Google reportedly asked its employees to be "more conscientious" about the usage of the word "family" and to be more inclusive when using the term as "there are families without kids too."
This directive from Google's Vice President of Engineering Pavni Diwanji came after internal communications, accessed by right wing publication The Daily Caller, revealed that many employees took issues with the use of the word to only indicate a unit that had children.
The website, which claims to have viewed internal communications from an insider in the conglomerate’s California headquarters, says the trigger was a March 2017 presentation about a product aimed at young addult, where the term was used to indicate that all families have children.
One employee even stormed out of the presentation, and explained in an internal thread, that was viewed by the website, that the presenter “continued to show (awesome) Unicorn product features which continually use the word ‘family’ as a synonym for ‘household with children.'”
In an extended explainer, the employee said why linking families to children is “offensive, inappropriate, homophobic, and wrong.”
It further said that using family to mean children is a “diminishing and disrespectful way to speak” and asked people to use “kid friendly” instead of ‘family friendly” when targeting the specific demographic.
Furthermore, he said when these words become interchangeable, it sends the signal that, “you and yours don’t count as a family unless you have children,” and that there are children without families as well.
“Even the sense, ‘suitable for the whole family’, which you might think is unobjectionable, is totally wrong too. It only works if we have advance shared conception of what ‘the whole family’ is, and that is almost always used to mean a household with two adults, of opposite sex, in a romantic/sexual relationship, with two or more of their own children. If you mean that as a synonym for ‘suitable for all people,’ stop and notice the extraordinary unlikelihood of such a thought!
"So ‘suitable for the whole family’ doesn’t mean ‘all people’, it means ‘all people in families,’ which either means that all those other people aren’t in families, or something even worse. Use the word ‘family’ to mean a loving assemblage of people who may or may not live together and may or may not include people of any particular age. STOP using it to mean ‘children’. It’s offensive, inappropriate, homophobic, and wrong," the staff member wrote.
The backlash – which included upvotes from 100 other Google employees for the post - was large enough for the Google's VP of Engineering Diwanji to address it, and send a missive that the workplace should be more inclusive.
“Hi everyone, I realize what we said at tgif might have caused concerns in the way we talked about families. There are families without kids too, and also we needed to be more conscientious about the fact that there is a diverse makeup of parents and families,” Dwiwanji wrote in response, “Please help us get to a better state. Teach us how to talk about it in inclusive way, if you feel like we are not doing it well. As a team we have very inclusive culture, and want to do right in this area. I am adding my team here so we can have open conversation.”