Inclusive Language – Paying attention to inclusive language is good for everyone… not just for LGBT colleagues…
This blog was created by Jon Norie, Food Services Commercial Manager, Sodexo UK & Ireland
When I talk to my colleagues about inclusive language in the LGBT arena, I usually get the same response, that it is something the ‘D & I Police’ use to keep everyone in check. Personally I love receiving that challenge as it gives me, a Sodexo LGBT role model, the opportunity to ‘engage’ our colleagues and explain it’s nothing to do with that at all.
I’ll be honest, it takes a lot to offend me but being clear about inclusive language is better for everyone, including myself, whether in or out of work. Until very recently the word ‘Tran’s’ made me nervous, it’s over 25 years since I first met a Trans person and a lot has changed. What do you say these days? The world and terminology change so fast it’s easy to fall foul of the correct term. The nerves aren’t around striking up a conversation; it’s about getting the language right. And why should the worry of getting the language right stop you from starting a conversation. For me getting the language wrong is no different than saying Miss instead of Mrs, not great but rarely will people be offended.
And from my experience saying nothing is worse than getting it wrong. I remember learning at the Sodexo Spirit of Inclusion training the importance of intent and impact, if your intentions are good the impact is unlikely to be negative.
A recent positive example of inclusive language was recently shared on the programme First Dates. A young man participated on the show that happened to have Tourette’s. He entered the restaurant and sat at the bar and introduced himself to the bar person. Immediately the bar person asked if he had Tourette’s. The response of course was yes, immediately the ice was broken and the conversation moved straight on. Twitter soon lit up with positive comments from across the country and the contestant himself was heaped with admiration. Whilst the story here isn’t about LGBT inclusive language it showed power of getting inclusive language right.
As an organisation we are committed to engaging our colleagues, clients and customers across every segment, at every level. If we worry about what word, what name, the right terminology, and that stops an interaction just think who we’re not engaging. Engagement is for everyone not just those you’re comfortable to engage with.
It doesn’t end with individuals saying the right thing, as leaders in addition to having a responsibility to use inclusive language, we should also encourage those we lead to do the same and challenge those who get it wrong. After all inclusive means inclusive.