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Fostering Inclusivity at Work through Language and Action

Inclusivity is belongingness, and to belong is to thrive.

The heart of a workplace is its people, and it should be the goal of every company to make sure that they foster a culture of inclusivity and diversity— considerate of all races, sex-gender identities and expressions, religions, and beliefs.

Research has shown that the more inclusive a workplace is, the more productive it becomes. This is because when workers feel included, respected, honored, and loved, they become more passionate about the work that they do. This will also lead them to nurture the culture of caring and solidarity, creating a positive Ripple effect in the workplace.

One of the ways in which we can foster inclusivity at work is through our use of appropriate language with each other. Our words are powerful, and they have the strength to build a person up or tear them down. Here at Ripple, here are the ways we try to actively and consciously practice inclusivity:

1. Being gender-sensitive. Refer to people with their preferred names and their pronouns (he/him, she/her, they/them, etc.). Also, instead of saying “hey guys,” or “ladies and gentlemen,” it is better to say “hey all,” “folks,” “people,” or “everyone.” In this way, we refer to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions— not just men and women in the binary. This may seem trivial to some people who don’t understand, but to those whom you are referring to in an inclusive manner, this will mean so much to them.

2. Being sensitive to those with mental illnesses. Try to not use the words “crazy, lunatic, maniac, psycho, and deranged” when you really mean wild, surprising, and unconventional. These terms have a historical context wherein this was used against people with mental illnesses who were institutionalized without their consent, and were even tortured and abandoned. Also, it would be best to refrain from saying you have “OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” when you are just organized and neat, since OCD is a very real disorder that people are struggling with.

3. Being sensitive about racial issues. Be careful when using the words “ghetto” or “barrio” and instead use the official name of the area or neighborhood, since this usually denotes a segregated nonwhite urban place. Instead of using “oriental,” it is better to use the term person of Asian descent, since the former term was associated with a period when colonizers looked down on Asian people and excluded them.

These are just a few examples of being more inclusive with our language use in the workplace, but this sensitivity to the words we use must also be coupled with action towards a more diverse and inclusive space, respecting and honoring everyone in the workplace.


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