Microsoft launches ‘inclusivity’ checker
Microsoft Word has started offering ‘politically correct’ alternatives to some words and expressions, but a new “inclusive language feature” has left many users unimpressed.
The tech giant announced last year that it was working “to remove non-inclusive language commonly found within the technology and cybersecurity sectors.”
In line with that goal, the latest version of Microsoft Word in Office 365 has an additional editor tool that suggests “more inclusive” alternatives to commonly used words and phrases that might offend someone in relation to gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. When the new function is used, any potentially offensive words, like all other ‘errors,’ are underlined, allowing the writer to fix them if they wish.
According to media reports, the new tool suggests, for example, replacing “mankind” with “humankind” or “humanity,” and offers to change “maid” to the genderless “house cleaner” and, in a similar vein, “mistress” to “lover.” It recommends using “principal” instead of “headmaster” and “workforce” in place of “manpower.”
The introduction of the feature has prompted some to complain on social media. “Microsoft says we need to say humankind instead of mankind so we don’t offend someone. Stop catering to them… These woke rules hurt us, never help us,” one person commented on Twitter.
“I am so sick of this damn ‘wokeness.’ I’m dropping Word,” another person tweeted.
Seemingly anticipating backlash, Microsoft said in a statement that it realized “not every Editor suggestion may be suitable for all users and all scenarios” and reminded users that the new feature was “completely optional” and could be used or not used at will.
This is not the first time the company has become an object of ‘wokeness’-related criticism. In November last year, Microsoft was mocked over footage of its virtual conference, Ignite 2021, that opened with senior managers introducing themselves using their gender pronouns.