Inclusive Culture is Constantly Evolving

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The way we communicate in the workplace is constantly evolving. From the rise of emojis to the shift toward video conferencing, technology and social trends are constantly reshaping how we interact with our colleagues. But perhaps the most significant change in recent years is the growing emphasis on inclusive language.

Gone are the days of generic greetings like “Hey guys!” Inclusive language is about creating a space where everyone is treated with respect, regardless of background, identity, or ability. It’s a powerful tool for creating a sense of belonging and building a kind and thriving workplace.

However, keeping pace with the ever-evolving landscape of inclusive language can feel overwhelming. Terms we once considered acceptable might now be considered insensitive. New identities and communities emerge, bringing with them new terminology. How can we ensure our communication is truly inclusive and keeps up with the times?

The answer lies in embracing a growth mindset, a concept developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. A growth mindset posits that intelligence and ability aren’t fixed traits, but rather things that can be developed through effort and learning. This is crucial when it comes to thinking about inclusive language. Viewing our understanding of language as a journey, not a destination, can be helpful. Here’s how to cultivate a growth mindset in your approach to inclusive language:

1. Actively Listen and Learn: Be open to feedback from colleagues and learn from their experiences. If someone corrects your language, thank them for the opportunity to grow. Actively seek out resources and educational materials on inclusive communication. There are many online guides and organizations dedicated to promoting inclusive language. We love the Conscious Language Guide.

2. Embrace Curiosity: Instead of feeling defensive when challenged, approach feedback with curiosity. Ask questions, understand the reasoning behind terms, and be genuinely interested in learning about different identities. This encourages a culture of open communication and trust within your team.

3. Celebrate Mistakes: Remember, pobody’s nerfect! We all make mistakes. The key is not to be afraid of them, and instead to learn from them. If you accidentally use an outdated term, apologize sincerely and move forward. A growth mindset encourages us to see mistakes as opportunities for improvement.

Examples of Evolving Language:

  • Gendered Language: Terms like “manpower” or assuming everyone uses “he/him” pronouns are no longer appropriate. Use gender-neutral alternatives like “workforce” and share your pronouns to encourage others to share theirs if they’re comfortable doing so.
  • Disability: Moving from “disabled” to “person with a disability” emphasizes personhood and focuses on abilities rather than limitations.
  • Mental Health: Terms like “crazy” or “psycho” are not only insensitive but perpetuate negative stereotypes. Use terms like “stressed,” “anxious,” or “depressed” when appropriate, and encourage open communication about mental health.

The concept of a growth mindset isn’t just about language; it’s about embracing change in all aspects of our lives. In the workplace, a growth mindset allows us to be more adaptable and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable learning and growing together. When we fill our days working with a growth mindset, we open ourselves up to new perspectives, promoting innovation and creativity within our teams.

Here are some additional tips for staying up-to-date on inclusive language:

  • Follow relevant social media accounts dedicated to promoting inclusive language. To start with, follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and you’ll learn about other accounts from there!
  • Subscribe to inclusive language newsletters and blogs, such as the Conscious Style Guide mentioned above. They offer regular updates and insights on inclusive communication best practices.
  • Encourage open communication within your team. Create a space where colleagues can ask questions and provide feedback on each other’s language use.

So, ditch your comfort zone and learn new ways to communicate with your colleagues! You might be surprised at how much it strengthens your connection to the team and how much more empowered you feel in the process.