Inclusive Language – More than just a word game: A guest blog from Beverly Jurenko

As a diversity consultant and trainer, I do provide a workshop titled “Diversity of Language and Communications.” People from different backgrounds, cultures, countries and even generations have different styles of communicating, which can often complicate optimal business communications. Recently I connected with DEI practitioner and executive coach Beverly Jurenko, Inside Edge Consulting LLC, who shared this excellent resource with me.

What comes to mind when you hear the term “Inclusive Language?” For some, it’s an opportunity. For others, an annoyance. Objectively. inclusive language is a powerful tool that demonstrates our way of being with others. Once you understand it, and teach yourself to use it, you will see the positive way we can impact others with it.

So what is inclusive language? Inclusive language is a form of communication that uses words, phrases, expressions, metaphors, and sentences that are welcoming to everyone. It avoids incorporating assumptions that may exclude people so that no one feels left out. We are all different, and there are many dimensions of diversity. Everyone’s voice is important.

Inclusive language encompasses emails, messages, marketing materials, social media, cards, websites, and other forms of communication, such as imagery. Sometimes the use of language that is not inclusive is intentional, but it is also often inadvertent. Bad intentions are not always present in the heart of the person who used language that excluded someone.

Inclusive language is important because when we communicate, we want to be effective. We want to reach our audience, whether we are speaking to someone we saw in the cafeteria, or giving a presentation at a conference. We want to engage people, not turn them away, because when we tum them away, they close their ears and they may not absorb the rest of all the important things we want to say. When we work to be aware of our differences, and promote inclusion in our language, we show sensitivity and respect to others. Here are a few examples:

• When talking about disability issues, lead with the “person” first. Try saying “the man with a hearing disability” rather than “the deaf man,” because people with a disability want to be known as a person first, and not only for their disability.

• When referring to groups or work roles, avoid gender specific terms. Say “chairperson” rather than “chairman,” because the chair is not always going to be male. Try out “Hello everyone” instead of “Hello ladies and gentlemen,” because not everyone identifies as male or female.

• Avoid using words or terms like “blacklist” that imply a color associated with a group of people is undesirable.

• If discussing groups and subgroups that relate to majority/minority sets, use the term “typical” rather than “normal,” because who wants to be tagged the opposite of normal (abnormal) simply by being a member of a smaller group?

• If struggling to embrace the “why” in all of this, I encourage you to think about this quote from a 19th century theologian named Tryon Edwards:

Thoughts lead on to purposes;
Purposes go forth unto actions;
Actions form habits;
Habits decide character;
And character fixes our destiny.

Words are powerful, and being inclusive in your speech makes people feel more comfortable about being themselves when they are around you. Inclusion lowers stress, which brings out the best in us. It takes only a very small amount of effort to use inclusive language, and the benefits abound. Just give it a try, and then watch how people around you bloom, grow, and seek to be in your presence.

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Beverly Jurenko (MBA, certified DEI practitioner, and member of the International Coaching Federation) supports people to build a world filled with inclusion so everyone can shine. Through Inside Edge Consulting LLC, she provides Leadership and Career Coaching and Diversity Equity & Inclusion Consulting. Schedule a free 30-minute Discovery Session online at to learn more about how you can embrace inclusion, leverage compassion, and inspire others. You can email her at [email protected], and follow her on lnstagram at @beverly.insideedge.coaching.

Facebook Marketing Gone Awry – A Tale of Venom and Hate

Facebook needs to do a lot more to stop hate speech, especially hate speech attacking marginalized communities.

Time for me to rant a little.

This will probably be my last blog I pay to promote on my business Facebook.  Why?  Part of my marketing budget goes toward promoting my diversity blogs on Facebook, but now I am increasingly being bombarded by hate – which Facebook refuses to acknowledge or dialogue with me about. Perhaps this blog and my story of Facebook and hate will be read by some Facebook professionals who will want to engage with me and see if this can be fixed… I do have some positive, constructive suggestions.

Let me explain the situation.

I am a diversity consultant and trainer and write 2-3 blogs per month on a variety of topics. They include addressing racism, the value of diversity, being an ally, supporting the LGBTQ community, hiring veterans, addressing Islamaphobia and more. Then I write a one or two sentence summary with a link and pay Facebook to push the ad to people interested in these particular topics.

Now here is the issue … when I specify that I want a blog summary and link targeted to people interested in anti-racism, or the LGBTQ community, or diversity trainers for example, I am trying to appeal to people who are interested in those topics with a desire to learn or find resources. But the Facebook algorithm pushes the ad to all people who have commented or engaged around those topics, including those who write nasty comments about those topics.

Now whenever I promote a blog on a diversity topic, I often receive 20 – 30 comments, 95% of them nasty and hateful. A small handful voice disagreement in a respectful way that encourages a dialogue, but a vast majority are hateful nasty comments about the group I am writing about, or personal attacks telling me I can go to a certain very hot place, or to copulate with myself (I assume you get the drift.)

Why are there so many toxic people who only want to spread poison everywhere?

Some of these comments are truly over the top. Examples:
• When one young gay man who got fired from his job for being gay  found my blog encouraging, another reader called him a faggot who deserved to be fired, and should go to hell. (I reported this to Facebook and they replied this did NOT violate their community standards.)
• In response to a blog fighting Islamaphobia, someone posted a photo of an Arab holding a severed baby head declaring that the intent of all Muslims in the US was to kill our children.
• One women summarily declaring that transgender people are all mentally ill.

Often I will check the Facebook feed of the individuals who write this stuff, and normally 80% of their feeds are nasty hateful attacks of people who are not like them. Their Facebook feeds are full of hate, nastiness and poison.

Sadly, having diverse people who may read my posts, but then see these harmful nasty comments before I get a chance to remove them, may cause more harm than good, so I think I will stop using Facebook marketing. I have tried to engage Facebook on this issue, and I even have some suggestions in how to fix and address this, but Facebook refuses to engage with me.  We really do need a safe space for nurturing forums for marginalized communities void of hate and attacks.

Thanks for listening to and reading this rant.