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Staff that look after Hampton Court are told not to tell a female colleague ‘you look so young’

Staff that look after Hampton Court are told not to tell a female colleague 'you look so young' 2

Charity staff that look after Kensington Palace and Hampton Court are told not to tell a female colleague ‘you look so young’ as they attend 45-minute ‘micro-aggression’ training session

  • Historic Royal Palaces is encouraging its employees not to use ‘wrong language’
  • The course acknowledges that ‘the speaker has no intention of causing offence’
  • Observers said it made serious points such as not belittling a racist comment

Staff at the charity that looks after Royal properties including Hampton Court and Kensington Palace have been advised that saying ‘You look so young’ to a female colleague is a ‘micro-aggression’.

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) is encouraging its employees not to use ‘the wrong kind of language’ and is requiring them to attend a 45-minute ‘introduction to micro-aggressions’ training session.

The online course acknowledges that ‘most of the time… the speaker has no intention of causing offence or pain’ but advises staff not to tell a woman, ‘You look so young.’

Staff at the charity that looks after Royal properties including Hampton Court (above) and Kensington Palace have been advised that saying ¿You look so young¿ to a female colleague is a ¿micro-aggression¿

Staff at the charity that looks after Royal properties including Hampton Court (above) and Kensington Palace have been advised that saying ‘You look so young’ to a female colleague is a ‘micro-aggression’

It adds: ‘Not only can this undermine your colleague’s authority, but it also assumes that the most desirable characteristics a woman can have are those linked to her appearance, rather than those linked to her skills and character.’

Similarly staff are advised not to tell a disabled colleague they are ‘inspiring’ because that person should be treated with the same respect as ‘non-disabled people’.

Commentators said the course made many serious points, such as not belittling a racist comment as a joke or refusing to learn a colleague’s name because it might be difficult to pronounce, but that social interactions should be judged according to each individual. 

Singer Elaine Paige, 74, star of hit musicals including Evita and Cats, said: ‘I think it’s perfectly fine to compliment someone on their appearance or the fact they might be of inspiration. How it can be construed as offensive or undermining a colleague I have no idea.’

Singer Elaine Paige, 74, star of hit musicals including Evita and Cats, said: ¿I think it¿s perfectly fine to compliment someone on their appearance or the fact they might be of inspiration'

Singer Elaine Paige, 74, star of hit musicals including Evita and Cats, said: ‘I think it’s perfectly fine to compliment someone on their appearance or the fact they might be of inspiration’

Dame Joan Bakewell, 89, said: ‘ “You look about 60” is a welcome remark when you’re over 80.’

Novelist Antonia Fraser, also 89, said she was at an age when she would appreciate the compliment: ‘Since I am about to be 90, I would be offended if they didn’t.’

HRP also wants its staff to avoid using sexist or gender-based language and has provided them with a 16-page guide, produced by the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion. 

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) is encouraging its employees not to use ¿the wrong kind of language¿ and is requiring them to attend a 45-minute ¿introduction to micro-aggressions¿ training session (Kensington Palace pictured)

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) is encouraging its employees not to use ‘the wrong kind of language’ and is requiring them to attend a 45-minute ‘introduction to micro-aggressions’ training session (Kensington Palace pictured)

It suggests that words such as ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ can be swapped for alternatives such as ‘human’ and ‘humankind’. And workers should ‘attend to’ rather than ‘man’ their desks.

Details of the course and the guide were obtained by this newspaper under Freedom of Information laws.

Jeremy Black, Emeritus professor of history at the University of Exeter, said: ‘Respect for people is nothing to do with formulaic folly like this. It is a matter of understanding individuals.’

An HRP spokesperson said the guides were for reference only, adding: ‘We are committed to creating a working culture where everyone feels valued and accepted.’

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