Soldiers have been banned from using the word ‘lads’ when referring to each other in meetings as part of the Army’s latest gender equality drive.

Troops from 22 Engineer Regiment were told to avoid the term because it could cause offence, regardless whether any women are present.

Other prohibited words include ‘mankind’ and ‘sportsmanship’, the Daily Mail reports.

Millions of pounds was also handed down to install gender-neutral bathroom facilities at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the Army’s officer training centre, along with other bases.

The directives have the backing of the Ministry of Defence’s joint equality, diversity and inclusion unit, known as Jedi.

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The ban on the use of the word ‘lads’ emerged in a set of orders distributed by the regiment’s sergeant major to all soldiers participating in online meetings.

They were reportedly told ‘there has been a drop’ in values and standards in recent weeks while using Zoom calls or Microsoft Teams to conduct military business.

He also reminded them to ‘make sure people are getting paid the correct compliments’ and to use diversity and inclusion.

It lists ‘gents’, ‘men’ and ‘lads’ among phrases which ‘are not to be used’.

A serving soldier told the Mail he has ‘served on operations with lots of women’ and ‘didn’t meet one who was offended by the word “lads”’, adding that somebody ‘of such a sensitive nature’ would ‘not last five minutes’.

He called the order ‘nonsense’ and suggested ‘the bosses are trying to solve a problem which frankly doesn’t exist’.

An Army Spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘Inclusive language is already encouraged across the UK Armed Forces for promoting better team cohesion.

‘The MoD is a modern employer and determined to offer an inclusive environment for all those serving their country.’

A ban on women serving in close combat units was lifted in 2016 and women have been able to apply for all roles in the military since 2018.

Gender and age-neutral fitness tests have been introduced by the Army, requiring the same standards from male and female troops.

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