Scottish... 'Separated'? The term 'widows’ is triggering, says bank that owns Scottish Widows

18 March 2024, 08:32

Lloyds, which owns Scottish Widows, suggested in guidance that the  word widow is triggering
Lloyds, which owns Scottish Widows, suggested in guidance that the word widow is triggering. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The bank that owns Scottish Widows has urged staff not to use the word ‘widows’ because it might upset people.

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Lloyds has produced new literature for ‘inclusive language’ for staff which says the word ‘widow’ to describe a partner of someone who has died is ‘unnecessarily vivid’.

It may “trigger unwarranted personal memories of trauma,” the guidance adds. Staff are advised to say “separated” instead.

Lloyds, which issued the guidance, owns Scottish Widows, the life insurance and pensions firm that manages almost £200bn in assets.

The words in the guide were submitted voluntarily by Lloyds staff in a whiteboard-like interactive document after put forward by the bank’s ‘inclusion’ team.

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The phrase ‘guinea pigs’ - meaning people to be the first to test out an idea - “may not be inclusive of vegan colleagues,” the guide said because it could invoke imagery of cruel laboratory experiments.

Another frowned-upon phrase is ‘like a headless chicken’ as it is linked to the idea of slaughter of fowl in an abattoir.

“Sold down the river,” and “penetration testing” are also phrases that should not be used, the guide states.

The guide tells staff: “you may agree with some terms and disagree with others – that’s OK! You don’t have to adopt alternatives, though do explore why we recommend doing so and the urgency with which they are suggested”.

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesman said: “We continually look for ways to enable our colleagues to engage, debate and be collaborative. 

“The voluntary inclusivity tool is designed to be a self-moderated way for colleagues to explore how people may feel about different words and phrases. As is par for the course when crowdsourcing for ideas, some are better than others.”

The bank said it had no plans to change the name of Scottish Widows. A source said: “We are reviewing the tool to ensure that the phrases and words included are helpful to our colleagues.”

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