Inclusive writing is about avoiding discrimination and promoting diversity through respectful and inclusive language choices that recognize and respect the identities of all people.
What is inclusive writing?
It is an approach to language that avoids excluding or discriminating against individuals or groups based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that defines their identities.
This means being mindful of the words and structures you use to communicate with a diverse audience.
In other words, it’s about making everyone feel represented, welcomed, and respected.
The different forms of inclusive writing
It encompasses any aspect of diversity and identity. This means that there are several forms of inclusive writing that can be used to promote diversity and inclusion in language.
Below are some examples of different types of writing inclusively.
This style aims to avoid gender-based discrimination by using gender-neutral terms or by using both masculine and feminine terms when referring to a group of people.
For example, instead of saying “firemen”, you can use “firefighters”. Or instead of saying “congressman”, you can use “legislator”.
2. Race and ethnicity
This type of inclusive writing aims to avoid perpetuating racial or ethnic stereotypes by using language that recognizes and respects the diversity of different racial and ethnic groups.
For example, instead of saying “colored” or “oriental”, you can use more appropriate terms like “person of color” or “Asian”.
This aims to avoid ageism and age-based discrimination by using language that is respectful and inclusive of people of all ages.
For example, instead of saying “elderly” or “senior citizen”, you can use more appropriate terms like “older adult” or “retiree”.
This type of writing aims to avoid ableism and disability-based discrimination by using language that is respectful and inclusive of people with disabilities.
For example, instead of “handicapped”, you can say “people with disabilities”.
This type aims to avoid heteronormative assumptions and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people by using language that recognizes and respects gender diversity and sexual orientations.
For example, you can say “they” or “ze” instead of “he or she”.
How do you write inclusively?
Inclusive writing can significantly aid as a tool if you’re aiming for inclusivity in the workplace (or workplace diversity in general).
To write inclusively, you need to be aware of the potential unconscious biases and assumptions that can be embedded in language. Instead, you need to actively choose words and structures that are respectful and inclusive of all people.
Here are some tips for writing inclusively:
- Be gender-neutral: Avoid using masculine or feminine pronouns when referring to a person whose gender is unknown. Instead, use gender-neutral terms like “they” or “them”.
- Avoid stereotypes: Be mindful of stereotyping language or language that reinforces generalizations about certain groups of people. For example, avoid using words like “crazy”, “hysterical”, or “bossy” when you describe women.
- Use person-first language: Always put the person before the condition or characteristic. For example, say “a person with a disability” instead of “a disabled person”.
- Respect people’s identities: Use the terms people prefer to use to describe themselves (including their gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. You can always ask politely and respectfully.