Incorporating inclusive language into our work

Workshop review

In today’s rapidly diversifying world, inclusivity is more important than ever. Whatever language services we provide, and whether the languages we work with are heavily gendered or not, communicating inclusively is likely to be on our radar.

Alicja Tokarska

Alicja Tokarska facilitated this workshop to guide us through some of the issues surrounding inclusive language in our professional lives and beyond. She began with a brief description of her work and shared her thoughts on why conscious communication is so important. She then took us through some practicalities of “how to do inclusive language”, from typography and grammar to gender neutrality and non-binary forms, always with useful examples and anecdotes from her own experience and input from attendees. In the next section of the workshop, Alicja talked about stereotypes and biases we might come across in our work, but also about our own unconscious bias, and how to deal with both while raising (self-)awareness. How do we approach clients when we encounter exclusionary language? What solutions can and should we offer? And how do we recognize biases that are shaped by our backgrounds and experience? From this discussion, Alicja went on to introduce other areas where inclusive language matters, such as sexuality and gender identity, disability and mental health, and ethnicity and race, underlining the role of inclusive language in the broader context of respectful, empathetic communication.

The final, interactive section of the afternoon began with language breakout groups in which we discussed texts sent out before the workshop. We then shared our feedback in the main group and talked more generally about context, inclusive language as a learning process, and the role language professionals can or should play.

Alicja closed the session by recapping on our discussion and recommending some resources and further reading. It was an engaging and enjoyable workshop on an increasingly relevant part of our work and lives, and we’re grateful to Alicja for her insights.

Workshop attendees