Inclusive Salutations

Today I received an email blast with the salutation “Gents:” at the beginning.

Um, I’m not exactly a “Gent,” and I don’t think the other ladies listed as recipients are, either.

I was more surprised than offended, but let me hop up on my soapbox here for a minute.

The oil business has been the bastion of the Good Ol’ Boys for many decades,

but we’re trying to recruit more women into the industry.

I think the gentle gender’s communication skills and preference for cooperation over competition would serve the oil industry well, particularly with today’s focus on multidisciplinary teams and documentation of lessons learned.

Back in the day, I broke a glass ceiling at the Society of Petroleum Engineers by being the first woman ever to be appointed Review Chairman over the Technical Editors in the Peer Review Committee.

Back then, SPE sent form letters to the Review Chairmen with the salutation “Gentlemen:” –

and I asked them to change it to “Dear Review Chairmen.”

I didn’t insist on “Chairperson,” as “Chairman” was the official job title for that volunteer position.

But that was back in 1989; this is 2010, a whole new millennium.

I would suggest that professionals in the modern, multicultural environment should use a more inclusive salutation in their business correspondence than “Gents”, such as “Colleagues” or “Team Members,” or “Ladies and Gentlemen.”

Unless, of course, you ascertain that every person listed in the TO:, CC: and BCC: address boxes are indeed “Gents.”

We Good Ol’ Gals want to feel included as bona fide members of the team, too.


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