We’ve talked about this before, but diversity, inclusion and belonging shouldn’t be about meeting a quota. Instead, the goal should be to foster a real sense of belonging to your team, which is likely to be made up of people from different backgrounds.
One way to do this is by using inclusive language.
Intentionally or not, we all have implicit biases in our everyday language. However, it is important to make a conscious effort to avoid this.
This is not just the thing. It also makes good business sense.
In fact, over 70% of students said they prefer a company that is diverse, inclusive, and feels included regardless of race, geography, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status or appearance.
Additionally, creating a sense of belonging can lead to higher customer retention rates and even higher customer satisfaction.
So how can you use a broader language?
The following are the main tools that can be used to automate this process for you, as well as resources that will enable you to use a broader language.
Including language tools
- Better allies
- Including phrasebook
- Corporate bots
- Gender decoder
- TEDTalk with Kimberlé Crenshaw
- MTV decrypted
- Implicit preload test
1. Better allies
During an ally meeting at HubSpot, we discussed tools to help people use broader language.
A colleague brought up a slackbot, Better Allies. This slackbot can help you make your language more inclusive.
The tool was inspired by Karen Catlin’s book Better Allies. This book can help you identify situations in which you can create a more inclusive culture.
The Slackbot automatically marks a non-inclusive language and makes alternative suggestions. You can even customize the tool by adding your own words to avoid and replace suggestions.
For example, I want to remove the words “guys” and “crazy” from my vocabulary. This tool allows me to paste these words into the Slackbot and then paste in suggestions for myself that I want to use instead.
2. Includes phrasebook
An inclusive phrasebook is a document that advises you on terms to avoid and alternative terms to use. The aim is to use a broader language that does not contain prejudice, slang or discriminatory terms.
While a comprehensive phrasebook will not help you automate this process, you can use this resource to educate your automation process. For example, you can add terms from a comprehensive phrasebook to your Better Allies Slackbot.
If your team doesn’t have a comprehensive phrasebook, we recommend creating one. Our inclusive phrasebooks at HubSpot have sections on gender, LGBTQIA +, race, ethnicity, culture, and accessibility.
Here are some great examples to get you started:
3. Company bots
To automate your inclusive language, you can create a bot that notifies you when you use exclusion terms.
As you saw above, Better Allies created one to help you out with Slack. However, you may want a bot if you are using Google Docs or other platforms.
In that case, you can create your own. HubSpot has a bot that HubSpotters can download on Chrome and that checks the content of the HubSpot 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 advanced writing platform that allows your team to get a rating for the content they write. It also contains suggestions for improvement.
This includes bias breaks, advanced language skills, and team analysis. The whole point is to help you write more insightful, comprehensive content.
You can use this for recruiting purposes or just to review your company blogs.
5. Gender decoder
A quick way to check your language for gender discrepancies is to use this gender decoder. You can just copy and paste your content for quick results.
While this was created to analyze job advertisements to make sure you are using inclusive language, you can post whatever content you want there.
I even pasted this blog content to see the results. The tool told me, “It uses more words that are subtly coded as feminine than words that are subtly coded as masculine (according to research). Fortunately, research suggests this has little effect on how attractive this is to men and will encourage women. “
6. TEDTalk with Kimberlé Crenshaw
While using tools to automate your inclusive language process is important, it is also necessary to focus on further learning.
For this reason, we recommend watching this short (only 18 minutes) TEDTalk on the urgency of intersectionality. This talk will discuss the reality of race and gender prejudice so we can understand how the two bond and cause more harm.
Ultimately, the goal is to broaden your understanding of intersectionality and implicit bias so you can recognize it when it occurs and advocate for victims of prejudice.
7. MTV decoded
For an even shorter way to continue your education (5 minutes), check out this great video from MTV with phrases that are of racist origin.
Again, this is an easy and quick way to learn further about implicit bias, so that you can customize your language to be more inclusive.
You can send these types of short videos out to your employees to encourage them to use a wider language and keep learning.
8. Implicit preload test
A good way to determine if you are using inclusive language is to test yourself for implicit bias. This test measures unconscious bias.
This is an excellent step for you to examine, understand, and recognize your own prejudices, and when using negative language.
We recommend sending this out to people on your team as well. This will help your entire team understand and use a broader language as a whole.
Taking active steps to use inclusive language is an important part of the alliance. Additionally, it is important for your employees and customers to participate and encourage others to continue learning about other people’s experiences.