Let’s admit it. We don’t live under a rock. In fact, our culture is taunted for being overly ‘woke‘. There is awareness more than ever before. Inclusivity, diversity, and sensitivity are words present on the tip of the tongues of communication professionals. Corporates take great care in sensitizing and training their staff to become open-minded and prevent them from committing any biases.
Still, slip-ups are bound to happen. This is a time that prefers text more than calls. Emails more than interactions, virtually more than real. Biases inadvertently become a part of our messaging despite all that training since we are hardwired to believe some things which translate into our speech sending out negative connotations leading to irreplaceable repercussions.
Bias is one of the biggest put-offs in messaging. You create a message to engage with your audience. A bias in your drafting can come across as ignorant and rude. Bias-free language avoids words and phrases that knowingly or even unknowingly stigmatize people and create stereotypes related to gender, race, ethnicity, age, or characteristics. (Source: Bias-Free Communication Guide)
Language is merely not about how you address people with a couple of ‘labels’. Sexism is the most common bias noticed across conversations both written and verbal. It is as simple as creating a gender-fluid word for something that traditionally caters to a man.
The race of an individual is an irrelevant label when it comes to identifying people. Using race in a conversation where it is absolutely unnecessary would make the conversation absolutely lose meaning and can prove to be extremely offensive.
Coming across as an ageist in your speech can put off members, especially the ones with the most experienced. Age can convey a different connotation based on the context wherein it is used. Simply saying young does not associate with youth, it may also mean immature depending on the context used in the case of the conversation.
The disability must only be mentioned when it has a direct connection to the subject of the matter. It is incredibly personal to the person in conversation. Depending upon how it is used the sentence can either be incredibly empowering or absolutely disrespectful to the listener. The speech must always address using relevant and not outdated terms, keeping in sentiments.
Communicators are a reflection of the company’s thought process. Although action speaks louder than words, words echo the thought process. It is a direct reflection of the company’s ideologies and culture. Therefore, communicators are tasked with making their speech as inclusive, bias-free, and objective as possible.