Language is a big part of how we understand the world around us, and it also shows what we think and value. In recent years, people have become more aware of how important it is to use gender-appropriate language that recognises and respects the different ways people identify and show their gender. This is especially important at work, where words can have a big effect on how employees feel about their jobs, how happy they are at work, and how productive they are.
Gender-appropriate language is language that supports a person’s gender identity and how they show it, no matter what their biological gender is. It is a way of speaking that acknowledges the full range of gender identities, not just male and female. In a gender-inclusive workplace, people use language that is proper for their gender to make sure that everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.
Why it’s important to use language that fits the gender
It’s important to use wording that’s right for each gender for many reasons. First, it shows that an organisation cares about diversity and wants to include everyone. When language is inclusive, it shows that all workers, no matter what they identify as, are welcome. This helps people feel like they fit and are safe, which is important for getting and keeping employees.
Second, using language that fits a person’s gender helps cut down on discrimination and bias in the workplace. When language is gender-neutral, it makes it less likely that people will stereotype or treat people unfairly. It also helps build a culture of respect and dignity in which all workers are treated fairly.
Third, using language that is suitable for each gender helps employees’ mental health and well-being. It says that a person’s gender identity is an important part of who they are and that their experience is true. This can help boost morale, job satisfaction, and effectiveness among employees.
Setting up language in your company that is appropriate for men and women
Setting up language that is good for both men and women in your workplace is easier than you might think. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Use gender-neutral words
One of the easiest ways to make sure your company uses language that is good for both men and women is to use language that is gender-neutral. This means that you should avoid gendered words like “he” and “she” and instead use words like “they” or “them” You can say “the employee should turn in their report by Friday” instead of “he or she should turn in their report by Friday.”
Avoid gendered names
People who don’t identify as male or female can feel left out when names like “Mr.” or “Ms.” are used. Use terms that have nothing to do with gender, like “Mx.” or just the person’s name, instead. This shows that you care about the person’s gender identity and how they show it.
Pay attention to words
Pronouns are a big part of figuring out who you are, and using the right pronouns is a key part of confirming someone’s experience. Ask your workers what pronouns they like to use, and make sure you always use them. You can do this by simply asking, “What are your preferred pronouns?” when you meet someone or in your email signature.
Use wording that includes all genders
Gender-inclusive language goes beyond gender-neutral language to recognise and accept the full range of gender identities. This includes using words like “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife,” or “parent” instead of “mother” or “father.” It also means not making assumptions about people based on their gender or gender roles.
Give training and materials
For a workplace to be gender-inclusive, it is important to offer training and resources on how to use language that is proper for each gender. This can be done through workshops, webinars, or online tools that teach employees why and how to use language that is appropriate for their gender.