Tesla Forbids Use of Exclusionary Language in the Workplace Regardless of Intent

Tesla Forbids Use of Exclusionary Language in the Workplace Regardless of Intent

Photo courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla strives to satisfy not only its customers but also to create the best conditions for working at the company. Respectful communication is one of the ingredients for creating a supportive workspace, which is why Valerie Capers Workman, VP People at Tesla called on employees for excellence and respect.

Valerie Workman addressed employees with a memo "Back To The Office: Excellence & Respect," which was also posted on the company's blog. First of all, she thanked all Tesla employees for the hard work that leads the company to success and reminded them that the basic principles underlying it remain the same: excellence and respect.

In the workforce, Tesla is constantly building a culture that is safe, respectful, fair, and inclusive for all employees. Workman reminded everyone that some of the language that people use to show respect outside of work should never be used in the workplace. She talked about the fact that in many cultures there are certain words—epithets, slurs, and such—that were created with the full intent to demean, dehumanize, and create an imminent sense of danger and fear in the target. Over time, some of these words have been rebuilt and borrowed by the original target communities and turned into terms of endearment if used only by those in that community. This is for example the N-word, the B-word, and the Q-word.

Workman turned to her own experience, saying that she was called the N-word many times by people who intended to make her embarrassed and fear for her personal safety. At the same time, she also has experience of how this word is used by many in her community as a term of endearment, to convey the very height of respect or joy, or to punctuate their humor. However, this can be found in other marginalized groups, including women, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. "A group of women calling each other the B-word, those in the LGBTQ community referring to themselves as the Q-word, and on and on," writes Workman.

The fact that the same words carry both deeply negative and positive influences made Tesla look at this problem more deeply. The company wants to eliminate the occurrence of any contradictions in the team, and the discussion of where these words are acceptable and where they are not, as this detracts from the mission. Therefore, Tesla "expressly forbids all such slurs, epithets or derogatory expressions based on any characteristics a person may have. Regardless of intent. And per our longstanding policies, we will take immediate disciplinary action if we find that any employee has used these words towards anyone at our work locations."

Beyond Tesla's main mission, the company is focused to ensure that all employees receive a fair and inclusive workplace, regardless of background. This means that an exclusionary language, regardless of the intent of its use, should not be used in the workplace.

© 2021, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.


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Article edited by @SmokeyShorts, you can follow him on Twitter

About the Author

Eva Fox

Eva Fox

Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.

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