“Just because I may seem feminine, doesn’t make me any less than they, them” – Anonymous.
Gender is a complex spectrum with a wide range of pronouns, words, and connotations to compliment a person’s gender expression. People often identify themselves as different from their assigned gender at birth. When such people are categorized within the bounds of expected notes of femineity and masculinity, they feel uncomfortable.
When we talk about inclusive languages, we not only mean gender-neutral language for non-binary genders. Women at the workplace often witness a skew of toxic masculinity in the language. Not less than often, such practices may lead to a high level of discontent and dissatisfaction in the employees. Let’s look at some of the exclusive language practices in an organization.
- Gender-biased language – Giving preference to a particular gender, say masculinity over femineity, while using certain words—Lady chairman, female salesman, female landlord, etc.
- Gendered language – people’s tendency to fit everyone in the socially acceptable frame of either masculinity or femineity. Ex- Addressing emails with Dear sir/ma’am.
- Binary pronouns – using binary pronouns for everyone, even those who do not identify themselves with either of dominating genders. Ex- He/She for everyone.
- Microaggression – Comments that negatively target the marginalized groups which form a part of discrimination. Microaggression can be intentional or unintentional.
These activities have a negative toll on the person directed towards, and research says that the organizations not having gender-neutral language have a lower retention rate and a larger number of the employees quitting the organization. Therefore, it is essential to have policies in place for gender-neutral language.
What can an organization do to promote inclusive language?
- Sensitization programs – Companies can have gender sensitization programs to create awareness and educate the employees about the basic difference between gender, sex, gender identity, and gender expression. An aware employee is less likely to make unintentional use of the exclusive languages.
- Pronoun tokens – Companies can use pronoun tokens at various places to help employees identify the pronoun of the individual. Such tokens can be name tags, email identity, pronoun batches.
- Sensitization as a part of orientation – As important it is to create a gender-neutral environment in the organization, it is equally essential to preserve it. Adding sensitization into the orientation program can ensure that new coming employees don’t corrupt the organization’s environment.
- Empowering non-binary and female employees – Employees who are highly sensitive to microaggression can be empowered using various tools to stand for themselves and highlight the incident of microaggression.
Great Place to Work® offers an extensive assessment of workplace inclusion of diversity using several in-depth parameters called the Workplace Inclusion Index. By taking Workplace Inclusion Assessment, businesses can identify their shortcomings in adopting inclusive languages and components corrupting their inclusive environment.
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