Few things are more personal than your name. Maybe our fingerprints, but we aren’t as touchy about them (pun intended). If you are lucky enough to pronounce someone’s first name correctly, then good luck with their last name. In the U.S. alone, there are at least 151,000 different family names.
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Union Pacific has a new tool allowing employees to audibly record and phonetically spell names within the company directory.
“When sixth grade boys learned my name could be pronounced de-BRA, it was a long year,” said Debra Schrampfer, assistant vice president and Chief Diversity Officer. “It’s OK to snicker; I’m over it now. That said, I’m thrilled we are able to be more respectful as adults in the workplace.”
For those hearing impaired, the new phonetic feature is extremely helpful. And for those whose first language is not English, the audible recording is just as important.
This simple, yet critical tool allows employees to be inclusive. Nothing makes a team member feel more included, or more excluded, than how you say their name.
The idea for this new UP tool emerged after Courtney Coleman, senior director-Supplier Diversity, Supply Chain, made a vendor call and saw a need within the railroad community. The Diversity and Inclusion team worked with Kelly Cranor and Krystyn Kallhoff, managers-Technology Support, Workforce Resources, to create a simple, convenient option for railroaders systemwide.
“This project is a great example of how everyone can play a role in D&I,” Schrampfer said.