“Since the IPH Center team is mostly remote, I look for different ways to stay connected and help build a culture.

One small attempt is by sharing a word — often obscure — but with some relevance to our work.”

 — Dr. John Lyons


Today, I’m describing a word that you may want to remove from your vocabulary or at least be aware of when others might find it offensive.

‘Stakeholder’ (in TCOM, we typically use the word partner), but I have heard a number of folks at IPH use stakeholder as an alternative word for the same concept.

The origins of the word comes from the 1700s and describes betting at that time.    The stakeholder was the person who holds the ‘stakes. ‘ Bookie became the more popular term for that role although that is something that lotteries and online betting as pretty much eliminated.

In the early days of European settlers coming to the US and their expansion across the continent, stakes also came to refer to land, where people would stake out property that they would claim and then be allowed to either own outright or purchase. Since Native American and First Nations people have a completely different concept of land, this stakeholder process basically was the process by which their historical lands were taken from them.  That is they were no longer allowed to share the lands that they had always shared as a community because white people’s idea of property is that it is something one person ‘owns’.

As you can imagine, given that history,  Native American and First Nations people find the term ‘stakeholder’   offensive. You might want to remove it from your vocabulary or be very aware of your audience.


Wishing you a great Labor day (or Labour day)