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Language for all: why our choice of words matter

Sometimes we use gendered language without even realising it. Finnair's language guidelines aim to use inclusive language that is accessible to everyone and avoids gendered labels.

Choosing a simple greeting can have a greater impact than one might think. “Hello, everyone” is a more inclusive option than “Dear ladies and gentlemen”. 

The language we use when we talk to each other is directly linked to how valued and accepted people feel.  At Finnair, we want to make sure that everyone feels welcome and appreciated on our flights and when working at Finnair or with Finnair people. We believe that the language we use is an important part of creating an inclusive work environment.

When you fly with us, you'll see that we put this into practice by being mindful of our language and making sure that everyone feels valued and seen.

Recommendations for a more inclusive language

We have developed gender-neutral language recommendations for English and Finnish to assist our staff. Their aim is to help us use language that is as inclusive as possible. The new guidelines give examples of what words can be used instead of gendered terms.

Some of these recommendations have been in place for some time. For example, in Finnish, we have long referred to cabin crew members instead of stewardesses. The same applies to English.

The recommendations not only cover separate words, but also provide guidance on pronoun usage. Pronouns are words we use to refer to people’s gender in conversation. We recommend using the pronoun “they” when referring to a person whose gender identity is unknown or irrelevant. For example, in a situation where a customer has left their bag in the overhead compartment, their gender is not relevant for getting the message across. In Finnish, this has never been an issue, as the Finnish pronoun “hän” has always been gender neutral. 

Learning together

The new language guidelines are recommendations, and they apply mainly to titles that refer to people. A snowman may still be snowman and you may still call your mothership. 

And if you accidentally call a cabin crew member a stewardess or refer to the flight deck as cockpit, there is no need to worry. We're all learning together, and it takes time to internalise new terms. So, don't also be surprised if “Dear ladies and gentlemen” comes out of our employee's mouths from time to time.

Our language guidelines aim to use inclusive language that is accessible to everyone and avoids gendered labels. This is part of Finnair’s social sustainability.

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