A guide to writing respectfully and inclusively - Part 2
In last week's blog, we talked about race and religion, and how microaggressions can cause harm without us realising it.
This week, let's look at some more topics to consider in any piece of writing or marketing, to show respect and build the relationship between your brand and consumers.
Gender plays an important role in marketing, and it's one of the first things you have to think about when considering a new product or service. Will you market it to men, women, both, other?
Well, people are quickly waking up to the fact that women's and men's products are often the same thing, just coloured, marketed and priced differently. Looking at it this way, marketing your products to one gender could be alienating half your potential customers!
If your brand is focused towards men and women, ensure your language reflects that. Don't stereotype based on gender or say anything that could come across as sexist. Be inclusive!
So, how do we keep gender bias out of our language? When it comes to writing, avoid gendered terms such as ‘businessman’ (unless referring to a specific person) and instead ensure all words and phrases are gender-neutral, such as ‘entrepreneur’.
There's also the fact that 'gender' has become a less easily defined concept. Let's discuss LGBT+ communities.
Recent years have seen a rise in the acceptance of LGBT+ people - in fact, it's currently pride month! Unfortunately, media remains focused on heterosexual and cisgender people and topics.
First of all, we have to know how we can respectfully refer to this group. The full term, that encompasses all minority genders and sexualities, is LGBTQQIAAP. However, shorter terms such as LGBT or LGBT+ are commonly accepted.
Keeping heterosexual bias out of our language is the first step to writing inclusively of LGBT+ people. Never assume a person's sexual orientation, and make sure your language and marketing are not solely aimed at heterosexual people. Research all the different terms and labels used by LGBT+ communities and take time to learn about them.
So, what about gender? This topic is particularly relevant this week, with Harry Potter author JK Rowling's transphobic tweets going viral. She is a great example of what NOT to do. Regardless of your personal beliefs, sending out a message that will upset and anger your target audience is never a good idea.
How can you make sure you don't make the same mistake? You should start by changing your own view of gender, and remembering that not everyone identifies with the sex of which they were born.
Stay open-minded and respect that gender and sexuality are complex. If someone corrects you, listen, research and learn. It isn't a matter of opinion, it's a matter of being respectful.
This guide by the Victorian Government has more great information on writing respectfully and inclusively of LGBT+ communities.
Look out for Part 3 next week, where we'll discuss language used around mental health and disability.
Please contact me if you would like to see an amendment to this blog.
For more help with your brand's language, see the All Write Digital Writing Style Guide.