New discussions for inclusive language in 2022


As communicators, we’re continually focused on the evolving world of language and the intent of our words. We want to share some insightful recent discussions we’ve had surrounding inclusive language for 2022 and beyond.

Using “BIPOC” and “POC” as catch-alls
While “BIPOC” (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and “POC” (People of Color) have seen a lot of ink over the past few years, it’s important to consider the context and ask ourselves if we can more explicitly name a race instead. Using these broad terms has its place, but they can also become catch-all labels for people who are not white, which puts whiteness at the center.

Describing feelings about current events
Is your organization “devastated”? We often see it used in statements, reactions to current events and appeals for support. The definition of devastate is “to bring to ruin or desolation by violent action,” “to reduce to chaos, disorder or helplessness.” Instead, are you angry? Saddened? Inspired to take action? It’s also important to consider whether labeling your feelings adds to supporting the cause or inadvertently redirects the spotlight on your organization, rather than the issue at hand.

A big reminder: Using people-first language for both speaking and writing
It’s easy to dance around certain phrases with the intent to be inclusive; “differently-abled” was the recommendation not long ago. It’s important to adjust your language so people come first. Instead of “differently-abled,” use “person with a disability” or get more specific about the disability. Similarly, instead of “homeless person,” use “person experiencing homelessness.”

Maintaining a commitment to inclusive language is a big undertaking as these nuances are ever-changing. Thanks to our clients for continuing to make it a priority.

Our sources and more:

If you’re a nonprofit:
Big Duck gathered some insightful and newer conversations to be aware of for 2022

If you’re hiring:
HBR article full of tips for making your hiring more inclusive

If you need a quick guide to keep at your desk:
LinkedIn has a pocket guide to keep handy

If it’s time for a refresher course:
A 2-hour LinkedIn video course