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Dear SAP, Just Call Me Jelena

Folks,

As some of you might know, I was born in the USSR, the country that no longer exists. Among few things the communist system got right (like free healthcare and education) was the common salutation: comrade (товарищ). Because it is gender-neutral, we could address any person “comrade <name>” without hesitation and it would be perfectly acceptable in any social situation. Simple!

In English language, salutation is the whole different story. A man can be addressed as Mister/Mr. A woman can be addressed Miss/Ms, but if she is lucky enough to score a husband then she gets upgraded to Missis/Mrs. Then there is also “Dr”, which could be both male and female (apparently still a surprise to some folks). Moving up the ladder, there is “Sir” and “Madam” and so forth. Not so simple.

Now I hope it’s not news to anyone but there are also transgender people and those who are simply not eager to associate themselves with either gender or salutation. For full disclosure, I am a straight female but even when I see a salutation field on a form my reaction is: none of your business.

To its credit, SAP Community does not require one to pick any gender nomination. Salutation choice is not part of the registration and that’s how it should be. But there are still parts of the SAP kingdom which seem to be keen on requesting a choice of salutation (and, by association, a gender assignment). While in some places, such as registering an account for SAP CAL, the salutation choice is at least optional, when requesting a license key for ABAP Trial system, it is a required field. And, to add insult to injury, the women are not even getting the “husband upgrade”. Hashtag smh.

SAP CAL account registration

Registration form when requesting ABAP Trial license

Despite having to make these choices, I do not actually recall receiving any communication from SAP addressing me “Ms. Jelena Perfiljeva”. Who knows what they even do with that information? Run a market analysis on gender-based demand for ABAP trial systems? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As I learned years ago from a Dale Carnegie Institute course, the sweetest sound to any person is their name. So, dear SAP, please, just call me Jelena. Simple!

Enforcing, or even including salutation choice for an online account, feels like a relic of the past. It adds little to no value while annoying some people and, I imagine, causing great deal of discomfort to other. Let us drop the formalities and move on with the times. This June, as we celebrate The Pride Month in the US, I can’t think of a better occasion to call:

Comrade Bill McDermott, tear down this salutation wall!

7 Comments
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  • Very nice blog comrade Jelena. I agree the salutation is a legacy from the past and if we can get genderless voice on Siri, maybe it’s time to add a few more options in the drop down or even better get rid of it all together.

  • Hi Jelena, nice post! I like that you mentioned Dale Carnegie. I have taken a Dale Carnegie course also, and learned many things that have helped me break out of my comfort zone and build strong genuine relationships. I think making a point to learn someone’s name and call them by it, rather than trying to get a specific salutation correct, would mean a lot more to that person as well!

  • Such a great post.  And even on a different level.  I have relatives that are quickly becoming school teachers.  I debated with them.  Why do you as a child call someone Ms/Mrs/Mr…  Then the teacher’s name.  When we get to the “real” world, you basically call everyone by their name.

    HA!  Maybe I’ll show this blog to them.

    • Seriously. Schools, of all places, should be switching to “comrade”. 🙂 I’m guessing with the teachers it’s some sort of an authority/power thing. Although at work a CIO has probably more power over the employees than a teacher over students yet we still just call him Phil or, um, “that CIO guy”. 🙂