How it started… and how it’s going.

GoTitleFree is celebrating! – The campaign is four years old today and we are also celebrating the 50th download of our toolkits.

We are delighted that organisations and individuals are joining us on our quest to achieve a title free society and are reflecting today on the incredible work and journey which has brought us here. 

On the 21st September 2018, a letter mis-addressing me came through my door which started a ripple of irritation about how I had no identity when addressed using ‘Mrs’, followed by my husband’s initial, and my marital surname. 

The ripple became a huge wave of enthusiasm to research the unfairness and misrepresentation associated with marital status titles further, to search every corner of the world which exists without them, and to find a way to allow women and non-binary people who feel like me, to live title free. 

We have discovered so much, and had the pleasure of interviewing several marvellous supporters:

In the last four years, we’ve explored many avenues of the title free agenda. Discussing why Doctors should stop using the title outside of the professional world, which countries live a good life without them, and how ‘Miss’ and ‘Master’ set children off on an unequal road of unnecessary categorisation. 

We’ve published guidance on how titles are part of the weaponisation of language, and how everybody can be allies in the quest to realise a world without the ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Mr’ and ‘Ms’.

While working on our cause, we’ve discovered some truly brilliant campaigns whose work aligns with ours:

  • Include Mx is the Twitter campaign to get organisations to understand why ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Ms’ and ‘Mr’ are no longer enough to represent our diverse and rich world. 
  • Let Toys be Toys is the campaign to stop pointless gendering of toys, allowing dolls, toy vehicles and costumes to be seen as play options for all children. 
  • Let Clothes be Clothes is the campaign to stop making pink and blue baby clothes and replace gendered clothing with colourful, practical clothing for all children with positive messaging, pictures and slogans. 

We’ve produced a clear business case for organisations regarding going title free, by describing the huge challenges customer service teams face when working with people who may be misgendered or incorrectly judged based on their title. 

Our team has also run several online events circulating case studies of success, showcasing our toolkits which were launched in July, and giving further tips on achieving a gender inclusive workforce. 

The campaign has featured on BBC Woman’s Hour, in the Daily Mail Online, and in events by the Fawcett Society amongst many others.

Which businesses have we celebrated so far?

We are pleased to have congratulated the following organisations on removing all titles from their registration systems and forms:

  • AO.com
  • Cadbury World
  • Viking Direct
  • The Range
  • Hello Fresh
  • Denplan
  • Timpson

After 18 organisation consultations and a lot of success stories, we know we still have a long way to go. 

We often need to explain that we are not removing femininity by stating that female titles are unfair. We’re not against the institution of marriage by stating that women should not need to change their title when their husbands are not expected to. We’re also not against people using titles in reference to themselves. – the GoTitleFree campaign challenges businesses. We support and facilitate a world where businesses can move away from using gendered language and from forcing people to choose a title which may not represent a growing number of their customer base.

We are also still waiting for a school to go title free for us and to prove to their pupils that gender and marital status should not matter in the professional world. (Our Best Practice Guide covers more on how to achieve this without relying on ‘sir’ and ‘miss’)

Here are some of the statistics we have uncovered from our initial surveys and interviews, which studied a cross section of nearly 2000 people:

  • 68% of women said that organisations ‘fairly regularly’ or ‘very often’ got their title wrong when communicating with them.
  • 92% of non-binary people said that they felt titles were not necessary in any situation.
  • 71% of people surveyed by GoTitleFree said that they would be put off buying a product or service if they were addressed incorrectly.

So what is next for the GoTitleFree campaign?

  1. We will continue to celebrate any organisations we see which allow people to register, order products and services, communicate with them and work for them, to be title free. 
  2. We will continue to name and shame organisations who do not allow identity authenticity.
  3. We will continue to find areas of society which don’t use titles, to prove that a marital status title free world can and does exist.
  4. We will continue to support organisations on their journey to achieving positive change with gender inclusive language via our toolkits, guides and training. 
  5. We will take an active role in demanding improvements to the Equalities Act 2010 which should list marital status titles as sensitive information which cannot be gathered without reason under GDPR. 

How can you demonstrate support for the campaign?

  1. Sign our petition. This is something everyone can do, and helps us to build the business case for changing the Equality Act, GDPR law, and business behaviour. 
  2. Download our toolkits. We have created a special birthday discount for any employers who want to celebrate our 4th birthday – (Please use the code: GTFis4 when purchasing and make sure to claim by the 30th September!)
  3. Share – If you are following us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, please do share our posts amongst like minded people.
  4. Shop – You can buy items with the GoTitleFree logo and website on to raise awareness when you’re out and about every day.

We are thankful to all of our supporters and cannot wait for another year of campaigning and going title free!

Watch this space for details on our fifth birthday celebration, our Annual Report and our blog and video on sign language and titles.

Stella Sutcliffe

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