From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Occupations (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of the Occupations WikiProject, a collaborative effort to improve Wikipedia's coverage of occupations. If you would like to participate, you can visit the project page, where you can see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Business (Rated Stub-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Business, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of business articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Stub-Class article Stub  This article has been rated as Stub-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.


This article previously redirected to List of corporate leaders. I do not find this appropriate, since this group forms only a very small segment of what we refer to as businessmen.

I think that anyone who has followed a link to this term probably does so because he wants to know just what a businessman is or does. I find the word to be a somewhat pejorative term for a person who engages in generic profit-making activity of any kind. This parallels the way that a generic consultant will give advice on anything that you care to ask him about; he may be knowledgeable about the subject, but that is not a prerequisite. The archetype of a businessman may very well be Dilbert's Pointy Haired Boss.

A little Googling has not been very productive. Commonly the hits referred to various individuals who called themselves businessmen, or to news reports of businessmen who had been arrested for some white collar crime, or at best it is a tag used by the media when they don't know what a person does. I found this at

Indeed, the BUSINESSMAN can be distinguished from the 'professionals' in this way: a lawyer could be called a 'splendid lawyer' if he wins a lot of cases, even if he forgets to collect his bills and ends up with a very small income. This holds for all professionals: there is for them a standard of excellent performance that is not solely 'making the most money'. (This holds even for salesmen: a person could count as a successful salesman if he sells a lot of goods, even if somehow he ends up not earning much money. It also holds for a 'good prostitute'!) But a person is labeled a 'successful businessman' solely according to the profit he accrues in the long run. This means that the ROLE of businessman is sharply defined as NOT aimed at benefitting society directly. (Believers in the Hidden Hand will claim that such entrepeneurs benefit society indirectly far more than 'do-gooders'!

Another notable speech extract which serves to enlighten us is from the 1896 Democratic convention.

When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a businessman. The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as his employer. The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. The merchant at the crossroads store is as much a businessman as the merchant of New York. The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much businessmen as the few financial magnates who in a backroom corner the money of the world.

Ultimately, I have no idea what the word "businessman" really menas. In my more waggish moments I take MBA to mean Master of Bugger-All. There also appears to be a tradition among writers to use the term in anticipation that readers will understand it even if the writer doesn't. Eclecticology 21:27, 2004 Feb 17 (UTC)

I've moved the above Bryan quote to the body of the article. "Businessman" is such a common weasel word that a series of quotes may be the best way to grasp its importance. It is too imortant and pervasive to be deleted. Eclecticology 18:06, 2004 Mar 16 (UTC)

Sexist again?[edit]

This article is blatantly & offensively sexist. The gender-neutral term is businessperson. The gender-biased term is businessman. This article violates NPOV and must be changed to businessperson. The arguments below are flawed and sexist. -- (talk) 06:45, 18 September 2015 (UTC)

Businessman is the most commonly used term to refer to a person working for a company aiming at making profit and is entirely appropriate to use regardless of whether some people find it 'sexist' or not. The majority of 'businesspersons' are male anyway and you're not discriminating against anyone for using this word to refer to 'businesspersons' as a whole.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:45, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

That is a very flawed argument. It is indeed true that most businesspeople are male, but not all are, and so to use "businessmen" to refer to businesspeople as a whole group is discriminating against those businesspeople who are not men.
This is analogous to how most Americans are caucasian, but it would still obviously be racially discriminating to use the term "whites" instead of "Americans" as "white" instead of the adjective "American" (e.g., "the white GDP continues to grow"); to do so is to withhold due credit from the minority group/s for their contributions.
Also, it is actually the case that the majority of the human population as a whole is female (not a large majority, but still a majority), so your argument could be applied just as (il)logically to make the case that the group terms for humans should be "women". I think we could agree that that would be absurd. The use of "businessmen" for all businesspeople is a little less absurd because the percentage of businesspeople who are male is greater than the percentage of humans who are female, but that's just a matter of degree, and not a very large degree either. BreakfastJr (talk) 04:10, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

Please move this page to Businessperson. It is the gender-neutral form. 01:32, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Businessperson redirects here, and Businessperson is mentioned in the article. The use of man as a suffix is technically not sexist. See usage note at - MattTM 03:49, Sep 22, 2004 (UTC)
Precisely. As it's not the only word in the English language with multiple meanings, there is nothing wrong with the generic use of "man." Women who believe that they have been treated in a manner unsupportive of equality need to refer to their dictionary. -Wild Bill 23:05, Sep 22, 2004 (UTC)
What is a man?? A male person, of course! So why should "businessman" be the proper gender-neutral suffix?? Do most people as of 2004 think that "-man" is a gender-neutral suffix or a masculine suffix?? 20:16, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)
This is the first time I asked sexist language to be removed from a Wikipedia article when it got objected to easily. Why are there people who continue to use "man" generically instead of a word like "person"?? 20:36, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Because any word suffixed with -person looks stupid and yet again overly PC? Lady BlahDeBlah 09:29, 11 June 2006 (UTC)
I've been bold and moved the article from businessman to businessperson. The generic use of "man" doesn't appease this particular man. jareha 02:27, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
By the way, more Wikipedia articles currently link to businessperson than businessman. Although this doesn't settle the issue, it does provide a basis of reasoning for the article move. jareha 02:32, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
Argh, this is actually not true, as the number of redirects from businessman is included in the businessperson count. Take from this realization what you will. jareha 02:41, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

The male gender has always been the nuetral in refering to many people. Hence the use of 'men' in older books to refer to the people of a society. I dont think it's meant to be offensive to females. Evrenosogullari 14:33, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

This turn of events looks a bit weird to me as a Russian, since in the Russian language we have the words "businessman" and "businesswoman", but the word "businesswoman" is considered slang-ish and businesswomen are often referred to as "businessmen". (talk) 11:53, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Umm, Man also means 'the human race or a member thereof'. Saying the use of man in such words as postman or businessman being 'sexist', is about as silly as saying that about the word human, woman, or hell, x-men, lol. pc claptrap imho. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:39, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree. I'm all pro gender equality, as everybody should be, but there's no need to be ridiculous about it. Should we also rename the term "mankind", i.e. "humanity", into "personkind"? There are also a plenty of words that sound feminine without being specifically related to women too, e.g. "mother tongue", "motherland", etc. We're talking semantics here.
A businessman is a generic term for a capitalistically engaged individual, businesswoman is a businessman of female gender. "Businessperson" is something you would usually hear from a twelve-year-old talking about his father.~~Nicholas A. Chambers 07:40, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
The difference there is that there are no male individuals being referred to as "mother tongues" or "motherlands". As such, those terms' genderings are merely unnecessary. On the other hand, businessmen is a term which is gendered not only unnecessarily but also inaccurately, and furthermore it feeds into general cultural attitudes that result in women not feelings as capable as they otherwise might. (I should point out that I'm male, because that's unfortunately relevant to the topic.)
Also, I totally agree with Can You Prove That You're Human, and very much appreciate how concisely and coherently he phrased that position. Now to be a little less concise myself in this late entry into a bafflingly existent debate...
In response to "Umm, Man also means 'the human race or a member thereof'": Man has multiple meanings. One is indeed "the human race or a member thereof", and this does indeed mean that the term businessmen as the group noun for all businesspeople is not completely and totally inaccurate. However, that particular meaning of man is somewhat archaic and is far less common than the meaning "a male person". On the other hand, the term person also means "a member of the human race", and that meaning is not at all archaic and is very common, and the term does not have any other meanings which do not apply to all businesspeople, so why not just use the less ambiguous term?
As Can You Prove That You're Human says, that is essentially all that needs to be said. That shows a clear reason to prefer businessperson over businessman as a general term (it doesn't suggest that businessman is wholly evil or something, just that it is less good that businessperson because it is often misleading), so unless someone points out a stronger reason to prefer businessman the term used should be businessperson. Businessman being more common is not a stronger reason, because the present trend is clearly towards businessperson being more frequent and businessman less frequent, and that trend is even more pronounced in more reputable sources such as scientific journals and governmental reports. BreakfastJr (talk) 04:10, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

Many words in the English language have been changed to address gender neutrality. Businessman is not offensive to women, but it certainly fails to include them. Mankind is never used any more either; the word is indeed humankind or humanity. Actually, among Generation Y and Generation Z, it is more common to hear "businessperson", as opposed to "businessman," because gender neutrality has become the norm. "Businessperson" is certainly not something you would hear from a twelve-year-old talking about his father. It is actually outdated to use businessman. Since Wikipedia should be reflective of the constantly changing wealth of human knowledge and societies, the title should be businessperson. We should now be paying attention to titles across Wikipedia, in order to ensure that they reflect gender neutrality. --Can You Prove That You're Human (talk) 02:58, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

Businessman no more fails to include women than human does, a word which you used without question. It is a gender neutral term, -man is a gender neutral suffix. A quick Google search will show that businessman is a much wider used term than businessperson; Wikipedia should reflect current practice rather than politically correct mutilation of the English language. That said, this shouldn't be an article at all - it should be moved to Wiktionary. PoisonedPigeon (talk) 16:01, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

PoisonedPigeon, your statement is false. It is evident that "businessman" fails to include women and human achieves the inclusion of women. "Man," in its suffix form, whether or not you believe is indicative of humans in general, is also a word referring to the male sex. Conversely, "human" involves the species and does not specify gender; therefore, human is gender neutral. Furthermore, "a quick Google search" is not an accurate representation of current practice. In addition, Wikipedia should certainly not reflect current practice, because it is an encyclopaedia, which is supposed to use updated and proper terminology. Politically correct diction is not a mutilation of the English language; rather, it is a development of the language. Additionally, those who object to the usage of "man" have a clear rationale; however, there is no rationale for insisting the usage of "man," as opposed to "person," "human," or other gender-neutral language. --Can You Prove That You're Human (talk) 03:27, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Also, in response to MattTM, the URL he asked us to visit, "," states the following:

"—Usage note The use of man1 to mean “human being,” both alone and in compounds such as mankind, has met with objection in recent years, and the use is declining. The objection is based on the idea that man is most commonly used as an exclusive, sex-marked noun meaning “male human being.” Critics of the use of man as a generic maintain that it is sometimes ambiguous when the wider sense is intended (Man has built magnificent civilizations in the desert), but more often flatly discriminatory in that it slights or ignores the membership of women in the human race: The man in the street wants peace, not war.

Although some editors and writers reject or disregard these objections to man as a generic, many now choose instead to use such terms as human being(s), human race, humankind, people, or, when called for by style or context, women and men or men and women. See also -man, -person, -woman." --Can You Prove That You're Human (talk) 03:32, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Actually a "quick Google search" is one of the most effective ways of working out the most appropriate names for a Wikipedia page, see the Wikipedia policy on naming. Businessman does not exclude women unless the context makes it so. Wikipedia is not supposed to use "proper terminology" they are supposed to use "the most common English-language name of the subject of the article". Therefore this article needs to be renamed "businessman" because that is the most commonly used term for people who work in business. An article about what is the most politically correct term should be on Wiktionary because that's about the word, not about the subject. PoisonedPigeon (talk) 13:15, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

I read Wikipedia policy on naming, but it also stated the following: "It may also be useful to observe the usage of major international organizations, major English-language media outlets, quality encyclopedias, geographic name servers, major scientific bodies and scientific journals." Therefore, although you can use a search engine, it is imperative that you consider the terminology used in academic journals and encyclopaedias. Furthermore, the use of gender-neutral language, particularly the word "businessperson" as opposed to "businessman" is highlighted in Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Gender-neutral language and Wikipedia:Gender-neutral language. Once again, those who object to the usage of "man" have a clear rationale for their objections; it is unnecessary to insist on the usage of "man" when the gender neutrality issue is overwhelmingly evident. It simply doesn't make sense to advocate the usage of the word "businessman" when "non-neutral language... can often be [so] easily avoided" (Wikipedia:Gender-neutral language). This is the very reason why the term businessperson was first introduced. --Can You Prove That You're Human (talk) 17:52, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

It should be noted that "man" actually originally meant "human" ( and is still commonly used in this way. Businessperson seems to treat women as so childish and easily offended that using an ancient term will damage them, it's insulting! (will we be changing "history" to "persons'story" next?) (talk) 00:09, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

It is not at all childish to be offended by usage of a term (businessman) that effectively entirely overlooks (slightly over) half the population's contributions to the world of business, especially when that is not merely a solitary semantic strangeness but also part of a deep inequality between genders, with women still earning far less than men for the same work and being much less frequently promoted to high positions or elected to public office than are men. BreakfastJr (talk) 04:10, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

I do feel bad that this is the helpful comment that I will be making to Wikipedia, as I do really respect and revere this place. This is probably going to upset a fair amount of people, but it deserves to be said and hopefully will be accepted; This is Sexist talk section only is more than 3 times the length of the entire article itself. I've experienced less spamming and political ideology and ego juicing at....well, pretty much everywhere else online. There is a very simple way to solve this whole problem and get back to what is important here. If the administrators and editors of wikipedia as a whole believe in neutrality and objective-ism (which is, admitted not completely possible, but since people seem to state it a lot around here) then the answer to this sexist problem SITEWIDE is simple. Adopt this as a guideline: All male admins and editors - Speak up about and voice your disagreement and objections to articles that you can see are sexist towards women only and All female admins and editors - Only speak up about and voice your disagreement and objections to articles that you can see are sexist towards men. This is the only logical conclusion and answer to this dilemma and that you would logically, objectively follow.......unless, of course, you don't believe that no member of the opposite sex would nor even could possibly do that. That, of course, would mean that you are in fact the wikipedia definition of a sexist, in which case you should have probably kept your mouth shut about this issue anyways. Joel Glenn Wright 21:50, 9 October 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by JoelGlennWright (talkcontribs)

It seems that you are saying (a) that Wikipedia should not allow people to comment regarding purported sexism against their own gender, and (b) that people not commenting regarding purported sexism against their own gender would result in there being no more "spamming and political ideology and ego juicing", at least regarding sexism.
The immediate issue with (b) can actually be seen from this very Talk section which you consider a prime example of that spamming, political ideology, and ego juicing. In it, there are 9 people against the term businesspeople (that's including even though they might have had no real opinion on the topic) and 4 people (including me) supporting the term. Of the 9 against, at least 3 are very likely male (due to having in their user names the typically male names Matt, Bill, and Nicholas). Of the 4 in favour, at least 2 are male (jareha stated that he is, and I have the inside scoop on the fact that I am too). Most of the 8 people unaccounted for are probably male, based on the fact that the vast majority of Wikipedia editors are male (which is a separate issue which doesn't stop Wikipedia being bloody amazing but does mean it's not as bloody amazing as it could be) and I have no reason to believe that these people are not. As such, this Talk section is probably actually a case where most/all of the people discussing potential sexism are not of the gender that the sexism would be against, which would mean that your proposal would not be effective because you still consider this to contain a high degree of spamming, political ideology, and ego juicing.
However, in my opinion, your proposal has a much bigger problem than the fact that it wouldn't achieve the desired result, which is that it would involve deplorable gender discrimination and censorship. To say that people of a certain gender should, on account of their gender, refrain (heavily pressured self-censorship) or be barred (censorship) from speaking about any matter is clearly gender discrimination.
Furthermore, because of the fact that currently the vast majority of Wikipedia editors are male, if editors were only allowed to talk about potential sexism against the other gender then there would be very few people to discuss potential sexism against males. There is a huge body of evidence to suggest that there is far more sexism against women then against men, but there still definitely is some sexism against men in some places and in some senses. (Probably one of the most significant examples isn't necessarily what one would expect as a manifestation of sexism since it isn't one gender discriminating against the other; this is the pressure that males often feel, at least in Western societies, to adopt masculine traits and behaviours, even when those are not desired by or helpful for the male in question.) So it would be disadvantageous to Wikipedia to not allow males to discuss matters pertaining to sexism suffered by males. BreakfastJr (talk) 04:10, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

Move to Wiktionary?[edit]

I dont see any history or extra info. If the article is going to stay it should probably elaborate a bit more on the term. Evrenosogullari 14:29, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Biography and more[edit]

"This article previously redirected to List of corporate leaders."

That isn't bad, nor is magnates, executives, and so one, concerning the classification of biographies. Because it is mainly those whose business is or becomes big who will be the subjects of biographies. Isn't it true that "businessman" and "businessperson" appear in the 'pedia mainly in the first sentences of biographies, where there is a systematic effort to classify subjects by nationality and occupation?
But the article businessperson, in contrast to the category, should have broader scope. It should tell us what (original researchers and writers say) about business as an occupation ranging beyond economics to psychology and politics. (Eg, if a town in the U.S. appoints a committee of nine to report on the state of the school system, it will appoint three businessmen, three teachers, and three other citizens. If the subject of report will be the library system, three businessmen, three librarians, and three other citizens.)
I suspect that many Wikipedia articles are "poor" in general because they have been written as main pages for categories and subcategories. --P64 17:00, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

"The archetype of a businessman may very well be Dilbert's Pointy Haired Boss."

Yes, his biography may belong in categories Businesspeople and Comics characters.
But the role of businessmen may be to run the country. --P64 17:07, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

What is the point?[edit]

Some vague comments about the term "businessperson" – two sentences, no refs. About "Word use" – three sentences, thirteen refs. About "Dress code" – six sentences, no refs. What is this article supposed to be about? Gender-neutral language? Wardrobe? Aren't there already articles about those things? (talk) 17:38, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Refs longer than article[edit]

Hell, the list of references is longer than the article itself. What's the point of this entry? (talk) 12:57, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

I get worried I'm not posting this stuff right[edit]

So please don't bite me!!!! laughs, Can someone help me with some information? I am looking to suggest a consistently awarded bussiness man who has repeatedly inspired success at two separate Chamber of Commerce's in the last 16 years. I only searched briefly, but noticed the organizations he's been involved in are not "wiki" worthy. I say that with all respect...Please, please no one jump down my throat. Are these organizations not worthy of a spot? If so, is a man who has rapidly reinforced these organizations welcome on the wiki halls? Or should I not bother suggesting? I thank you in advance for your assistance. -Hstisgod (talk) 04:42, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Can we define parameters?[edit]

Is it possible to define the boundary which defines someone as a businessperson? There is a dispute at Jade Goody as to whether it is accurate to describe her as a businesswoman. Nietzsche 2 (talk) 23:16, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

2015 Rewrite[edit]

I rewrote this article in September 2015. Please comment here on any suggested changes, or anything that was lost that should come back. --GoldCoastPrior (talk) 23:32, 18 September 2015 (UTC)