neutral documents sometimes turn out on further enquiry to mean âgender-specificâ, she adds. By writing âDear Sirsâ, some lawyers feel they are holding out against political correctness. Garrood recommends keeping language as gender-neutral as possible, in document drafting and in the firm generally. A further example can be found at Clause 13.4. Technically "he" can be used in a gender-neutral sense and it historically has been. However, the Oxford English Dictionary recognises the long-established use of âtheyâ as a singular pronoun, and historical documents show it has been used in this way for centuries. âWe are getting statistics from the US that suggest 12% of the workforce is non-binary,â she says. Irrespective of what happens in the case Reese says there is likely to be a move away from the language of âmotherâ and âfatherâ in parental leave policies and other documents towards, for example, âperson carrying the childâ and âperson not carrying the childâ. Second, this greeting may not be reflective of the recipient's gender. Not if it is drafted correctly, says Iain Drummond, partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP. Gender pay reporting legislation requires larger employers to publish annual calculations showing the pay gap between âmenâ and âwomenâ on their staff. Endings I think my father is correct that these should be on the formal side. News focus: 'Wreckers' absent from human rights review panel, The Life and Strange Adventures of Bishopsgate Crusoe, Solicitor, News focus: Post-Beckwith, SRA must focus on 'what matters to clientsâ, PII: Now is the time to act for spring renewals, The fallacy of the homeworking revolution, Slashed budgets put junior lawyers in frame for GC posts, Prince Charles tells GCs: you must act on climate change, Lawyer in the news: Aston Luff, Hodge Jones & Allen, My legal life: Charlotte Bradley, Kingsley Napley, Find out more about the benefits of membership. Perhaps we can get in into the dictionary to officially bring a gender-neutral âsir/maâamâ into existence. Certainly the people drafting the contracts were all male until women were permitted to join the professions [from] 1919.â. Except, of course, in the US where you are going to say âDear Ladies and Gentlemenâ as if you are about to commence some kind of oratory. âThe problem is there is no rulebook on this.â. But these terms are not defined, leaving firms to decide how â and if â to apply them to staff who define as non-binary or are trans, but do not have a gender-recognition certificate. The gender-neutral equivalent really should be Dear Sirs and Mesdames; the formulation Ladies and Gentlemen that people sometimes use has (to me, anyway) an air of the circus tent to it (Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! In a House of Lords debate that year he cited examples of âappalling draftingâ such as âthe claimant or their partner is a personâ, and âan adult who is not the claimantâs partner if they are part of the claimantâs Extended Benefit Unitâ. âItâs usually an older employee who says they like using âsirâ and âmadamâ. This article is more than 4 years old. You are correct: the salutation âDear Sir or Madamâ is not gender inclusive. Get jobs by email. What now for the legal profession? âDropping litter is an offenceâ, rather than âA person commits an offence if he drops litterâ. Greeting and interacting with customers is the most important thing I do. It should be avoided for a few reasons: First, today's digitally connected world makes it easier than ever to find out who you're emailing. Poor grammar is one of the primary reasons that cover letters are rejected. âLGBT+ people, myself included, can find this pretty uncomfortable,â she explains. She goes so far as to say lawyers should reject documents presented to them for signature if the traditional masculinised approach has been used. A gender neutral title is a title that does not indicate the gender of the person being formally addressed, such as in a letter or other communication, or when introducing the person to others. The problem with that is that Dear Sirs is not only gender-specific but also old-fashioned. The Office of the Parliamentary Counselâs drafting guidance includes three techniques for avoiding gender-specific pronouns: Repeat the noun or substitute it with a letter: âEarnings, in relation to a person, means sums payable to the person in connection with the personâs employment.â, âIf a person (âPâ) who is registered in respect of a regulated activity carries on that activity while Pâs registration is suspended, P is guilty of an offence.â. In the UK the firm will now address all communications to âDear Sir or Madamâ, while in the US all correspondence internally and to clients will start with âDear Ladies and Gentlemenâ. I still get referred to as ‘Mr Sam Smethers’ by the media, despite being the chief executive of a women’s charity. Freshfields’ joint managing partner Chris Pugh said: “It’s a relatively small change, but it’s a significant point and you notice that when everyone immediately accepts that the change needs to happen.”“I hope it will shed light on other things that we might inadvertently be doing that risk alienating people we communicate with - not only people at Freshfields but clients and other professionals as well.”, Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, the UK’s largest charity for women’s rights, said the change was long overdue. Browse over 5,000 law jobs. Opinion is divided, reports Marialuisa Taddia. It brings you quick, access to the library catalogue and value added legal information sources. As lawyers and their clients get to grips with this fast-changing world they may start longing for the days when the use of âtheyâ as a singular pronoun was controversial. Please click here to read about how we process your data in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). He points to the NEC Contracts, a suite of standard contracts widely used within the construction industry. Gender-inclusive writing, which avoids references to gender whenever possible, is increasingly becoming standard practice in correspondence. We represent and support our members, promoting the highest professional standards and the rule of law. Update 2: I actually prefer Sir/Madam to "To whom it â¦ If they are an individual then it depends on their gender and title. âA person who practises without a permit commits an offenceâ, rather than âA person commits an offence if he practises without a permitâ. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has stopped using the phrase from this weekend. âBut there are no âno-go areasâ in the British constitution: the constitution is what parliament says it is. Apparently managing partner Chris Pugh said: Inadvertently? Around fifty ago, Dear Sirs would be appropriate to use since it was considered a formal way to greet multiple people who you don't know, such as writing to a company. As a female graduate student, I attended a talk at my university by a tech executive. The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel offers drafting guidance including three techniques for avoiding gender-specific pronouns. If the reply is not acceptance, the Project Manager states the reasonsâ¦, âThere was no need for the use of âhimâ âheâ and âhisâ in NEC3, which makes an assumption that the relevant person â the contractor or project manager â is male,â says Drummond. City of London law firms still use the male form of address as standard. Thatâs going to upset someone who is trans or non-binary so why not just ask for their name and use that?â But some law firms have âkicked backâ on that. Top City law firm unveils plans to use AI to purge 'gendered language' including 'he', 'she' and 'chairman' from ALL its legal documents. Will Covid-19 revolutionise the market for commercial property, or just accelerate existing trends? We should be looking at gender neutral language for our legislation too.”, Law firm Withers said the male address was “accepted standard”. Update: Normally I would write Dear Sir, but it's going to an office where I think they are all or mostly women (the local council). Dear Casey Yates, This is an example of a gender-neutral way to address a recipient. âIt would be pretty crude if a law firm said you are technically male, so weâll just tick that. âYouâve got people looking at someone and saying âhello sirâ. Jane B Kulow: May 26, 1997 12:00 AM: Posted in group: ... (I am told that Dear Sirs/Madams tends to make a >feministic "statement" which I prefer to avoid) (and I agree) > For some years I've used "Dear Sir or Madam" and have never felt I was We have to think about the language we use as it reveals the assumptions and decisions being made. Is that the kind of inadvertent alienation weâre talking about? Eduardo Reyes reports. by LawFuel Editors December 12, 2020, 12:53 am 365 Views Equivalents in Cantonese, Mandarin and European languages have also been agreed across Freshfields’ global network. But the rapid social changes surrounding individual gender identities may soon force firms to deal with far knottier issues. Others truly mean gender-neutral, often because they want template documents that can be applied to the whole workforce with minimal amendments. For instance, I have heard a lot of "sir" in Silicon Valley start-up culture, without a female or gender-neutral equivalent. âDear Sir, No Moreâ â Clifford Chance Uses Robots To Gender Neutralise Its Legal Documents An AI tool is used by the Big Law firm to purge its documents of sexist language. âIt means you have to decide, often in your very first seconds of contact with a business, whether or not you are prepared to âoutâ yourself.â. the greatest show on earth!). The Solicitors Regulation Authority has come under fire for not specifically asking practitioners to specify their sex in a survey of the professionâs diversity. For example, Ladies and Gentlemen makes it sound as if one is writing to a group of individuals. Clause 11.2 in the updated NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract reads: â¢ done all the work which the Scope states is to be done by the Completion Dateâ¦. Reader M has a question about gender-neutral namesâ¦ I am a new practicing attorney with a gender-neutral name. She prefers her firm to be addressed as: âDear Cartridges Lawâ, âDear Solicitorsâ or âDear Lawyersâ. The clients of City law firms can begin to plan for life after Covid-19. âThis is particularly important when their relationship is at the centre of their enquiry, for example when they ring solicitors for advice about a separation.â. Solicitors pointed out on social media that sex is one of the protected characteristics stipulated by the Equality Act 2010 and that failing to collect this data would make it more difficult to determine whether firms are discriminating on this ground, or to compare with previous years. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer would now use âDear Sir or Madamâ in UK correspondence and âDear Ladies and Gentlemenâ in the US, it said, with equivalents in other languages used in the firmâs international offices. âThe gendered terms âmotherâ and âfatherâ may not make any sense any more.â. That doesn't mean it's anything other than a stupidly bad idea to do so in modern writing. Words such as âchairmanâ were too often used for offices open to either sex and should be outlawed, he added. Avoid âDear Sir or Madamâ because itâs impersonal, outdated, and not gender inclusive.