Scottish Widows staff told not to use the word ‘widow’ as it triggers some customers

Scottish Widows’ famous advert
Scottish Widows’ famous advert

Lloyds Bank has advised staff to avoid using the word “widow” because it might upset some customers.

Britain’s biggest lender, which owns insurer Scottish Widows, has an “inclusive language” guide for 57,000 workers to avoid everyday terms in case they cause offence.

Phrases and colloquialisms deemed unacceptable include “headless chicken”, “lost in translation” and “sold down the river”.

The banking giant also says use of “guinea pig” might upset vegans because it’s associated with “experimentation on non-human animals”.

The word widow could “trigger unwarranted personal memories of trauma and upsetting situations”, the bank has warned - even though subsidiary Scottish Widows is one of the world’s most recognised brands, managing assets totalling almost £200 billion.

The insurer’s TV advert featuring a woman in a black hood and flowing cape has been aired since the mid-1980s.

Lloyds has no plans to rename Scottish Widows, which it bought in 2000.

Mark Brown, of the BTU trade union, which represents some of the bank’s workers, said: “The more we allow people to claim they have been offended because they disagree with the use of certain words or phrases, the more they will seize the opportunity to be offended.”

He added: “Is this kind of nanny-state approach to language going to make things better or worse in Lloyds?

“Lloyds is engaged in the most hypocritical form of virtue-signalling. If it really believed in the use of inclusive language, then it would change the Scottish Widows brand name immediately.”

Lloyds Banking Group said the idea is not being imposed on colleagues.

A spokesman added: “We continually look for ways to enable our colleagues to engage, debate and be collaborative.

“The voluntary inclusivity tool is designed to be a self-moderated way for colleagues to explore how people may feel about different words and phrases.

“As is par for the course when crowdsourcing for ideas, some are better than others.”

Scottish Widows, established in 1815 to support women and children who lost their male relatives in the Napoleonic War, has more than six million customers today.