peopleBARR: Embracing Inclusive Language—A Step Towards Unity and Respect

September 6, 2023 |

by: Al Neptune, program coordinator, BARR People & Culture 

BARR Advisory’s People and Culture Team continuously works to explore how we can improve our culture here BARR. They do this by sharing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) topics and tips that can better shape our world. Today, we explore a subject that’s not just about words, but also about creating a more harmonious society: inclusive language. 

What is Inclusive Language?

Let’s start from the beginning. Inclusive language is about using words and phrases that don’t exclude or offend certain groups of people based on their gender, race, ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic. It’s a way to ensure our communication respects and includes everyone, regardless of their background.

Why Does Inclusive Language Matter?

Inclusive language is a powerful tool for fostering understanding, respect, and equality. When we use inclusive language, we acknowledge the diversity around us and show how we value every individual’s unique identity. It’s like creating a warm and welcoming environment where everyone feels seen and heard.

Imagine this: you walk into a room, and someone greets you with a smile and a genuine “Hello, friend!” Now, how does that make you feel? That’s the magic of inclusive language – it creates a sense of belonging and acceptance.

The Journey Toward Inclusive Language

Making the shift toward inclusive language might feel like learning a new dance, but it’s really about taking small steps. And here are a few steps to get you started with:

  • Educate Yourself. Start by educating yourself about different identities and experiences. Learn about the terminology preferred by different communities, and stay up-to-date with changes and evolutions in language.
  • Avoid Gender Stereotypes. English has a habit of assigning gender to objects and professions. Let’s break free from that. Instead of saying “fireman” or “stewardess,” use “firefighter” and “flight attendant” to include everyone.
  • Use Gender-Neutral Pronouns. When referring to someone whose gender you’re not sure of, or someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, use “they/them” pronouns. It’s a simple way to show respect for their identity.
  • Respect Preferred Names and Titles. Call people by the names and titles they prefer. If someone goes by “Mx.” instead of “Mr.” or “Ms.,” honor their choice.
  • Focus on Abilities. Instead of using terms like “disabled person,” use “person with a disability.” This places the person before the condition and emphasizes their humanity.
  • Be Mindful of Cultures. Language evolves across cultures. What’s appropriate in one culture might not be in another. Always strive for cultural sensitivity and respect.

The Ripple Effect of Inclusive Language

When you embrace inclusive language, you’re creating a ripple effect of positivity. As you start using it, others around you might notice and follow suit. It’s like planting seeds of kindness that grow into a beautiful garden of understanding.

Inclusive Language in Everyday Life

Inclusive language isn’t just about big speeches or formal documents; it’s a mindset that you can integrate into your everyday conversations. Whether you’re chatting with friends, posting on social media, or sending an email, every word you choose matters.

So, let’s spread the love, one word at a time. Let’s embrace the power of inclusive language and create a world where diversity is celebrated and everyone feels cherished.

Learn more about how we celebrate DEIB here at BARR Advisory.

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