With a world that is ever-changing, it’s become increasingly necessary for HR leaders to place additional focus on DEI and adhere to a constantly evolving narrative. No matter how big or small the actions are, simple steps such as using more inclusive language within the workplace can play a significant role in setting the right tone for a more progressive and inclusive environment.
I had the opportunity to join the Dive In Festival Words That Unite: Mastering Inclusive Language session this week. This was highly informative, and there are some key highlights that I thought were worth sharing with our Frazer Jones HR community:
What can we do to use more inclusive language?
Avoid stereotypes and trigger words/phrases that are assumptive and judgmental.
- For example, “You’re too young/old to understand…” “Back in the day, we did it this way…” “We need someone young and tech-savvy…” “You look really young…” This can make an individual feel that they are being judged on certain things like their age, appearance and skills which can create an environment where someone may feel less willing to contribute due to fear of judgement.
- If you don’t feel comfortable using words to describe yourself, it’s likely stigmatising language. A certain condition should not define a person’s identity. Phrases such as “A person with depression” rather than “A depressed person” will less likely generalise the individual and make them feel more human rather than being attached or defined by the said word.
Create an environment that is inclusive and non-judgmental by asking the individual how they would like to be addressed.
- For example, what are their pronouns and what words are they comfortable with? Simple things like adding your pronouns to your email signature can also make a huge difference in showing awareness of diversity and make you more approachable to trans or non-binary individuals.
How can we do this?
Understand the reason behind our actions.
Usually, it’s a lack of knowledge that causes us to be fearful and apprehensive when approaching specific topics especially if it’s unfamiliar ground. We should be taking accountability and do our best to research more, educate ourselves and others around us, so that we understand the meaning behind why specific language is or is not inclusive rather than just following what others are doing.
It’s OK to mess up, it’s about taking the first steps in wanting to be more inclusive that’s important.
Be curious and don’t be afraid to ask someone what is important to them or how you should be addressing them, clarify with the person you’re engaging with what words you should be using. This not only shows that you are being respectful of them, but it also demonstrates the efforts on your end and the attitude you have about wanting to be more inclusive.
Be open-minded and show awareness.
It’s important to know your power, privilege and motivation. By doing the self-work and taking responsibility, we can channel this positive energy and take the necessary steps to be more inclusive of others, but this requires us to have the right mindset and open-mindedness that comes with it first.
“Diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) is a topic that is of vital importance to us at Frazer Jones and The SR Group and we are proud to be an incredibly diverse office and part of a highly diverse HR community here in Singapore. Internally, we launched “Belong25” – a project driven and owned by our employees that formed the backbone of our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives group-wide, with the intent of challenging one another, changing what doesn’t work and celebrating what does! Through ongoing employee listening and with the support of a specialist DEI consulting firm externally as well as strong and proactive employee networks and focus groups, we’ve uncovered our blind spots and helped build our strategy ensuring we are accountable for driving meaningful change. We aren’t naïve about the challenges ahead in the ever-evolving workplace, but we are committed to our goal of inclusion in all aspects of what we do, for everyone who works with and for us.”Charlotte Matthew – Executive Director, Frazer Jones Southeast Asia
Special thanks to the Dive in Festival team and AIHR team for hosting this informative session that allows us to continue to collaborate and share knowledge and best practices. We’ve certainly shared the latest tips and advice internally.
If you are a HR professional based in Singapore, and you wish to be informed about our latest HR insights or involved in our HR community networks and programmes, such as our CHRO “View from the top” or “60 seconds with a rising star” for HR Executive and/or high potential talent, do get in touch with one of our Frazer Jones team.