Social norms have been changing drastically over the past few years. People have decided to find their voice and speak out against issues that affect them and call for a change. Because of these efforts, changes have been made across many different platforms to address these many different issues. As a business it is important to make changes within before it becomes an issue. One of the most proactive changes a business can make is to incorporate inclusive language into the workplace.
What is Inclusive Language?
Inclusive language is respectful language. More importantly, it is respectful and relevant to everyone who encounters it. This language help employees understand they are valued and important to the company. This kind of language is also an effective way to break down stereotypes. Some examples of inclusive language include not pointing out disabilities, race, gender, or sexual orientation when describing an employee or their work ethic.
Why is Inclusive Language Important?
If a company you worked for often made “jokes” or negative comments around a defining feature that applied to you, would you feel valued? Probably not. It is important to keep inclusive language as a company’s priority because careless words can hurt employees and customers. This is relevant for topics such as age, cultural background, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disabilities.
Inclusive language is an excellent weapon against stereotypes. Sometimes people might not intend to be rude or even realize they are depending on stereotypes, but overall, it is up to the person who receives the comment to determine how they take it. Because of this, it is better just to remove any chance of non-inclusive comments from the workforce.
What are the Benefits of Inclusive Language?
As if making sure your employees and customers feel valued isn’t enough, businesses that prioritize inclusive language are more likely to create better work environments. When people feel like an important member of the company, employee turnover decreases, and customer satisfaction increases. Because of this, it is important for any business to but their employees and customers first and foremost.
How do we Implement Inclusive Language?
The first step to making sure inclusive language is being used in the workplace, is making sure you are using it. By making the choice to set yourself apart from others, you will be able to encourage others to make that change themselves. Some common terms that should be avoided are ones that refer to disability, race, gender, and sexual orientation.
The second step to prioritizing this kind of environment is by saying something. When you hear someone making rude jokes or negative comments about others, speak up. Calling others out and bringing attention to the fact that their language is not acceptable is a helpful way to stop them in the act. By calling them out, hopefully, you will be silencing this behavior in the future.
Making this choice might seem difficult, but it is better to call out this kind of behavior before it turns into a major issue. One reason this might seem difficult is because sometimes it can be a person of authority making these jokes/comments. Additionally, it might be hard to stand up to these comments if everyone else is laughing and allowing them.
Whether you are a manager or an employee, it is important to take these jokes/comments seriously when they are being made. People who think these comments are allowed will make more of them. It is best to make it clear to employees that this way of speaking is not tolerated.
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