In the world of business, especially in the technology sector, opportunities are more plentiful than ever, and processes are becoming more interconnected. Staying competitive means professionals from different backgrounds and cultures working in collaboration. Keeping such relationships healthy requires a new perspective.
Differences of opinion have always played a role in business. Now, differences in lifestyle, gender and culture are encouraging even greater innovation. Inclusive language in the office celebrates these differences and inspires higher productivity while maximizing both customer satisfaction and worker engagement.
Inclusive language is an important element of a respectful workplace, especially in the tech sector. Respect in the workplace means treating people with kindness and courtesy while acting as a source of encouragement.
Many times, though, certain words or phrasing can exclude a person or a group, even if it’s unintentional. Gaffes are a part of life. Tech companies and startups, in particular, must take care in ensuring that every team member feels welcome. This means we need to understand and be mindful of our words and actions and how they might impact others. We should never judge each other, regardless of race or ancestry, religious beliefs, age, physical or cognitive ability, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliations, marital status, or family conditions.
Diligence is key. Strive to be the Gandhian change by which “the tendencies in the world would also change.” That effort alone will reward everyone.
War metaphors for business now make many people feel uncomfortable. No longer apropos are claims of “crushing” competition or “killing” quarterly sales quotas or similar masculine idioms. Rhetorical references to people of all genders belonging to “mankind” sound archaic.
Inclusive language helps to build trust by giving colleagues a vocabulary of respect. The concept of peaceful coexistence remains just as relevant during working hours, so thoughtful tech professionals should leave their boxing gloves at the gym. When peace and respect become SOP on the individual level within an organization, harmony and peace among cultures will follow.
Along with all the inclusion progress that individuals and companies have been making, others in society now face a shoe-on-the-other-foot kind of exclusion. A laudable effort to diversify employment has left a neglectful aftertaste. There is a new kind of minority in the workplace, distinguished from the new majority by a familiar exclusion toward the outside of team synergies bonding those whose insider perspective appears at times to value diversity over inclusion.
Despite good intentions, diversity and inclusion do not always translate as the same thing in a workplace setting. A diverse tech office might just be a place where designated token employees are kept away from whatever managers consider to be “real work,” or in place that managers make sure to keep free and clear of. Inclusive tech offices bring everyone together, including those who might still have a lot to learn about inclusive behavior.
To some leaders, the prospect of including diverse individuals might be daunting. Indeed, some people have already concluded that for them, a willingness to change or show respect is not worth the effort. Tech leaders should embrace full-spectrum inclusion, along with the principled “do’s and don’ts” of phrasing (many informative guides exist). Tech leaders seem to be paying more attention, which is the all-important first step toward kicking any bias habit.
Job ads represent an introduction and an early way for professionals to discover important information about a company’s culture. Bias tells a clear story, so hiring managers must compose ads in a way that invites the broadest possible array of professionals to apply. They must be creative, and they must seek the creative. Even an ad’s copy and formatting can represent the difference between finding a good fit and never hearing from that one perfect person for the job.
It should be no surprise that an employee’s workday environment influences their professional attitude and therefore their productivity. What might come as a surprise is learning that remote workers could be more amenable to inclusive language than those who commute to the office. This is an important consideration for startup tech leaders wishing to build a diverse and inclusive team.
For many people, workplace inclusion is common sense. Some struggle to thrive in the new era; others struggle to allow anyone from the old era to keep contributing. When it comes down to it, don’t judge anyone. All leaders need to know how to talk the talk and cultivate a culture of inclusion and respect.