McLean & Company releases inclusive language guide

New guide helps organizations use inclusive language to improve retention and foster belonging

McLean & Company releases inclusive language guide

McLean & Company has released a new guide on inclusive language. This guide aims to help organizations create workplaces where everyone thrives by using inclusive language.  

The firm's research shows that employees who feel their organizations support an inclusive environment are more than twice as likely to remain at the organization. To assist HR and communications professionals, McLean & Company has published the Inclusive Language Guide.   

The guide explains that inclusive language avoids expressions that stereotype, stigmatize, trivialize, or exclude individuals based on traits such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, class, or age.  

Instead, inclusive language intentionally uses words and phrases that value and honour identities and experiences, address inequities, and foster respectful and welcoming interactions.   

“Inclusive language reinforces inclusion as an organizational priority, establishes a sense of belonging, and fosters psychological safety at work,” says Elysca Fernandes, director of HR Research and Advisory Services at McLean & Company.  

“Implementing inclusive language is not about chasing perfection. It requires adapting the approach to differing contexts and audiences over time.”   

Organizations often struggle to start embedding inclusive language in their communications. Failing to prioritize inclusive language in written communications signals that the organization does not prioritize inclusion and belonging for its employees.  

Written communications are key tools for conveying organizational values, and neglecting inclusive language misses an opportunity to build an engaging and welcoming workplace culture.   

The Inclusive Language Guide is organized into three sections:   

Overview of Inclusive Language 

The first section defines inclusive language, identifies key organizational applications, and highlights the benefits of inclusive language on employee experience and psychological safety.   

Principles of Inclusive Language   

The second section outlines six principles for using inclusive language in written communications:   

  • Acknowledge that everyone has biases. 

  • Know your audience. 

  • Treat individuals as experts in their own experience. 

  • Ensure the approach to inclusive language evolves as language evolves. 

  • Seek out existing resources for continuous DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) learning. 

  • Recognize that change causes emotional reactions. 

Best Practices Across Demographic Groups   

The final section recommends current, more inclusive terms to replace commonly used, less inclusive terms.   

As HR leaders guide their organizations toward a more inclusive future, McLean & Company emphasizes the importance of making written communications inclusive. This shift impacts both creators and recipients of communication and should be approached with intentionality and care.