Should you call people resources?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’m a big believer that language and the words you use say a lot about a culture, and that we can take steps to change culture through changing those words.

Words can make people feel excluded, unappreciated and overlooked. I try to make conscious decisions about the words that I use and will phase out words if I think that they upset or offend people. I’m not perfect and I’m learning all the time.

One of these words is Resources, I’ve seen how people recoil when they hear of themselves being referred to as a resource and how it can dehumanise individuals within organisations. It’s also not particularly plain English. As a catch-all term, it can mean anything from money, to team members, to desks, chairs, computers and paperclips.

It’s a word I have stopped saying and very often find myself asking “do you mean people?” when others use it. I genuinely don’t know if they mean people or something else.

A few weeks ago I doodled this flowchart and it clearly resonated with people, it was very popular (so quickly that I didn’t have the chance to correct the typo)

Original tweet

It was picked up by people globally, this isn’t just a UK thing.

Here is my plea, think about the words you use and how they affect others. It doesn’t matter if they don’t offend you, if they offend someone else then it might be time to think about using different ones.


And as a special treat, I made some stickers and a 5x5cm print ready pdf so you can make your own.

if you mean people say people stickers
Original tweet


  1. Following on from recent tweets, here is a blog post: Should you call people resources? (sh…

  2. This is good. We made ‘people not resources’ stickers @Workable to give away at HR events for the same reasons:

  3. RT @ewebber: @codecraftuk Also on words matter

  4. RT @ewebber: Following on from recent tweets, here is a blog post: Should you call people resources? (short answer,…

  5. I think the bigger impact of calling people resources isn’t on the people being referred to, it’s on the people doing the referring. If you call people resources you’ll think of them as resources and start to think that they’re interchangeable. You frequently hear people discussing how a problem needs 10 days of developer time, as if who the developer in question is isn’t relevant. It might take 5 days for a more experienced developer, or a developer with experience of the domain area.

  6. ewebber

    19 September 2021 at 12:33 pm

    I have just published a new blog post with a click through guide here

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