On 29 June, we held the second workshop in our “Your People, Your Potential – Tools for Impact” workshop series. This workshop focussed on inclusive language. The participants learned about the German Informatics Society’s experience with developing and implementing an inclusive language guide. We had seven different languages represented in the workshop (English, Greek, Icelandic, German, Dutch, Slovak, and Latvian), and thus heard very interesting perspectives and ideas. Each language has its own specifics when it comes to gender, especially in very ‘gendered’ languages where many things, such as job positions, are by default in the masculine form. But even in less gendered languages, such as English, there are many challenges to be truly inclusive. However, during the discussion, it emerged that some issues are common to all languages. Therefore, some key takeaways for inspiration were:
Even the most aware among us are prone to using exclusive language out of habit. All of us should strive to become aware of our own bias and pay attention to what we say. Habits are powerful, but new habits can be acquired with the proper effort.
With your example (and maybe gentle correction), inspire others to use inclusive language. Point out each other’s errors in your teams at work and in your friends’ circles; become each other’s allies.
Visual communication, especially for companies, is just as important as language. Organisations are advised to choose the images for their communications campaigns mindfully, taking care not to enforce gender stereotypes and be as inclusive as possible.
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