Operation "Email cleanup" - Purging the profanity before you hit 'Send'

Got a potty mouth? If you work for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., you’ll need to clean it up and edit out the expletives in your email exchanges.

After an embarrassing slip of the tongue received national attention in recent Congressional hearings, Goldman Sachs is now prohibiting employees from swearing in emails.

For the New York company, this means 34,000 traders, investment bankers and other employees must now avoid a vast vocabulary of dirty words often uttered on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs’ disinfected communications policy will be carried out by screening software, which detects and flags common swear words and acronyms.

Goldman Sachs’ no-swearing policy extends to instant messages and texts from company-issued cellphones and emails. Inappropriate emails could make their way to the compliance department, while others might be blocked completely, depending on the severity of the language.

A Goldman spokeswoman said: "Of course we have policies about the use of appropriate language and we are always looking for ways to ensure that they are enforced."

Goldman Sachs is not the only employer taking a stand against off-color communications. This past June, Citigroup told employees in a memo that "recent headlines involving inappropriate emails are an important reminder to 'think before writing, read before sending'. Citigroup doesn’t enforce any formal discipline, but chronic swearers may be approached by their managers and asked to clean up their language.

Another company concerned about profanity-peppered communications is New York-based media company Bloomberg LP. It claims to have monitored emails for more than 10 years with an application that scans messages for 70 profane words and phrase - in English and several other languages.

What about your company? Do you have a formal policy prohibiting swearing in email communications? Do you worry about looking less professional if employees send emails that contain profanity?

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