This Race Equality Week, two colleagues talk about their names and how to pronounce them.
Our names represent who we are and where we come from, and the #MyNameIs campaign encourages people to add phonetic spelling to their email signatures.
Why does it matter?
A recent poll found that 73% of people have their names mispronounced. Repeatedly pronouncing someone's name wrong can send the message that their name isn't important, making them feel undervalued, disrespected, and 'that they don’t belong'.
As we observe Race Equality Week, we encourage everyone to be intentional about embracing diversity. Let's be more aware of other cultures, educate ourselves, and try to pronounce names correctly. It's not just a matter of correctness; it's a gesture of respect and acknowledgment.
Motolani, Certitude’s Internal Communications Officer
My first name is Motolani, pronounced (Mo-torh-Lahnee) and it means ‘I am capable of amassing wealth’. I have around 10 names and each of these names have deep meanings. As someone from the Southwestern part of Nigeria in West Africa, Yoruba to be precise, we take our names very seriously. Our names are stories and blessings. They're dreams for the future.
In our culture, when a child is born, it is customary for the parents to name their child on the 7th day following the birth, this is done during what we call a naming ceremony – close family and friends are invited to witness the naming of the child, and to pray over the child, and it often ends with a celebratory feast to welcome the child into the world. My names reflect the religious beliefs and appreciation for divine blessings that are deeply ingrained in Nigerian culture, which I am very proud of.
Having moved away from home over 10 years ago, I've encountered the challenge of people mispronouncing my name. Initially, it bothered me, but with time, I learned to live with it, occasionally shortening it for the sake of convenience. I've witnessed people attempting to pronounce my name correctly, considering the linguistic challenges, and I appreciate their efforts.
It's not just about right or wrong; sometimes, it's about asking the right questions and making a little extra effort to make someone feel valued. When people make the effort to pronounce my name correctly, I hear a message loud and clear: 'I see you, I respect you, and you matter.'
Aisling, Certitude’s Chief Executive
For the first two decades of my life, I was wholly accustomed to my name being pronounced correctly and in full, rolling off everyone’s tongues with ease and familiarity. Aisling (an old Irish word meaning dream or vision) was quite common in Ireland, where I grew up, and there were at least two other Aislings in my year at school.
I then came to live and work in London and soon got used to my name being referred to as one of ‘those’ hard to say Irish names – this was often accompanied by an attempt to pronounce a number of ‘those’ other Irish female names (some funnily enough the names of my sisters). Before long I was answering to Ashley or Azeling and simplest of all Ash and while, to be honest, this didn’t bother me hugely it always felt better, more valuing somehow when I heard my name pronounced correctly.
In Certitude people have always made the effort to pronounce my name correctly and I have now added my phonetic spelling to my email signature – such a simple revelation. A lovely colleague realised recently that he had in fact been pronouncing my name incorrectly for over 10 years - the opportunity never seemed quite right to point this out to him!
Sometimes it is the simplest things that can make a difference to how we make someone feel – and I now realise I can make this easier too by adding my phonetic spelling to my emails, etc. I also find Google pronounce a great help if I am not sure how to pronounce someone’s name – but it’s always worth checking with the person that you have got it right!
Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
Certitude aspires to be the best social care employer in London, as recognised by colleagues, families and people we support. Having a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion is an important part of this aim.
Certitude Celebrates Black History Month
This October we celebrate Black History Month in a special event for our colleagues at Certitude.
Take Action Make Impact
National Inclusion Week provides a great opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in creating inclusive workplaces but also where we need to act and have more impact.
Celebrating Achievements of Black People in the UK
Lavern Dinah, from Certitude’s Intercultural Network, talks about Black History Month