We've talked about it before, but diversity, inclusion, and belonging shouldn't be about filling a quota. Instead, the goal should be to foster a true sense of belonging among your team, which is likely filled with people from all backgrounds.
One way to do this is by using inclusive language.
Whether it's intentional or not, we all carry implicit biases in our everyday language. However, it's important to make a conscious effort to avoid this.
This isn't just the right thing to do. It also makes good business sense.
In fact, over 70% of students said they prefer a company that is diverse, inclusive and makes them feel included regardless of race, geographic location, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, and appearance.
Additionally, creating a sense of belonging can lead to greater retention rates and even result in higher customer satisfaction.
So, how can you use more inclusive language?
Below, we'll review the top tools that can automate this process for you and resources that can help you use more inclusive language.
During an allyship meeting at HubSpot, we discussed tools that help people use more inclusive language.
A colleague brought up a Slackbot, Better Allies. This Slackbot can help you shift your language to be more inclusive.
The tool was inspired by the book Better Allies by Karen Catlin. This book can help you spot situations where you can create more inclusive culture.
The Slackbot will automatically flag non-inclusive language and make alternate suggestions. You can even customize the tool by adding your own words to avoid and alternate suggestions.
For example, I want to remove the words “guys” and “crazy” from my vocabulary. With this tool, I can put those words in the Slackbot and then include suggestions for myself to use instead.
2. Inclusive Language Guides
An inclusive language guide is a document that will advise you on terms to avoid and alternative terms to use. The goal is to use more inclusive language that doesn't have biases, slang, or discriminatory terms.
While an inclusive language guide won't help you automate this process, you can use this resource to inform your automation process. For example, you can add terms from an inclusive language guide to your Better Allies Slackbot.
If your team doesn't have an inclusive language guide, we suggest you create one. Our inclusive language guides at HubSpot have sections on Gender, LGBTQIA+, Race, Ethnicity, Culture, and Accessibility.
Here are some great examples to get you started:
- Buffer's Inclusive Language Guide for Startups and Tech
- Business Insider's Race and Ethnicity Inclusive Language Guide
- Everyday Feminism's Inclusive Language Guide on Ableism and Homophobia
- NASAA Inclusive Language Guide
- HubSpot's Guide on Gender Neutral Pronouns
- How to Talk About Socioeconomic Status
- Religion Stylebook
- Self's Weight and Health Style Guide
- Google's Guide for Developers in Writing Inclusive Documentation
- Writing About Sexual Violence
- Gender-Based Violence Language Guide
- GLAAD Media Guide
3. Company Bots
To automate your inclusive language, you can create a bot that will alert you when you use exclusionary terms.
As you saw above, Better Allies created one to help you on Slack. However, you might want a bot when you're using Google docs or other platforms.
In that case, you can create your own. At HubSpot, we have a bot that HubSpotters can download on Chrome that will review content for HubSpot's style guide.
As a company, you produce a lot of content. Your employees have to write a lot. To automate your process, you can use Textio.
Textio is an augmented writing platform that can give your team a score on the content they write. Plus, it provides suggestions on how to improve.
This includes bias interruption, expanded language insights, and team analytics. The whole point is to help you write more insightful, inclusive content.
You can use this for recruiting purposes or just to review your company blogs.
A quick way to check your language for gender bias is to use this gender decoder. You can just copy and paste your content in it and get quick results.
While this was created to analyze job ads to ensure you use inclusive language, you can put any content in there.
I even put this blog content in to see the results. The tool told me, “This uses more words that are subtly coded as feminine than words that are subtly coded as masculine (according to the research). Fortunately, the research suggests this will have only a slight effect on how appealing this is to men, and will encourage women.”
While using tools to help automate your inclusive language process is important, it's also necessary to focus efforts on continued learning.
That's why we recommend watching this short (only 18 minutes) TEDTalk on the urgency of intersectionality. This talk discusses the reality of race and gender bias so we can understand how the two combine and create more harm.
Ultimately, the goal is to broaden your understanding of intersectionality and implicit bias so you can recognize it when it occurs and speak up for victims of prejudice.
7. MTV Decoded
For an even shorter way to continue your education (5 minutes), you can watch this great video from MTV on phrases that have a racist origin.
Again, this is an easy and quick way to continue learning about implicit bias so you can adjust your language to be more inclusive.
You can consider sending these types of short videos to your employees to encourage them to use more inclusive language and continue learning.
A great way to see if you're using inclusive language is to test yourself on implicit biases. This test will measure unconscious bias.
This is an excellent step to take so you can examine, understand, and recognize your own biases and when you're using exclusionary language.
We recommend sending this to people on your team as well. This will help your whole team begin to understand and use more inclusive language as a whole.
Taking active steps to use inclusive language is an important part of allyship. Additionally, it's important for your employees and customers to see that you participate in and encourage others to continue learning about other people's experiences.