The importance of inclusive language to identify everyone

Language is constantly evolving, and inclusive language is an essential part of today’s society. 

We communicate through language constantly, whether on social media, websites, or face-to-face. However, businesses interact with their target market is key to building a professional reputation.

The Bodyguard team

The Bodyguard team

If you read a blog or web page that you find offensive, perhaps because it insults gay people, how do you feel? After a bad user experience due to online toxicity or the incorrect use of nouns, adjectives or pronouns you’re unlikely to return and you may also spread the word that X company doesn´t know how to moderate its content.

What is inclusive language?

Inclusive language treats everyone as equal and has no biases.  Stereotypes should not be used when discussing race, ethnicity, ability, age, gender or sexual orientation.

The objective of using inclusive language is to offer respect for the person or community you’re addressing. It avoids insulting them, using homophobia, sexism or racism, and treats them as an individual with their own values. 

Inclusive language doesn´t refer to bad language, swearing or freedom of speech, it’s about using the right terms. For example, a couple may refer to their partner, rather than boyfriend or girlfriend, and teachers may use parent, instead of father or mother.

It’s easy to make a mistake in everyday conversation without even realising you’re doing it. A classic error in business is referring to a group of people as ‘guys’. While the speaker is trying to introduce familiarity this expression is often considered unacceptable in the modern world.

Other examples of inclusive language

Using inclusive language is like referring to an unwritten style guide. You may have some idea what insults someone, but you’re not sure of the definitive list. In fact, there isn´t one. Every situation is different. 

One of the most common examples of inclusive language includes which pronoun to use for gender-neutral people – he/she/it. At school, many of us learned to write Dear Sir or Madam, which today brings with it the dilemma of how to address people who don´t identify as being male or female. Other examples to consider are landlord > property owner, salesman > salesperson, housewife > homemaker… the list is endless.

Why inclusive language is vital in business

Words are a powerful tool, particularly in business. We write articles, post on Instagram, and chat with potential customers – all a form of marketing. In the past businesses only had to consider their target market’s age, gender, and other specifics. Today it’s different as we have to consider people’s well-being.

For example, your product may be an anti-aging face cream and your target market may be women over 50. How are you going to market to them without excluding other social groups? 

From another point of view, the toxic content users can post on your platform that doesn’t comply with inclusive language can damage your brand.

To attract and retain customers an understanding of correct inclusive language is essential.

How technology can help with inclusive language

Selecting the terms you don´t want on your pages (either posted by users or employees) and replacing them with more morally acceptable wording could be an endless job if you have a database with thousands of customers.

This is where Bodyguard can help. We offer a moderation solution that allows businesses to tailor their databases to suit the needs of inclusive language. 

For example, gender-neutral language is essential in today’s world, so as not to offend and address people correctly to ensure equality. 

This screenshot from Warwick University gives an example of the correct use of gender-neutral terms:

Our NLP (natural language processing) team are linguistic experts who create new and adapts existing rules to fit our moderation guidelines. They constantly work to ensure Bodyguard software recognizes language development and new terms. 

This has the potential to increase brand loyalty by enhancing the user experience and promoting you as a modern, caring business.