Inclusion is the act of creating an environment where all people feel valued and respected, regardless of their differences or background. In other words, it’s about recognizing and celebrating the diversity that exists within society.

What does inclusion mean?

Inclusion is the act of creating an environment where everyone is included and feels like they belong. The act is about recognizing and valuing differences that make each person unique to create a space to celebrate those differences.

Inclusion is not just about diversity; it’s also about equity and fairness, about creating a level playing field where everyone has the same opportunities.

Glossary of terms related to inclusion, inclusivity, and diversity

Several terms and key concepts are relevant to understand in relation to inclusion because it is a multifaceted concept.

To fully understand the term, below is a glossary of some of the most common terms related to inclusion.

What is inclusion? Definition and meaning

As covered above, inclusion is creating an environment where all individuals feel valued, respected, and included regardless of their differences. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of inclusion is the practice of including and accommodating those who have historically been excluded – because of their race, sexuality, gender, or ability. 

What is inclusivity? Definition and meaning

According to Merriam-Webster, inclusivity is the quality or state of being inclusive. 

In other words, inclusivity refers to actively promoting and valuing diversity and difference in society. 

To promote equity and social justice, inclusivity is essential to help break down barriers and eliminate stereotyping and discrimination in the form of racism, ableism, ageism, etc.

Inclusivity versus diversity

Inclusivity and diversity are often used interchangeably, though they are not the same thing.

Diversity refers to the differences that exist between people (including race, gender, culture, and religion). 

On the other hand, inclusivity is about actively valuing and promoting diversity and creating an environment where everyone feels included and valued despite their differences.

Racial inclusion – definition and explanation

Aptly named, racial inclusion is actively promoting and valuing diversity and difference in society specifically related to race. It is about creating an environment where individuals of all races feel welcome and included. 

Racial inclusion is essential to promote equity and social justice – for instance, in the workplace.

What is inclusion bias?

Inclusion bias refers to the tendency to favor individuals similar to ourselves or who we perceive as part of our in-group.

This type of bias can manifest in many ways, such as favoring people with whom we share similar backgrounds, cultures, or values. Thus, the bias can lead to the exclusion of people.

The importance of inclusive language

The language we use has a powerful impact on how we perceive ourselves and others. That is why inclusive language is essential for creating an environment where all individuals feel included.

Inclusive language is language that is free from conscious bias, stereotypes, or discrimination.

Below are some examples of inclusive language.

Gender-neutral language

Gender-neutral language promotes inclusivity and helps to avoid the assumption of gender identity. 

Examples of such language include:

Inclusive terms for diverse groups of people

Inclusive terms for diverse groups of people promote respect and inclusivity.

Examples of such language include:

Person-first language

Using person-first language can emphasize the person rather than the disability or condition, which promotes respect and dignity.

Examples of such language include:

Inclusive terms for people of different races, cultures, and religions

Inclusive terms for people of different races, cultures, and religions help promote inclusivity despite differences.

Examples of such language include:

It is important to note that inclusive language is not just about specific words; it is also about the overall tone and message of the language we use.  

Benefits of using inclusive language

According to research, inclusive language promotes well-being, encourages better knowledge transfers and decision-making, and helps build better relationships with clients and prospects from different backgrounds. 

Below are other good reasons why using inclusive language is important.

1. Shows respect for diversity

Individuals who use inclusive language demonstrate respect for diversity because it includes everyone regardless of gender, race, religion, or any other defining characteristics.

This helps create a more inclusive environment (for example, in the workplace) where everyone feels welcomed.

2. Helps combat discrimination

Language can be used as a tool to discriminate against certain groups of people (whether it’s in the form of conscious bias or unconscious bias). 

However, by using language that is free from bias, stereotypes, or discrimination, individuals can help to combat discrimination.

Inclusive language can also help challenge harmful stereotypes, as it helps promote a more positive and accurate representation of diverse groups.

3. Creates a sense of belonging

Another benefit of using inclusive language is that it can help create a sense of belonging for individuals who may otherwise feel excluded or marginalized. 

By using inclusive and welcoming language, one can create a more supportive and accepting environment for everyone.

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