Equity, diversity and inclusion
By now, most institutions, schools and businesses have taken steps to establish equity, diversity and inclusion programs. Their purpose, according to equity, diversity and inclusion consultant Dr. Anita Jack-Davies, “is to address barriers faced by traditionally underrepresented groups in the workplace.” Underrepresented groups include
- racialized peoples
- people with disabilities
- First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities
- GLBTQ+ communities
Very briefly, equity is about fairness, diversity is about valuing differences, and inclusion is the engagement of equity and diversity. This short video provides another way of understanding how addressing diversity and inclusion benefit the workplace.
Inclusive language is free from words, phrases, and tone that reflect discriminatory or stereotyped views of underrepresented people or groups.
If you’re tasked with writing or editing content that includes terms associated with equity, diversity and inclusion, it’s important to avoid bias and to use inclusive language. Inclusive language is free from words, phrases, and tone that reflect discriminatory or stereotyped views of underrepresented people or groups.
It’s also important to use the terms and expressions preferred by the individual or group you’re referring to. Asking someone what their preferred pronouns are (and then using them) and adopting the singular they (which many editing associations and style manuals, including APA and AP endorse) are ways to ensure you are avoiding bias and using acceptable vocabulary.
Language conventions change over time, and so do the acceptability of terms that refer to underrepresented people and groups. So it’s a good idea to check in regularly to see if a term you’re using is considered current.
For example, Greg Younging says in Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples that the term Aboriginal, which is still an appropriate term, “is being replaced by Indigenous—a choice often made by Indigenous Peoples themselves.” Similarly, Anita Jack-Davies notes that the term people of colour has fallen out of use, and that racialized peoples is now the more acceptable term.
It might seem like keeping track of current inclusive language terminology is complicated, but many resources are available to support you. Read on.
Editing Canadian English, 3rd Edition, Chapter 2: Inclusivity, by Editors Canada
Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples, by Gregory Younging
Gender-Neutral Writing: The Pronoun Problem, by Frances Peck
Language Bias: An Editor’s Guide to Biased Language, by Emily Mahan and Sandra Distelhorst for the Editorial Freelancers Association
Words Matter: Guidelines on Using Inclusive Language in the Workplace, by BC Public Service
Want to learn more about writing and editing bias-free, inclusive content? Try one of the professional editing standards certificate courses at Professional Studies, Queen’s University.