Pride Month is over, and companies have retired their rainbow-colored attempts at allyship. It’s super easy for companies and organizations to slap a rainbow on a product and pretend to care about the LGBTQIA+ community for a month. But it’s 2022, and performative allyship doesn’t cut the bill anymore (not that it ever should have). We’re here to help you get The Salary You Deserve and find a workplace that celebrates pride daily. So how can organizations create a genuinely inclusive workplace?
Read on for some super basic and easy-to-apply tips for being inclusive in the workplace!
Pronouns are often overlooked because they seem like a small part of communication. Except they aren’t a minor part, pronouns are everywhere. I dare you to count all the pronouns you encounter in a day – it will be A LOT. The truth is it’s difficult to have a conversation with anyone without using pronouns. You can’t avoid them, so why not embrace them?
Take this moment to think about how you would feel if someone used the wrong pronouns for you. How would you feel if they did it every single time? I bet you would feel terrible like they were disrespecting you on purpose. This is what some people experience every day especially when they’re at work.
It’s essential not to assume what someone’s pronouns are. People can create more inclusive workplaces by asking everyone to share their pronouns. Some companies may ask potential employees their pronouns during the interview or onboarding process. But this can leave employees wondering what pronouns to use with their new coworkers. Solving this issue can be as easy as having everyone introduce themselves (including their pronouns) at the beginning of company meetings. Another way to introduce pronouns to the workplace is to have everyone include their pronouns in their email signatures. It will feel more natural for everyone and create a more positive environment. Keep in mind that if a company can’t get down with pronouns, they probably won’t honor you as an employee.
I had a manager who referred to fem-presenting employees as ‘Miss” followed by their name. Regardless of whether he was using the term with the right employees, being called ‘Miss’ anything feels incredibly demeaning. I was lucky to be ambiguous enough that he would only refer to me by my name, but it made me cringe each time he said it. Using inclusive language creates a better work environment, especially for those who aren’t cisgender men. There’s more to inclusive language than pronouns and other identifying terms.
Other language-based changes can make a workplace more inclusive. Several common words and phrases are gender-specific. But there are gender-neutral alternatives to replace them in the company’s vocabulary. Rather than saying someone is the ‘best man for the job,’ one should say ‘best person for the job.” Instead of addressing groups as ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ one should say ‘folks,’ ‘team,’ or ‘everyone.’ Here are some more examples of common words and their alternatives:
We all can agree that it sucks to get called out for something we could improve on. It’s a lot easier to go through life thinking that everything we do is 100% correct all the time. However, the truth is that we can all be working to improve ourselves. This includes improving the language we use on a daily basis. Some people might take more time to make their vocabulary more inclusive. And some will need help understanding the importance of using inclusive language. It’s essential to have these conversations one-on-one. This way, no one feels called out and gets defensive.
Unfortunately, some people disagree with the need for a more inclusive workplace. There are a few great tips for having conversations with people you disagree with. The two most important of these are staying calm and not assuming the person has bad intentions. Getting people to listen is impossible when you don’t remain calm. They’ll get defensive and shut out any logical arguments. You might as well try to convince a brick wall to melt.
We also need to remember that not everyone’s opinions come with bad intentions. Some people are just misinformed. Hopefully, this is the case for most people, and they’ll be open to having a conversation about the importance of using language to be more inclusive. When people use the wrong pronouns, they are being disrespectful whether they mean to or not. It’s an excellent opportunity to revisit the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember how much it would suck if someone used the wrong pronouns when referring to you? That’s why inclusive language is so important.
These tips are just a starting point for embracing inclusivity in the workplace. There are likely many more policies or practices to update for a more inclusive culture. Few things are worse than having to work in a place that doesn’t make sure its employees feel included. If we have to be somewhere, we should feel wanted. Better yet, we should feel honored there! For more information about getting The Salary You Deserve, check out our other blogs!
Have a Super Day!
For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I graduated during the pandemic with an English degree and no idea how to get a job that I would love. Now I get to write about what I've learned from the obstacles I've overcome.