Now, more than ever, you have to capture your readers’ attention with just a few words. So, choosing the right words has never been more important to your brand. Inclusive writing is an ongoing process that requires sensitivity and awareness. Your writers must be skilled and properly trained to know what terminology to avoid in new content they create but also be able to audit existing content to bring it up to speed. It’s a worthwhile investment because customers won’t hesitate to criticize you for the slightest discrepancy. You must be diligent every single day.
Training isn’t one-and-done; it’s a continuous effort that keeps evolving and needs buy-in from everyone in your organization, including the following groups:
Were you ever the last one picked for a dodge ball team in elementary school? Remember that feeling of being left out? That’s the last thing you want your customers to experience when they go through your content, whether it’s your website, your Help content, marketing material, or your user interface. And don’t forget about internal communications with your own employees. Make your team feel like they belong and that their voice matters.
We’re more educated, more open, more accepting and we’ve learned over time that, at the core, we’re more similar than we are different. Your content is intended for a global audience and, as such, your contributors must be mindful of all cultures, genders, and races. You don’t want anyone to feel marginalized when they read your content. It can be as simple as choosing certain words over others. Rather than referring to specific genders in your examples, use “they”. Instead of using “native” to denote something that’s original to your system, use “built-in”.
Here’s a starting point for some before-and-after terms. Build on this list and make it readily available in a central location so that everyone can familiarize themselves with what words might be offensive. Talk about it, share ideas, and empower others to contribute to that list. It’s all about collaboration and raising awareness.
Awareness is the first step to inclusivity. We don’t set out to offend anyone, but sometimes people use certain words without realizing their effect on someone else. By providing training to the people in your organization, you can heighten your organization’s awareness on this important topic.
Another strategy to build inclusivity into your content is to use a terminology management system (TMS). That way, when writers create or update content for customer consumption or even internal use, they can run that content through a TMS and issues are caught at the source. The TMS flags terms that you’ve deemed as offensive and potentially offer up suggestions for what to use instead. Public perception of your brand improves, all while empowering your teams to make a difference in the world around them.
Let us help you catch potentially offensive words before your customers do.