I have spent most of my life hearing my name butchered, though it eased up a bit when a certain famous actor had my first name as his last name. How can today's leaders embrace diversity if they can't even pronounce someone's name properly? LinkedIn just launched a simple solution: audio tags that allow connections to hear their name pronounced properly.
In retrospect, it's an obvious upgrade. In practice, it could actually help diversify your network in interesting ways--with or without LinkedIn.
Show respect for someone's given name
When Elon Musk and his partner, Grimes, named their baby X Æ A-12, pundits joked that people would know how to pronounce it perfectly by day's end, but still wouldn't take the time to say their Middle Eastern neighbor's name correctly. It reflects privilege, not only because Musk is a highly-revered entrepreneur, but he is also a white male, and the assumption is that he and his progeny should be respected enough to put in our effort.
Understanding one's name should be part and parcel of doing business. We Google someone, we check them out on social media, and we may read articles about their work. Learning how to say the name of a potential colleague, employee, or boss is part of the homework we should have been doing all along.
And show respect for someone's worth
I was just hosting a conference and, during a Q&A, I asked one of the participants how to pronounce their last name. They gave the right pronunciation, then gave a hearty "Thank you!", and then we moved on.
It took about five seconds.
LinkedIn audio tags aside, the pronunciation gesture is quick and easy compared to its relative impact. Have you ever been an hour into an interview and the other person politely interjects with, "I'm sorry, but my name is pronounced such-and-such"? I have, and it can derail the conversation well before you even realize it.
As we wake up to the amazingly diverse talent pool that's largely been untapped, we will have to make an even better effort to respect different people's culture, heritage, and perspective. That all begins with what one is called.
It's not a matter of perfecting someone's name, but putting the energy into trying--and that in itself shows respect.