I recently had an opportunity to talk with members of Internal Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Task Force at the City of Bend. I was sharing my experiences working in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). At some point during the conversation, I said, “Our words matter.”
As a communications professional, I understand the weight our words carry. I also know that the words we use to talk about DEI topics change. Talk about high potential for making mistakes and causing harm to members of marginalized communities!
That’s why it’s important for communications professionals to learn inclusive language and use it in their work. It can be a challenge to know the latest on inclusive language and how to incorporate it into your work. Fortunately, Crystal Borde wrote “Why Educating Employees on Inclusive Language Matters” for PRsay.
In her post, Borde shared five tips to help get started using inclusive language:
- Create a DE&I style guide.
- Seek expert counsel and review.
- Train team members on the DE&I style guide.
- Audit messaging and trainings periodically.
- Be open and transparent with audiences.
In the next year, I will be working on a DEI style guide for the City of Bend. I’ll be using Borde’s tips as I get that project going. My hope is the result will be a practical tool that reflects the Bend community and helps our local government use more inclusive language in all of our communications.