How to Use Inclusive Language in Your Small Business

Updated on June 8, 2020
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As a small business owner, have you ever thought about how inclusive your workplace is? Although it can be hard to measure, cultivating an inclusive workplace is a proven way to increase your business’s profitability and performance. According to a study by McKinsey, racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to financially outperform homogeneous ones.

So how exactly do you make your workplace more welcoming to employees of different backgrounds? One method is to prioritize using inclusive language. By avoiding the use of phrases or terms that isolate and exclude employees that fall into a particular demographic group, you create a more positive, inclusive work environment.

However, implementing the change can be tough. While hiring a diverse roster of employees is a great first step, it’s not enough. Top-level management and executives must first embody the change themselves, and this can take time. The way we communicate is a result of our upbringing and social environment. To change something so innate takes time, effort, and diligence.

That’s why it’s important to establish a culture that is both inclusive and considerate. At some point, you may inevitably say something that excludes someone else. While this is to be expected, mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities rather than moments of tension. In this way, improvements can be made.

Once you’ve made the commitment to create an inclusive workplace, you need to see the change through. Connect with employees and encourage them to interact with members from other departments and backgrounds, or host company social events, such as team lunches, and give your employees time off to volunteer for good causes they support.

In addition to providing opportunities for inclusion, you could also write up a company mission statement that explicitly states your commitment to champion inclusion and diversity in the workplace. By casting the vision and leading by example on a daily basis, your employees will begin to embody the change themselves.

To learn more about inclusive language and how you can implement it in your workplace, check out our infographic below:

Sources: Josh Bersin | McKinsey | Deloitte

Vice President and Founding Editor at Fundera

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. She launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014 and has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and her advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, and more. Email:
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