D&I nomenclature: It’s not just about what we shouldn’t say

In striving to elevate the workplace through diversity and inclusion, we might try only to quash language that has no business being in business. The effort requires more care and cognizance.

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If we are not intentionally inclusive in our communications, then we are probably discriminating unintentionally.

I often say that in my workshops, and it speaks to understanding that everyone has unconscious bias: We’re still good people, and it’s not enough to just be aware of bias. We must be proactive in making more inclusive choices in our behavior and, most specifically as professional communicators, in the words we choose. We have a responsibility to role-model inclusive language.

It amazes me how violent the English language is in the vernacular: “Kill two birds with one stone,” “I could slit my wrist reading this email,” “Kill me now; I have to go to that meeting,” “can you take a stab at a draft?”

It’s also quite male-tilted: “Hey, guys, let’s begin the meeting,” as well as chairman, fireman, men at work (the construction sign, not the band).

If we don’t pause and think about what we say, we’re often reinforcing stereotypes that can work against ourselves, our leaders and our employees.

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