The Significance of Inclusive Gender Language in the Workplace
Author: Mike Scaletti
Every June, communities across the globe commemorate Pride Month, a celebration of the resilience, strength, and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. This month offers us an opportune moment to reflect on the principles of inclusivity and equality that should permeate every aspect of our lives, especially in our workplaces. One key way to embody these principles in the workplace is through the adoption of inclusive gender language.
Inclusive gender language means using terms that respect and acknowledge people's self-identified genders. It's not merely a new trend or a matter of political correctness, but a fundamental way to affirm individuals' identities and to cultivate a more inclusive and diverse environment.
In many cultures, language is gendered. It forms a core part of our identities and how we understand others and ourselves in the world. However, traditional gendered language often fails to recognize and respect the spectrum of gender identities that exist. Instead, it reinforces a binary understanding of gender, leading to the exclusion and marginalization of those who identify outside of these binaries. As a result, non-binary, genderqueer, and transgender individuals often find themselves marginalized in conversations and left feeling unseen and unacknowledged.
Adopting inclusive gender language in the workplace is a critical step toward mitigating this marginalization. This can be as straightforward as using gender-neutral terms like 'they/them' when a person's pronouns are unknown, or when referring to a role or job that can be filled by a person of any gender. It also includes respecting and using a person's self-identified pronouns, whether they are she/her, he/him, they/them, or something else.
Implementing inclusive gender language requires conscientious effort and mindfulness. It's about fostering a culture of respect where everyone's identity is acknowledged and affirmed. In addition to promoting diversity and inclusion, it sends a powerful message: 'We see you, we respect you, and you belong here.'
It's essential to remember that inclusive language is only one aspect of creating a truly inclusive workplace. It must be part of a broader strategy that includes comprehensive diverse hiring practices, supportive HR policies, and a commitment to a workplace culture that respects and values all employees regardless of who they are.
Moreover, organizations need to remember that the adoption of inclusive language should not just be performative or limited to Pride Month. It should be part of an ongoing commitment to inclusivity, underpinning the organization's ethos and values all year round.
This Pride Month, let's embrace inclusive gender language and take a step forward in making our workplaces more accepting and understanding. Remember, language is a powerful tool, and with it, we can shape our workplaces to be more diverse, inclusive, and respectful. Let's use this tool wisely to make our workplaces a space where everyone, regardless of their gender identity, feels seen, respected, and valued. After all, diversity isn't just about representation; it's about celebration and acceptance of all our unique identities, and that's what Pride Month truly encapsulates.