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#PR Rant: Will the 'Ban Bossy' Campaign Derail PR?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has joined up with Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Girl Scouts of America in a public service campaign titled “Ban Bossy.” This is according to Matthew Schwartz, who writes columns for PR News for Smart Communicators. In his latest entry (March 11, 2014) titled How the New #Banbossy Movement Could Impact Communications, he notes:

“Workplace communications is a living, changing thing. But there are terms that are universally viewed as pejorative, and one of them is the word 'bossy.'

“...Now, how many of us have used 'bossy' to describe a supervisor or colleague? Be honest. The thing is, more often than not, the word is directed at women who are in leadership roles.

“The goal of the 'Ban Bossy' campaign, which launched on Monday and is trending today [on] social channels, is to help girls and women feel more confident and comfortable as leaders. A new website, banbossy.com, provides tips for parents, kids, teachers, managers and others about how to encourage young female leaders.”

Schwartz concludes his column by saying:

“The public service campaign could also inspire PR pros and other communicators to look into how they might change the culture in their own workplaces.

“That will require a deft and subtle hand, for sure. But, at the least, PR pros can gauge whether there’s an appetite in-house to have a transparent conversation about certain words that people use without even thinking and how their repeated use may, in the long run, contribute to low morale and discourage employees from wanting to stay at the company or organization.

“Depending on the corporate culture and the level of diversity, this may be a case where over-communicating may not be such a bad idea.”

What do you think? Would banning use of the word “bossy” help everyone? If so, what would you replace the word with? And, how can PR pros help lead the charge?


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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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