In today’s diverse workplaces, fostering an inclusive environment through communication is crucial. Language holds immense power; once spoken, words can’t be taken back. Inclusive language aims to create a welcoming space, free from offence or discrimination based on identity factors like race, gender, age, religion, or ability.

Why Does Inclusive Language Matter?

The workplace landscape has transformed drastically, with diverse ages, nationalities, and backgrounds coming together.

Updating our communication style ensures everyone feels valued, fostering cooperation and better relationships.

It’s not just about being good for people; it’s also a boon for businesses.

Inclusive language attracts diverse talent and secures varied perspectives, positively impacting productivity.

Common Challenges

Transitioning to inclusive language might seem overwhelming, but starting small can make a difference.

Embracing key rules, like eliminating gendered greetings or understanding that, in order to show respect, you don’t need to ‘relate’ to a particular issue, eases the process.

Fear of causing offence often holds people back, but attempting change is appreciated, and learning from mistakes is part of the journey.

Understanding Relative Advantage

Language usually evolves to reflect the majority culture, so if you’re part of that majority you have likely had the relative advantage of feeling accepted and represented as standard without even realising it.

Recognising this advantage and empathising with others’ experiences are vital steps in embracing inclusive language.

Making changes to our vocabulary can be uncomfortable at first, and might not benefit us directly, but if it can make someone else’s life easier then isn’t it worth it?

Inclusive Language in Action

Respecting individuals’ self-identifications, embracing specificity over vagueness, and being mindful of hurtful stereotypes are crucial.

The emphasis is on impact over intent, encouraging continuous learning and adaptation.

Identifying inclusive language involves questioning assumptions, avoiding offensive origins in expressions, and staying updated with acceptable terminology.

Substituting gendered greetings, using gender-neutral pronouns, or preferring specific ethnicities over general terms are simple yet impactful adjustments.

Workplace Banter and Respectful Communication

While banter can foster rapport, it’s vital to draw the line to prevent discrimination, harassment, or discomfort.

Unacceptable banter involves mocking disabilities, using offensive slurs, making sexual comments, or teasing someone’s appearance, creating exclusion or discomfort.

Addressing Mistakes Compassionately

When addressing non-inclusive language, calling people ‘in’ rather than ‘out’ invites constructive conversations. When we call someone ‘in’, we are essentially inviting them into a conversation, acknowledging that we all make mistakes and have areas where we need to learn and grow.

This approach involves a more compassionate and empathetic response, where we seek to understand the person’s perspective and offer support and guidance to help them learn from their mistake.

It’s about understanding perspectives, offering support, and guiding growth rather than shaming or criticising.

The Value of Inclusive Language

Inclusive language cultivates respect, dignity, and a welcoming atmosphere while preventing offence or exclusion. It attracts diverse talent, showcases company values, and builds strong relationships, contributing to a more equitable and understanding workplace culture.

In conclusion, embracing inclusive language isn’t just about words; it’s about building a workplace where everyone feels respected, valued, and able to contribute positively.

Mix Diversity

Further reading

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“I Don’t Care Who You Are, I Just Need You To Do Your Job”

DEI consultant and speaker Tom Crawford explains why not caring who your employees are is a problem for leaders. And how understanding employee motivations, self-awareness and role-modelling makes for a more inclusive workplace.

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Intersectionality in the Workplace

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Appreciating and Engaging the LGBTQ+ Community

DEI Consultant, speaker and coach Tom Crawford shares insights from his personal journey and provides practical tips to engage meaningfully with the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you’re looking to better understand your LGBTQ+ colleagues, friends, or family members, or simply want to be a supportive ally, this guide is for you.

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