How to get better at using inclusive language in the workplace

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Even people who champion diversity and are knowledgeable about the topic can be nervous about choosing the correct words to describe various aspects of personal identity. This is especially true when interacting with people whose personal identities they have not often encountered. How should I address the chief marketing officer who identifies as a queer Black woman or the new administrative intern from Oman who uses a service animal at work? These moments put us face-to-face with our own insecurities, assumptions, and lack of awareness. They force us to reflect on our unconscious biases and linguistic habits.

To put it frankly, inclusive language doesn’t often come naturally, even for people who believe in and advocate for the value of diversity. Using intentional, inclusive language requires us to continually examine our unconscious biases and linguistic customs. Learning to do it well requires education, mindfulness, and repetition. Practice helps us to avoid reinforcing harmful language habits and assumptions that can damage our relationships. Putting in the effort is well worth the potential results.

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