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Many legal contracts are gender-biased

Rafie Faruq, CEO - Genie AI

Businesses are increasingly focused on improving their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion support. However, all too often they fall at the first hurdle through the use of gendered terms within contracts. That’s according to recent data, which found that 63% of contracts between 2017-2022* still use gendered terms.

From simple pronouns such as ‘he’ or ‘his’ to more formal titles like ‘Salesman’ or ‘Chairman’, gendered terminology is rife within legal contracts. For example, contracts are 88% more likely to reference ‘himself’ rather than ‘herself’, and ‘Chairman’ is 250x more likely to be referenced in contracts than ‘Chairwoman’.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with usage of ‘salesperson’ more than twice as common as ‘salesman’ or ‘saleswoman’. Usage of ‘chair’ or ‘chairperson’ has also doubled in the past five years.

Updating a contract’s language in accordance with the recipient’s gender via a legal team can be a costly process, so many just keep gendered language regardless of the recipient’s gender. As the first touchpoint for a new starter, this can reflect poorly on the company and its DEI aims.

Rafie Faruq, Genie AI CEO, commented “Bias and prejudice begins in the background – it doesn’t have to be a blatant act, but is embedded within the very fabric of our language. By stamping that out of legal contracts, we aim to to progress the legal industry into a fairer and more accessible future.

So far, court interpretation of gender neutral pronouns seem encouraging, therefore we will continue to take bold steps to transform the way law is done, whether that’s ensuring our contracts are gender neutral or open sourcing our template library.”

*Genie AI, full data analysis available here

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