Monday, November 27, 2023

What Are The Guidelines For Using Inclusive Language

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Ethnicity Place Of Origin & Race

Manhattan School Releases Guidelines Promoting Inclusive Language

While the guidelines altogether are a living document and will evolve to reflect cultural changes, this is particularly true for language regarding ethnicity, place of origin and race. The Communications team continues to monitor research and trends in this space, while also consulting with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Health Equity teams. These entries in particular will adapt as perspectives on how to best use language to advance equity change.

The general rule is to be as specific as possible.

  • Someone who is Black may not be African American, which refers to people of African descent who categorize themselves as from the U.S. Even if they currently live in the U.S., a Black person might be from the Caribbean or Latin America or elsewhere, so they might not consider themselves to be American.
  • Africa is the second-largest continent after Asia and contains many different countries. Do not use Africa as a catch-all term when the content in question refers to a specific African country.
  • American Indian and Native American are both acceptable terms to refer to Indigenous people in the U.S.
  • Do not use Indian, which refers to people from the country of India, as shorthand for American Indian or Native American.
  • South Asian
  • Southeast Asian .
  • Black as a description of race is always capitalized, as the term refers to a distinct group of people who have shared experiences.
  • Be Mindful Of Terms Related To Race Ethnicity Nationality And Culture

    Many terms used daily have roots in racism and discrimination, so using them can make people feel unsafe, whether in your marketing materials or day-to-day correspondence with team members.

    Some regularly used terms have roots in racism and discrimination or are taken from celebrations and sacred practices of marginalized communities. Using them in your marketing materials or day-to-day correspondence with team members can make people feel unsafe and unwelcome.

    For example, pow wow is often used informally to describe a meeting or get-together. Using it in such a way disregards pow wows as indigenous cultures sacred rituals and social gatherings ceremonial events that have nothing to do with work. A simple alternative is saying stand-up, meeting, or hang-out.

    The image below displays other examples of words commonly used that are related to ethnicity, race, nationality, and culture that you can easily swap out for more inclusive terms.

    How Inclusive Language Creates Belonging In The Workplace

  • It enables deeper thinking about accessible spaces because staff and teams arent afraid to talk about disability. Reducing fear means an increased likelihood that disability will not only be spoken about, but thought about and integrated into new and existing projects. An anticipatory approach rather than a reactive approach.
  • Seeing everyone as they want to be seen. This is especially important in relation to gender identity. By creating an open environment where staff use pronouns in all communication everyone is more likely to do this and there is less stigma.
  • Moving with the times. As I mentioned previously, language changes and evolves faster than we may realise. Being aware and open to shifting language means that the whole organisation can evolve in an agile fashion.
  • Using inclusive language challenges both conscious and unconscious biases. Language is powerful, so adjusting words and phrases shifts mindsets too.
  • Inclusive language supports disclosure and declaration by creating a safe space making people feel valued.
  • Positive language facilitates a collective no blame culture as everyone makes mistakes and thats ok!
  • It tells your customers, clients, service-users and members know that you practise whats written in your policies. Bringing paper-based statements to life, resulting in increased trust with your stakeholders.
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    People Of Different Age

    Best practices:

    • Be specific about the age groups when possible.
    • When contrasting older adults with adults of other ages, describe that other age group specifically .

    Examples of bias-free language:

    Person with dementia

    Person with dementia due to Alzheimers disease

    Avoid using language that might suggest that all older adults have some cognitive issues or health problems.

    Linguistic Society Of America


    These guidelines grew out of the Guidelines for Nonsexist Usage, originally developed by the LSAs Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics , and formally approved by the Executive Committee in 1996. The focus of the guidelines has been revised and expanded since the inaugural edition to reflect a broader focus on inclusive language. While the guidelines still address issues related to gender, they also address issues related to minorities, disabilities, and other demographic characteristics of the LSA membership and readership of which authors and presenters should be aware, and to which they should be sensitive in their communication.

    Inclusive language acknowledges diversity, conveys respect to all people, is sensitive to differences, and promotes equal opportunities. These guidelines highlight ways in which linguists can both lead the way in proactively writing inclusively and avoid past pitfalls or habits that may unintentionally lead to marginalization, offense, misrepresentation, or the perpetuation of stereotypes. Stereotyping language is often not a matter of intention but of effect. These guidelines are based on decades of research, feedback from informed members of the Linguistic Society of America, and a review of similar documents from other organizations and government bodies.

    Statements perpetuating stereotypes and norms

    Choice of examples and terminology

    Reference to individuals


    Approved by the LSA Executive Committee, November 2016

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    Inclusive Language Guide: How To Use It For Your Brand And Business

    Now that you understand what inclusive language is and why its important for your brand, lets take a look at different ways to start incorporating more inclusive language into your business.

    This inclusive language guide will give you important tips to help you begin or improve your inclusivity efforts.

    Why Is It Important

    Language is a powerful tool, and it can have a huge impact on people. Many recent researches show that large number of people are affected by language, which makes using inclusive language more crucial than ever. Researchers have found that using gender-exclusive language can make individuals feel ostracized from a larger group and on the other hand, using gender inclusive language helps reduce gender-based discrimination against women and other minorities. Apart from having a great impact personally, using inclusive language also very important for workplace and business success. Just as diversity can drive innovation in an organization, using inclusive language can increase creativity and improve employee performance in the workplace. Using inclusive language in the workplace makes a huge impact on the success of the business, as the employees will feel included and values within the organization which will ultimately let them give in more value for the organization.

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    Practice Humility Stay Open To Being Corrected On The Language That You Use

    • Mistakes can and will happen. It is not feasible to include every word in this guide. You can avoid mistakes by actively listening and asking individuals how they identify.
    • In some situations you may be required to conduct your own research to correct a mistake. Whenever possible utilize resources from the community you are writing about. If you are writing about disability, you will get more accurate and reliable information from the Center for Disability Rights Press Guide than an article published by a communication professionals organization. For example, many LGBTQ+ organizations included the singular they pronoun in press guides years before it was included in the AP style guide in 2017.

    Why Is Inclusive Language Important For Businesses

    The Importance of Inclusive Language with Jackie Ferguson

    Its important to note that inclusive language is not an optional practice for businesses.

    Inclusivity, diversity, and equality are important values that need to be represented in your company.

    If they are not, you not only risk public image and ethical reputation damages, but legal damages as well if you are believed to be discriminatory.

    Your brand should want to be as inclusive as possible to create a healthy work environment and foster an appreciation for people of different backgrounds.

    Inclusive language is a key tool to communicate these values to your customers and internally to your teams across departments.

    Without inclusive language, your brand doesnt back up any of the core values you should be representing.

    Inclusive language also helps to foster more trust and acceptance among your customer base.

    Traditionally marginalized groups deserve to be included in brand values and within brand messaging.

    Doing your part as a marketer to use inclusive language helps your brand become a leader in diversity and equality.

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    Be Mindful Of Hidden And Obvious Offensive Derogatory Terms Or Coded Language

    • Hayward native: Using the word native to describe individuals born and raised in an area contributes to the erasure of Native Americans and indigenous people.
    • Highly qualified Latinx candidate: Qualifying adjectives may imply that the highly qualified Latinx candidate is an exception to the norm.
    • llegal alien: Lack of immigration documentation does not make a person illegal. Using the term illegal is dehumanizing. No human being is illegal.

    Be As Specific As Possible

    When identifying someone, be as specific as possible to avoid stereotyping or generalizing in a way that undermines a persons individuality. Instead of describing someone as Asian, you might say Chinese or Indian instead of saying that woman, use the womans name and/or title. Again, if youre unclear about how people want to be described or addressed, its a good idea to ask.

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    Be Aware Of Heteronormative Phrasing

    Binary gender identity is just one example of heteronormativity, which also includes:

    • The assumption of heterosexuality
    • The assumption of a mom and dad family structure and
    • Assumptions and references to traditional gender roles at home

    Since the basis of heteronormativity is assumption, the best way to avoid it is to ask inclusive questions when youre unsure of someones sexuality or preferred gender pronoun. For example, dont ask, Hows your wife? Instead ask, Hows your partner?

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    Inclusive &  Destigmatizing Language

    The following guidelines are meant to educate and inspire our entire organization to continue striving to live out our core value, Champion diversity, equity and inclusion . And although we do our best to embody all our values, we can always do better. Especially in the case of our ongoing DEI efforts, we must continue to work hard every day to challenge the deeply embedded habits, biasesand in this case language choicesthat up until now have only managed to separate us.

    Let these guidelines inform language choices that will help create real connection with all people, in all your communication.

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    Guidelines To Make Language More Inclusive

    Its not always necessary to fret over every word. A few big principles can take you quite far. Here a 6 that many folks involved with diversity and inclusion recommend.

    • Put people first: Default to person-first constructions that put the person ahead of their characteristics, e.g., instead of a blind man or a female engineer, use a man who is blind or a woman on our engineering team. People-first language keeps the individual as the most essential element there is more to each of us than our descriptors. Mention characteristics like gender, sexual orientation, religion, racial group or ability only when relevant to the discussion.
    • Avoid idioms, jargons, and acronyms: Jargon and acronyms can exclude people who may not have specialized knowledge of a particular subject and impede effective communication as a result. Many idioms dont translate well from country to country, and some are rooted in negative connotations and stereotypes .
    • When speaking about disability, avoid phrases that suggest victimhood, e.g. afflicted by, victim of, suffers from, confined to a wheelchair. While youre at it, steer clear of euphemisms like challenged, differently-abled, or specially-abled, too.

    For more on inclusive language principles, navigate through An Incomplete Guide to Inclusive Language for Startups and Techby Courtney Seiter.

    Key Takeaways

    Promoting Inclusion At Work

    Ideally using unbiased language will become the norm and standardized, but until then it will take the efforts of organizations and individuals to shift the current language, Romero tells us. But the real key to inclusivity, she says, is being mindful.

    It can seem overwhelming to be mindful of all the possible linguistic pitfalls you may encounter, she notes. So my first recommendation is to accept that you are human, just like the rest of us. Be open to listening to others and learning from their perspective. If you make a mistake then take the time to understand what it was and learn from it. With time, it will become easier and you too will be able to help others broaden their linguistic perspectives and sensitivities.

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    Refer To A Theoretical Person As They Instead Of He Or She

    As marketers, we’re exceptional storytellers. Sometimes, however, whether you’re talking offhandedly with a colleague or delivering a pitch, you might get caught up in using pronouns that unintentionally support stereotypes.

    For instance, let’s say you’re giving a pitch and you say, “We’ve found through analysis that our readers are typically in a VP position or higher, which is why we believe we should lean into LinkedIn as a strategy in 2020. For instance, let’s say our reader needs to deliver a presentation. He might turn to our blog ahead of time, but more likely, he’ll turn to LinkedIn first.”

    Your fictitious VP-level reader doesn’t need to be “male” or “female” — why not call them by the non-gendered pronoun “they, “them, or “their”? You can still make your point, and you won’t alienate people on your team who feel hurt that you’ve assumed that leaders are likely male.

    This also relates to gendered terms that add nouns to the end of them, like salesman. Opting for a more inclusive term could be saying salesperson or sales rep. The image below shows additional examples of gendered terms and alternative phrases to use.

    When In Doubt Ask Individuals Which Pronouns They Prefer

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    It’s critical to note there’s no one-size-fits-all “right” and “wrong” when it comes to language. Many people have personal preferences, especially when it comes to identity.

    For instance, person-first language was introduced because many feel it’s dehumanizing to put the disability or gender orientation first, as it seems to define the individual.

    However, some prefer identity-first language since they accept autism as an inherent part of their identity identity-first language can even help evoke a sense of pride among individuals.

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    Key Phrases For Talking About Diversity And Inclusion In Tech

    Our quest to be as inclusive as possible means that quite a few new vocabulary words might pop up from time to time as we learn from each other. Here are some words that can offer a greater entry point into the inclusion conversation.

    Ableism: Practices and dominant attitudes in society that assume there is an ideal body and mind that is better than all others.

    Accessibility: The practice of designing and developing web sites and web content that provide a great experience for all web users.

    ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act is a U.S. civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all places that are open to the general public.

    Ageism: A system of beliefs, attitudes, and actions that stereotype and discriminate against individuals or groups on the basis of their age.

    Ally: Someone who supports a group other than their own Allies acknowledge disadvantage and oppression of other groups take risks and action on the behalf of others and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.

    Affinity groups: A group of people who choose to meet to explore a shared identity such as race, gender, age, religion, and sexual orientation. These groups can be further broken down into smaller groups within the two major affinities . At work these are are sometimes called Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs.

    • statement of unacceptable behavior

    Exclusive Terms And Phrases To Avoid

    GuysThis is gendered language, and should be avoided when addressing a co-ed group.Replace with: Gender-neutral language such as: folks, people, you all, etc.

    Girls/ladies/galsWomen over 18 are not girls, while ladies and gals are both potentially patronizing.Replace with: Women

    Handicap/handicappedDisability rights activists question the use of these terms. In this case, we default to preferred terms.Replace with: disabled, person with a disability

    Impaired While not every person who is deaf or blind takes issue with the term impaired, it may be best to avoid. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines impaired as being in a less than perfect or whole condition: as disabled or functionally defective. To suggest that people who can not hear or seeor have difficulties hearing or seeingare less than whole is neither inclusive or empatheticand thus, not Sprout. The term also suggests impermanence, that impairments can be fixedwhich is also not always the case.

    Indian/American IndianThis language dates back to Christopher Columbus and naming a people on a Anglo-Saxon perception. It implies that these nations are only defined by how they were perceived by Europeans after 1492, when their people were massacred.Replace with: native, indigenous

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    Diversity Graphics And Images

    While inclusive language is a key component of creating a more equal and healthy work environment, it is part of a much bigger picture.

    Your graphics, images, and designs also need to be inclusive as well.

    When you have representational images and designs to accompany your inclusive language, your internal teams will have a clearer picture of your values.

    Using Inclusive Language In Grants

    Y Twitter Engineering We

    In June 2021, we released a post about using inclusive language in grants. Were revisiting this topic now because this is a topic that deserves ongoing attention and one that evolves over time.

    According to the Linguistic Society of America, using inclusive language avoids past pitfalls or habits that may unintentionally lead to marginalization, offense, misrepresentation, or the perpetuation of stereotypes.

    What I like about this definition is that it suggests there is always room for improvement. Theres room for improvement not only on an individual level, but on the level of the movement itself. The standards for inclusive language change with time as communities voices are amplified and as the mainstream pays more attention to how communities would like to be spoken and written about.

    Concepts such as people-first language or gender-neutral language are part of the larger movement of inclusive language. A guideline that acknowledges the power of words to reinforce negative biases related to stigma, institutional discrimination, and othering.

    Abiding by inclusive language principles and guidelines in writing promotes an appreciation of diversity and differences. Knowing how to express ideas using inclusive language is especially important for grant writers. They are often describing the experiences of people who are underrepresented or marginalized.

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