As a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), I’ve seen firsthand the incredible impact that inclusive language can have on the LGBTQIA+ community. Inclusive language not only promotes acceptance and understanding, but also creates a safe and welcoming environment for all employees. In this blog post, I’m excited to share some valuable tips on how we can help our colleagues use more inclusive language and make our workplace LGBTQIA+ inclusive.
1. Educate Employees About the LGBTQIA+ Community and the Importance of Using Inclusive Language
To start things off, let’s make sure our colleagues are well-educated about the LGBTQIA+ community, their experiences, and why inclusive language is important. We can organize workshops, training sessions, or even casual lunch-and-learn get-togethers to talk about LGBTQIA+ terms, pronouns, and how to use respectful language. It’s all about creating a space where we can ask questions, learn together, and grow.
Action Item: Organize workshops, training sessions, or lunch-and-learn gatherings to educate employees about LGBTQIA+ terminology, pronouns, and respectful language.
2. Normalize Employees Sharing Their Preferred Pronouns
Respecting and using individuals’ preferred pronouns is crucial for fostering inclusivity in the workplace. Here at RippleMatch we encourage everyone to share their pronouns when introducing themselves and provide platforms for employees to update their pronouns in their various workplace accounts, such as Slack. Normalizing pronoun sharing and emphasizing its significance in honoring gender identity is crucial. Personally, when I introduce myself, I make sure to mention my name followed by my pronouns, She/They. It’s an empowering feeling to bring my authentic self to work, and I’m committed to creating a space where everyone at RippleMatch can experience the same.
Here’s an example of how I might introduce myself during company-wide meeting:
“Hi everyone! For those of you who may not know me yet, my name is Tammy Hart, my pronouns are she/they, I’m comfortable going by either, and I am the DE&I lead here at RippleMatch.”
Action Item: Encourage employees to share their pronouns during introductions and provide platforms for them to update their pronouns in workplace accounts.
3. Encourage Employees to Avoid Making Assumptions About Their Colleagues’ Gender Identity
Inclusive language also means steering clear of assumptions and stereotypes when it comes to our colleagues’ gender identity or sexual orientation. Let’s remind everyone to be mindful of the language they use and to avoid making assumptions. The best approach is to let individuals self-identify and to use gender-neutral language whenever possible. By creating an environment where everyone feels free to express themselves authentically, we foster a workplace that celebrates diversity.
Exclusive: What does your wife do for work?
Inclusive: What does your partner do for work?
It’s also crucial to raise awareness about language that can unintentionally offend or be derogatory to the LGBTQIA+ community, as often people may not even realize they are using such language. To address this, open discussions about common slurs or derogatory terms are essential, emphasizing the significance of completely avoiding them. At RippleMatch, I take the lead in conducting inclusive language trainings where we invite open conversations and create a space for learning and growth.
Action Item: Encourage colleagues to be mindful of their language, avoiding assumptions and stereotypes, and initiate open discussions about common slurs or derogatory terms.
4. Use Gender-Inclusive Terms in the Workplace
Let’s also consider the power of using gender-inclusive terms to foster an inclusive environment. Rather than relying on gender-specific greetings like “ladies and gentlemen,” let’s choose phrases such as “everyone,” “colleagues,” or “team.” Similarly, when discussing relationships or families, it’s important to encourage the use of terms like “partner” instead of assuming a gendered term. By consciously incorporating gender-inclusive language, we create a workplace that embraces and respects everyone’s identity.
Exclusive: Hello ladies and gentlemen!
Inclusive: Hello everyone!
Action Item: Encourage the use of gender-inclusive terms such as “everyone,” “colleagues,” or “team” instead of gender-specific greetings. Promote the use of inclusive terms like “partner” when referring to relationships or families.
5. Provide Resources and Support Around Inclusive Language
We can also provide our employees with valuable resources to expand their knowledge about LGBTQIA+ topics. We can share LGBTQIA+-focused books, articles, and documentaries that promote understanding and awareness. Additionally, recommending external support networks and helplines can offer further assistance. Employee resource groups also play a vital role in nurturing a sense of community among LGBTQIA+ members within the workplace. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and empathy, we can create an environment that is truly inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Here are some of my favorite books on inclusive language usage and the LGBTQIA+ community:
- A Field Guide to Gender-Neutral Language: For Business, Families & Allies by Shelley R. Roth
- The Inclusive Language Handbook: A Guide to Better Communication and Transformational Leadership by Jackie Ferguson
- Be an Inclusion Ally: ABCs of LGBTQ+ by Lisa Koenecke
Action Item: Provide LGBTQIA+-focused resources, such as books, articles, and documentaries, to employees for further education. Recommend external support networks and encourage participation in ERGs.
As DE&I advocates, we hold the key to establishing a culture of inclusive language in our workplace. It’s crucial that we consistently utilize inclusive language in our communications, be it through emails, presentations, or meetings. We must lead by example and demonstrate our commitment to inclusivity. By setting the tone and leading with inclusivity, we inspire others to do the same.
Remember, this journey towards inclusivity is ongoing, and it’s important to keep educating ourselves, raising awareness, and celebrating diversity. Together we can create a workplace that embraces the LGBTQIA+ community with open arms and shows the power of inclusive language in action.
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