To mark National Inclusion Week, which in 2020 is from 28 September to 4 October, we’ve a blog post from IP Inclusive supporters Focal Point Training. They take a look at the importance of language in building an inclusive working culture, and provide some guidance for making your organisation’s internal policies more inclusive.
Focal Point established and deliver the Steps to Inclusion D&I review that has proved so popular among our Charter signatories. They have kindly offered a 10% discount for signatories, during National Inclusion Week, on a workshop to help you review and adapt your policies for greater inclusivity: see below.
Using inclusive language is part of the vital foundation for building a respectful and inclusive workplace. But it can be easy to fall into language that inadvertently excludes others and perpetuates stereotypes.
For example, talking about “manpower” or “man hours” or using phrases like “she’s nuts if she thinks that’s achievable”.
If we are to encourage more inclusive language across our organisations, one of the first places to start is with our policies. These set the standards we expect of our people, so they should be role modelling an inclusive approach in the way they are framed and communicated.
But how to start?
Our facilitator and D&I expert, Catherine Hamilton, shares these pointers to help check wording in policies, job descriptions and job adverts:
- Most recruitment firms should be advising on this area and many offer free advice on their websites. For example https://www.monster.co.uk/advertise-a-job/hr-resources/hr-strategies/attracting-talents/how-to-write-job-ads-with-diversity-and-inclusion/
- Word has this in its proofing tool:
- There are also free websites like Gender Decoder
- Services such as Textio
- Other organisations have produced advice on gender-inclusive drafting: see The United Nations’ guidance at https://www.un.org/en/gender-inclusive-language/guidelines.shtml and InterLaw Diversity Forum’s Guide to Gender-Neutral Drafting
Some organisations have an inclusive language policy – and even if you don’t have a separate policy it is valuable to add some guidance to a dignity at work or appropriate behaviour policy.
One of the services Focal Point provides is a workshop for HR and D&I leads to help them scrutinise their policies to ensure all are written in an inclusive way and that one doesn’t negatively impact on another. Rather than offering a policy writing service, we believe it is more valuable and more sustainable to develop the knowledge and skills internally, so that teams can update policies and write new ones, using the lens of inclusion.
If you are interested in talking to us about this, we are offering a 10% discount to IP Inclusive Charter signatories during National Inclusion Week.
Do give us a call on 01903 732 782 or email Tracy Powley ([email protected]) for an exploratory chat.
Page published on 28th September 2020
Page last modified on
Creating a reference document of best practices is an excellent way to assist and raise awareness of employees towards making inclusive language second nature in their work life. It may mean analysing all documentation to replace insensitive terms with neutral and more socially acceptable alternative terminology. IBM and Microsoft are currently making headlines for their efforts, on the heels of Twitter for example. https://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-microsoft-staff-rally-to-remove-racially-insensitive-language-from-products/
Hope that wasn't an IP Inclusive event. If it was, please accept our apologies. It's a very valid point you make - and particularly resonant in view of last week's furore about defence barrister Alexandra Wilson's treatment in court.
Great article! Very useful tools mentioned; I never realised Word had an inclusivity checker. Will be interested to try it. I was just thinking that perhaps another aspect of demonstrating inclusivity involves how we question people. For example, I finally managed to turn up to a Women in IP event (back in the days when big, face to face groups were ok!), which - although I'd been a member for a while - I hadn't before been free to. As I was struggling out of my coat, I was asked three times in different ways by the same woman whether I was a member. Initially, I just said yes, and gave my name. The other woman then queried: "But I've never seen you here before", in a doubting tone. So I explained why and said I was glad I could be here now. And then she said, as though cross-examining, "Do you actually work in IP?". By this time, I felt a number if emotions and none were very positive; they certainly didn't involve feeling included! In my experience, fostering inclusivity is often tied up with promoting feelings of belonging, and we can help people to feel included if we treat them as though they belong or at least could belong (as in a job application process), right from the start.