Firms encouraged to reduce sports banter in order to be more inclusive of women

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If you're reading this article, the chances are you've become embroiled in office conversations about football.

Look, you can't have your head down every second of your working day, it's only natural that moments will arise where you discuss the weekend's big talking points.

Whether that's raving about your club's star player, bemoaning that the referee scammed you or - most recently - slamming VAR, you can guarantee that sporting chats creep into the workplace. 

However, Chartered Management Institute head Ann Francke has forwarded the idea that 'sports banter' should actually be reduced, although not banned, in order not to exclude women.

"A lot of women, in particular, feel left out," she informed the BBC's Today programme.

Should sports banter be reduced?

"They don't follow those sports and they don't like either being forced to talk about them or not being included. I have nothing against sports enthusiasts or cricket fans - that's great.

"But the issue is many people aren't cricket fans. It's a gateway to more laddish behaviour and - if it just goes unchecked - it's a signal of a more laddish culture.

"It's very easy for it to escalate from VAR talk and chat to slapping each other on the back and talking about their conquests at the weekend."

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The counterargument

Nevertheless, journalist Jacqui Oatley rebutted: "If you ban football chat or banter of any description, then all you're going to do is alienate the people who actually want to communicate with each other.

"It would be so, so negative to tell people not to talk about sport because girls don't like it or women don't like it, that's far more divisive."

GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

I feel common sense is what's needed here.

Look, nobody can make sweeping statements and pretend to know what every workplace is like or, frankly, what all the millions of working women want to speak about.

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I have no doubt that Francke realises this too, but you wouldn't know from her comments.

Any conversation that devolves into hues of misogyny should be curtailed, sure, but sporting chats are no more of a gateway than talking about cars, food, gaming or whatever.

Like with any conversation including a wide range of people, you should always be accommodating and not ostracise anybody because of their interests, regardless of whether they're male or female.

I don't doubt that some men take things down a distasteful route, but let's not put every male in this box, just as we shouldn't assume every female doesn't care about the Premier League results and VAR calls.

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Forget sport. Forget male and female divides. Just be inclusive with every employee in any workplace conversation to create the most cohesive team, company or firm as possible.

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