When discussing issues of diversity and inclusion, a common vocabulary is essential to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Words often have different meanings to different people, based on their experiences and identities.
Language is one of the most powerful tools we use to create a connection and a common understanding. It is essential for building relationships and an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome and included. Also, language has the power to exclude people through marginalization and discrimination against various communities because of their identities, culture, experiences, or appearances. Inclusive language seeks to treat all people with respect, dignity, and impartiality. It challenges us to change our ways and habits. It makes us consider the implications words and phrases that may not impact us but dig into empathizing an experience, not of our own.
- Put people first. Puts the person ahead of their characteristics and center the individual as the most essential element.
- Be consistent in your description of members of a group
- Use gender-neutral language
- Be aware of heteronormative phrasing
- Have a growth mindset
- Ask if you aren't sure