Yorkshire Building Society (York-sher bill-ding so-si-it-ee) has launched a new tool to help colleagues pronounce names correctly as part of its continued commitment to an inclusive workplace.

The mutual has introduced a digital pronunciation tool to phonetically generate the spelling of a name which can then be added to email signatures and intranet profiles. Colleagues also have access to further support that allows them to hear how a name is spoken.

Rupinder Sohal, assistant product manager at the Society, prompted the Ethnicity colleague network to host a discussion based on the importance of pronouncing names correctly. Colleagues shared a number of personal experiences, and the group became the driving force for change across the Society.

She said:

Hearing the colleague network discussion really brought home how many people – from all walks of life, heritage and backgrounds – quietly struggle with the impact of their name being mispronounced.

I’ve previously heard a young child correct an adult on the pronunciation of my child’s name and it made me question why we as adults don’t challenge or correct people in the same way. We discussed this and other personal experiences and quickly looked at ways we could make simple changes to remove any perceived barriers and create a more inclusive workplace, and I’m so pleased we’ve been able to make it happen.

To launch the initiative, all colleagues at the Society have been encouraged to phonetically spell their name and have been provided with further materials to help start the conversation across the organisation.

Tina Hughes, sponsor of the Ethnicity Network at Yorkshire Building Society, said:

Many people will be able to relate to meeting or speaking to someone for the first time, unsure of how to pronounce or tell someone their name, and the uncomfortable feeling that can provoke on both sides.

We know from listening to our colleagues that this is much wider than the workplace – we’ve heard from people who have felt the need to shorten or create new names in childhood and throughout their careers to avoid any prejudice – it shouldn’t take courage or bravery for people to use their real name in any part of life.

What we can do though at Yorkshire Building Society is continue to build on the great progress we’ve made for a more inclusive culture, and initiatives such as the new phonetic tool will go some way to ensuring existing and future colleagues can always feel confident being their true selves at work.