Hi my name is Nine Morrison, I use she/her pronouns and I'm white. I've always considered myself as a "woke" individual, but over the past couple of weeks, I have realized that there is so much more work that I can be doing, as a business owner, to better support and serve our marginalized communities.
What is inclusive language? Inclusive language avoids biases, slang, or expressions that discriminate against groups of people based on race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Inclusive language allows you to resonate with more audiences by speaking and writing in more impartial ways.
You may be thinking “But we are inclusive! We do same sex weddings and serve people of color.” But are you looking at your website through their eyes? Are you seeing and hearing the representation? You may need to make some changes and those changes may include adjust your terminology used on your website, contract, or maybe even your everyday jargon.
Important Things To Know:
Not everyone identifies as either male or female (non-binary)
Not every couple is a heterosexual couple
Not everyone who presents as a certain gender, identifies as that gender
So what does that mean for us and how can we use more inclusive language? Here are some examples:
COUPLE- Always use the word couple when referring to the people who are getting married. Not every wedding includes a bride and a groom and while some people may look more masculine or feminine, they may not identify with either gender or title or bride or groom.
FIANCÉ - This is a tough one because the word fiancé has two different spellings, a masculine spelling (fiancé) and a feminine spelling (fianceé). Good news though, they are pronounced the same way so when you are asking someone about their “fiance(é)” it is still considered a gender neutral tern when speaking.
PARTNER - You may want to include the work partner when asking for the names of your couple.
As a business owner, I want everyone to feel welcome in our space and working with us. I, personally, want to make sure that every single human, especially ones from marginalized communities, feel seen and heard and that includes using inclusive language and images when representing our company.
Your heterosexual couples who identify as male and female, may not notice your inclusive language or images, but do you think that someone who have been underrepresented will notice? 100% they will notice!
Use more images of POC and LGBTQ+ couples
Being seen, being heard, and being represented can be a powerful tool and if you can use it to better serve these marginalized communities, you can take your business to a new level and make a difference in the standards of inclusivity.
We are not perfect! I have done a LOT of work with trying to be inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community, but I have to admit that, that earlier this year, I realized that I have not done a great job, as a business owner, on diversity and inclusivity when it comes to our POC. So we started to come up with a plan on how to educate ourselves on the things we don't know.
I mention this because I want to empower you to do the same.
If you recognize that you haven’t been serving someone as well as you can be, take a beat, come up with a plan of action, and execute it! This is a time of acknowledgement and change. A time to better serve our communities and a time to start to create change.
If you have felt overwhelmed and like you don’t know what to do because there is so much change that has to happen, this is one way you can start.
Change starts with you. Change starts with your community. You can make a difference.
What will you be doing in your business to become more inclusive?
Marginalized Communities | In general terms, marginalized communities are communities confined to the lower or peripheral edge of the society. Such a group is denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural and social activities due to their living conditions, lifestyles or exclusion.
Inclusivity | the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of minority groups.
Diversity | the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : variety especially : the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization programs intended to promotediversityin schools.
POC | POC is an acronym for the term "people of color"
CIS | Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender woman. The term cisgender is the opposite of the word transgender.
LGBTQI | Abbreviation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (or: queer), intersex.