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How to Structure Inclusive Language Training

Inclusive language has been steadily gaining traction at a grassroots level across companies in multiple industries – usually when different Employee Resource Groups (ERG) take the initiative to educate the rest of the company on how certain language choices are exclusive to the communities they represent. Rarely do firms already have training available to teach inclusive language from a holistic point of view which begs the question: what does a cohesive inclusive language training that supports all communities look like?

The Critical Steps to Building Inclusive Language Training

Step 1: The Business Case

The first element in an inclusive language training is similar to other trainings – the business case. In order for changes to quickly take root in corporate spaces, a business case must be made for leadership to understand the business benefits to the training.

Study after study has proven the benefits that inclusivity can bring to a business. From improving innovation to reducing employee turnover, the environment of diversity, inclusion, and equity fueled by conscious efforts in programs such as inclusive language training cannot be ignored. So be sure to demonstrate that value to leadership in building a program for inclusive language training. Also, don’t discount the human element of your training, appeal to the pathos of the leadership team by providing testimonials or examples where exclusive language has been harmful on the mental well-being of employees.

Step 2: The Groundwork

Building an organizational approach to inclusive language begins with education. In order to sustain the lessons from your inclusive language training, it’s important that your audience understands the direct role language plays in promoting inclusivity and conversely, exclusivity.

Be sure to elevate the dialogue to a highest level and discuss how language inherently shapes our ways of thinking. Provide examples for your attendees of different connotation choices to further drive the point home. It’s also critical that your audience understands the continuous nature of inclusive language. Demonstrate the intentionality that is needed to promote inclusive language.

Step 3: Examples

Help the attendees in your inclusive language training realize a deeper grasp of the concept by providing examples from various minority or marginalized communities. This could range from the LGBTQ+ community to the disability community to different racial or ethnic groups.

The examples can be interspersed throughout the training to reinforce concepts across the program. The real world connotation can be incredibly powerful in helping people see the concrete ways inclusive language can help while also demonstrating the detrimental and incredibly harmful impacts to underrepresented communities caused by exclusive language.

Step 4: Action

In order to actualize your inclusive language training within your business, it’s critical to include action-oriented steps for attendees to accomplish following the training. The actions should deploy the learnings from the training to help attendees adopt and promote inclusive language throughout their day-to-day lives.

Equip your attendees with tactics for how to correct exclusive language for both others and themselves. Make sure they understand how to correct themselves in a way that is demonstrative of the changes in language that promote inclusivity. Also include resources for trainees to further educate themselves on inclusive language, its definition, and best practices associated with it. Accommodate all learning styles by including resources ranging a variety of medium, including articles, podcasts, books, movies, etc.

Inclusive language should be a facet of any enterprise approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. With an effective program, your business can realize the range of cultural, organizational, and strategic benefits that come from a diverse workforce supported by an inclusive and equitable foundation. To learn more about Clarkston’s inclusive language services, contact us.


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Tags: Diversity + Inclusion, Training