Being Inclusive Is Good for Business

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Make it work for you with these easy tips

Think diversity and inclusion are just feel‑good ideals? Innovation experts Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, and Laura Sherbin beg to differ. In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, the three researchers provide compelling evidence that diversity unlocks innovation and spurs market growth, concluding that “leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely to unleash value-driving insights.” That’s right. Those feel-good ideals are driving real change in language and business.

Diversity and inclusion have an impact on you

As a business communicator, you have important choices to make. One is to make sure you’re using gender-inclusive language. Some calls are easy to make—like saying police officer instead of policeman, or mail carrier instead of mailman.

Some are more subtle. If every woman in your organization who chairs a committee or board is called a chair, but the men are all called chairmen, you’re telling the world that chair is a gender marker for women.

You should also be examining your marketing materials. Do you use names and titles to personalize your client communications? That’s a risk in today’s gender-fluid world, where a Dear Mrs. Jones is seen to reinforce both traditional gender norms and conservative marital expectations. Instead, many businesses are now opting for a friendly, gender-free Hello.

Watch out too for hidden biases. Maybe the woman you’re talking to is looking to start a new business, not remodel her kitchen. If you pay attention to that, it will be easier to sell her financial products.

And that’s without even talking about pronouns! There has been a huge shift in English away from the generic he/him to the singular and all-inclusive they/them. Your communication materials need to reflect this.

Thinking beyond gender

There are other ways to be inclusive that don’t involve gender. Did you notice how we wrote Mrs. Jones above and not Mrs. Singh or Mrs. Nguyen? Varying the examples you use is another great way to be inclusive. Perhaps we should give Mrs. Jones a rest once in a while.

You also need to consider the business minefield of personal faith. In today’s diverse world, it’s wrong to assume that people share the same faith—or practice any religion at all.

Personal experience varies broadly too from individual to individual. Canada welcomed a record 430,000 immigrants in 2022. You can be sure that they didn’t watch the same TV shows, eat the same foods, or attend identical schools growing up. Their cultural touchstones cover a broad spectrum. If you want to connect with these new Canadians, you need to amplify their voices in your organization.

Now do it all in French

If you think being inclusive in English is tough, imagine navigating your way through French, where every noun is either masculine or feminine. You need a finely tuned ear and an expert command of the language.

That’s where we come in at TRSB. Our language professionals know all about diversity and inclusion. Not only can they provide expert advice on the English materials you submit for translation, but they will also ensure that your French materials are perfectly suited to today’s business environment.

We’d love to include you among our valued clientele. Tell us how we can help!