March 18, 2022 | Odessa S. Hamilton, Lindsay Kohler, Elle Bradley Cox, and Grace Lordan
Using exclusionary language isn’t just about offending others; research has made its harmful effects clear. To create a truly inclusive culture, it’s critical that you take a hard look at how people in all areas of your company are using language. The authors present four ways you as leader can encourage the use of inclusive language in your company. First, make sure your recruiters and hiring managers slow down and pay attention to the language they use when drafting job postings, with an eye toward removing non-neutral terms. Second, create a list of words that are forbidden in product development. Third, pair internal company guidance that includes practical, accessible tips that can be put into immediate action (for example, an inclusive vocabulary reference guide) with straightforward tools, such as the “inclusive language” feature available in Microsoft Office, which suggests neutral alternatives to biased language used in professional communications. Finally, choose ambassadors who are highly visible in the company to support your inclusive language initiatives.