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Inclusive language frameworks to look out for

Language plays a crucial role in creating a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion. To aid organizations in their journey towards inclusivity, several frameworks have been developed to guide inclusive language audits. This blog post explores existing inclusive language frameworks that organizations can use to evaluate and refine their communication practices.

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The power of words

Words shape our reality. They can empower individuals or perpetuate bias. Hence, it’s essential for organizations to critically assess their language use to ensure it aligns with values of belonging, diversity, equity, and inclusion (BDEI). An inclusive language audit is a systematic approach to identify and amend language that might be exclusive, offensive, or outdated.

Some frameworks for inclusive language audits

  • The Conscious Style Guide: Developed by a seasoned editor, this aims to provide style guidance on compassionate, mindful, empowering, respectful, and inclusive language in one place. Think of the AP style guide or Oxford style manual but for inclusive communication. What I like about this is that it provides context and not just content on what is inclusive because in inclusive communication, there are no one-word-fits-all solution.

  • The Inclusive Language Field Guide: Designed to promote inclusivity across any language and cultural context, these principles are aimed to be universal, applicable to various languages and locations, including adaptations for U.S. English and sign language. They are built on the foundational truths that foster connection, safety, and trust between companies and clients, and remain relevant even as language evolves. The principles include reflect reality, respect, draw people in, incorporate other perspectives, prevent erasure, and recognize pain points.

  • PYNHQ’s Inclusive Communication Framework: This frameworks covers Audience, Format, Tone, Outcomes and Assumptions. It serves as a guide for those who would like to audit their existing communications or create new ones through guided questions. A downloadable template is available at PYNHQ’s website.

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Implementing a language audit

Conducting an inclusive language audit involves several steps:

  • Preparation: Define the scope of your audit. Decide whether it will cover internal communications, external communications, or both. Gather materials and establish a baseline for current language use.
  • Analysis: Use the frameworks to analyze the collected data. Identify any use of biased, stereotypical, or exclusive language.
  • Revision: Develop guidelines for more inclusive language based on the findings. Implement these changes across the organization’s communications.
  • Training and development: Educate staff about the importance of inclusive language and provide training based on the revised guidelines.
  • Ongoing review: Inclusive language is an evolving area. Regularly update the language guidelines and audit processes to reflect new understanding and societal changes.

Benefits of an inclusive language audit

Conducting an inclusive language audit has several benefits:

  • Enhanced brand image: By using language that respects and acknowledges diversity, organizations can improve their public image and appeal to a broader audience.
  • Increased employee satisfaction: Inclusive language contributes to a more welcoming work environment, which can increase employee satisfaction and retention.
  • Compliance and risk management: An audit helps ensure compliance with legal standards related to discrimination and workplace equality.
  • Fostering innovation: Inclusive environments are known to boost creativity and innovation by incorporating a wide range of perspectives.

Challenges and considerations

While the benefits are clear, organizations may face challenges such as resistance to change or a lack of understanding about the importance of inclusive language. It’s crucial to address these challenges by demonstrating the tangible benefits of inclusivity and providing clear, ongoing training and support for employees.

In other words

Inclusive language audits are not just about correcting language; they are about aligning organizational communication with core values of respect and inclusion. By utilizing frameworks mentioned above, organizations can effectively audit their language use and take meaningful steps towards becoming truly inclusive.


  • Review your organization’s current language guidelines and identify any areas that lack inclusivity.
  • Explore any of the resources mentioned in this blog post to understand diverse perspectives on language.
  • Plan a training session on inclusive language based on the findings of your initial language audit.

By taking these micro-actions, you can start making substantial changes in your organization’s approach to inclusive communication, ensuring that every word spoken or written resonates with respect and inclusivity.#

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