Have you noticed the increase of attention on gender-neutral language? Recently, it seems more people are aware of the importance of non-sexist language or inclusive language. All terms that gender-neutral language covers. When using gender-neutral language, you avoid words that can be interpreted as biased or discriminative. And all individuals will feel spoken to when they read your content. It helps you with preventing gender bias.
Job descriptions, for example, often have a more male tone of voice. The words used appeal more to men. As a result, women feel less motivated to apply. That’s not the way to go if you’re striving for more gender equality. You need gender-neutral language if you want to eliminate gender bias. And if you want to reach the diversity and inclusion goals you’ve set.
And there are more reasons why gender-neutral language is important. We have listed three of them below.
1. Shows your commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI)
As we mentioned above, you’ve probably set yourself diversity, equality and inclusion goals. Sure, this is a way to show that you’re committed to inclusion. And that you strive for a diverse and inclusive workforce. But goals alone don’t really prove anything. Especially if you haven’t reached them yet.
Using gender-neutral language in your communications is a very visible way of showing your commitment to DEI. It’s important to prevent gender bias. Use it in your job descriptions to attract both male and female candidates. But don’t stop there. If you really are committed, you use gender-neutral language in all your written communications. Showing everyone—customers, candidates and employees—that gender equality really matters to you.
2. It promotes social change
Language both reflects and shapes how we experience the world. Think of the words policemen, chairmen and councilmen. Women might think that only men can do these jobs. And men might feel they can’t be a flight attendant when companies advertise for a stewardess. Therefore, using more gender-neutral job titles also promotes social change. Obviously this process takes time. But eventually, the belief that people working for the police can only be men, for example, will fade.
3. Attract and retain customers and employees
Customers and employees place more value on DEI than ever before. Customers prefer to do business with diverse and inclusive companies. And employees want to work at companies where they will experience inclusion and belonging. Increasingly, candidates first research a company to find out how diverse and inclusive they are.
To show how gender diverse you are, you can publish data on your workforce. Do you employ as many women as you do men? And are women represented in management roles? It’s more effective, though, to use gender-neutral language in your communications to show how gender diverse you are. It further demonstrates your commitment to inclusion. You need to use gender-neutral language in all your written communications.
Gender bias – examples of gender-neutral language
It’s clear how important the use of gender-neutral language is. And we’ve already mentioned the policemen, chairmen and councilmen. But what are gender-neutral alternatives for these words? We have listed a few examples below:
- Policeman – Police officer
- Chairman – Chair
- Fireman – Firefighter
- Sir – To whom it may concern
- He – He or she
- Freshman – First-year student
- Mankind – Humanity
- Clergymen – Clergy
Also, be aware of using expressions that reinforce gender stereotypes. So, avoid phrases like ‘she runs like a girl’ or ‘men don’t understand’. The same goes for stereotypes and combinations or associations. Using pink for women and blue for men is a good example of this.
The Textmetrics platform: your help with preventing gender bias
Switching to solely gender-neutral language can take time. And it does require some effort. There is a lot you need to pay attention to when writing. The Textmetrics platform makes it all a lot easier. It analyzes your content and gives you suggestions for a more gender-neutral tone of voice. And it also gives you options for words that appeal to both men and women. And when we look at job descriptions. You end up with job ads that appeal to both men and women. Thus, you have access to a diverse group of candidates. It’s the way to reach your diversity and inclusion goals.
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