Using inclusive language improves the employee experience and increases likelihood of talent retention

As inclusion and the employee experience continue to gain traction amid rapidly shifting organizational priorities, inclusive language plays a key role in enabling workplaces where everyone thrives, suggests a new guide from global HR research and advisory firm McLean & Company.

According to the firm’s research, employees who feel their organizations support an inclusive environment where individual differences are valued and respected are more than twice as likely to expect to remain at the organization, indicating inclusion is correlated with improved talent retention.

To support HR and communications professionals in their efforts to use inclusive language in organizational communications, McLean & Company recently published its Inclusive Language Guide.

The firm’s guide explains inclusive language avoids expressions that stereotype, stigmatize, trivialize, or exclude individuals or populations based on identity traits and characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, class, or age. Instead, inclusive language is the intentional use of words and phrases that value and honor identities and experiences, address inequities, help to establish respectful learning environments, and foster interactions that are welcoming to all, according to the University of British Columbia.

“Inclusive language contributes to and reinforces inclusion as an organizational priority, establishes a sense of belonging, and fosters psychological safety at work for employees,” says Elysca Fernandes, director of HR Research & Advisory Services at McLean & Company. “While implementing more inclusive language in organizational communications, it is important to remember that inclusive language is not about chasing perfection. It’s impossible to know all the intricacies regarding inclusive language because there is no one way to be inclusive. It is highly contextual and requires adapting the approach to differing contexts and audiences over time.”

Though the focus on inclusion within the workplace has increased in recent years, many organizations struggle to identify where to begin when embedding inclusive language in their communications. However, a failure to prioritize inclusive language in written communications is a clear signal that the organization does not prioritize inclusion and belonging for its employees, experts say.

As written mediums are some of the main tools organizations use to communicate what they prioritize and value, McLean & Company advises that neglecting the use of inclusive language is a missed opportunity to contribute to building an engaging and welcoming workplace culture. To guide HR leaders through embedding inclusive language in their organizational written communications, the new industry resource from McLean & Company has been organized into three sections:

• Overview of inclusive language and how embedding it into written communications benefits all key individuals.

• Principles of inclusive language.

• Inclusive language best practices across demographic groups.

As HR leaders continue to guide their organizations toward a more inclusive approach to the future of work, McLean Company reminds them that making changes to ensure written communications are inclusive impacts both communication creators and recipients. As such, the shift to more inclusive language needs to be treated with intentionality and care, much like any other significant or impactful organizational change.

To access the full resource, visit Inclusive Language Guide.

McLean Company is a division of Info-Tech Research Group.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.