The use of inclusive language in your marketing creates a sense of belonging for customers making them feel heard and valued. The small changes we make to our work will drive us forward into an inclusive world.
Why is Touchpoints Marketing focusing on inclusive language?
While we have a company culture that is accepting and supportive, inclusivity is a forever-changing topic. As a team, we wanted to progress our support and understand how we can be more supportive. With marketing, you have to keep up to date with social norms. We are aiming educate ourselves and share our knowledge to support our customers with their marketing.
The dictionary definition of inclusive language is:
“terminology that avoids expressions or words that exclude particular groups of people”. A simple explanation, not assuming the norm is white, male, heterosexual and able-bodied. We are ensuring nobody is left out!
Many of us seem usually think of pronouns and gender-related topics when discussing inclusive language. However inclusive language focuses on so much more than that. Inclusive language includes those with physical and mental disabilities, and any members of minority groups. The use of inclusive language isn’t swaying away from those currently in the majority, instead aiming to create a society where everybody can feel valued.
“Customers from minority groups are more likely to be loyal as they very rarely feel included by brands” Katie Neeves, Think Inclusive Roadshow.
To support you and your business here are some examples you can use for your marketing:
Pronouns: This is something so simple which can make your clients feel so valued.
- It doesn’t have to be a conversation starter simply include your pronouns in your email signature or LinkedIn account. First, this helps people know how to refer to you. But this shows you are accepting, and clients may be more comfortable and won’t have to hide in order to be “professional”
- aim to shy away from gender-specific language when advertising your products/services. E.g. he/him for DIY/tool products which exclude women/non-binary customers, or she/her for make-up or family products, excluding men/non-binary customers.
LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual):
In terms of inclusive language, using the correct pronouns/awareness is vital; this is covered above.
When referring to a member of the community, here are some tips to avoid awkward interactions:
- Try not to make assumptions. For example, assuming a man has a female partner woman has a male partner. Making a judgement based on appearance – i.e. a woman is a lesbian due to presenting more masculine traits or physical features. Don’t base your judgements on gender norms.
- While we may be fascinated to learn more about minority groups, really think about your questions. A personal favourite of mine is that you wouldn’t ask your heterosexual colleague if they’re a top or bottom, so why ask your gay/bisexual colleague? This tip in fact applies to all minority groups, as while we are a part of the community, we often don’t have all the information.
Words/terms referring to races/ethnicities:
- When referring to individuals, it’s important to ask which term they prefer, for example, somebody who’s African American may prefer to be referred to as black instead. No different to a white American referring to themselves as white over German American.
- When you are referring to all people of colour the new term that’s most inclusive is BIPOC-Black Indigenous or people of colour.
Words referring to disabilities:
- Phrases like wheelchair-bound or handicapped are outdated that cast pity and shame onto those with a physical disability.
- Understanding person first language vs identity-first language:
- person first language: focus on the person before their disability e.g., a person who is blind
- identity-first language: focus on the disability over the person e.g., a blind person.
- using person-first language puts the person first, acknowledging they are more than their disability. While this may come across as something so obvious and minor, to somebody with a disability, or as I like to call it “differently abled” this will have a huge impact on them.
- But this does differ depending on the disability: Deaf people tend to prefer identity-first language whereas many with down-syndrome associations prefer person-first language.
Inclusive language is forever changing, no different from the ways of doing business. Aim to carry out research when writing your marketing message.
If you start to include inclusive language in your marketing don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s impossible to be right, especially with language constantly changing. However, showing you’re going the extra mile for your customers improves your company’s culture and brand image. These small steps will really resonate with minority groups.
Change can be scary, and many customers may take time to adapt, which is ok. While some customers may feel less value. The use of inclusive language in your marketing, allows those in minority groups to feel valued just like those in the majority.
Here are some additional resources to support with your marketing:
If you are looking for any support with inclusive language for your marketing, we offer a free service “Call to Action”. Send us three questions and we’ll get back to you!