Prioritizing Inclusivity in Your Marketing: Using Inclusive Language

A key aspect of marketing is language. Much of marketing includes headlines, emails, copy, and more. When striving to prioritize inclusivity in your marketing, using inclusive language is an excellent starting point. Here are some guidelines on inclusive language from the American Psychological Association for you to implement in your marketing this year.

Person-first and Identity-first Language

Person-first language emphasizes the individual instead of putting main focus on their disability. Identity-first language allows an individual to claim their disability as their identity. For example, “A person who uses a wheelchair” is person-first language where, “A wheelchair user” is identity-first language. APA encourages writers to use terms and descriptions that both honor and explain person-first and identity-first perspectives until you know which approach a group prefers.

Neurodiversity is a term developed to advocate for those with autism spectrum disorders and other neurologically based disabilities such as learning disabilities. Using this language emphasizes that these individuals experience a natural variation in brain differences that the world should adapt to accommodate.

Resource: APA bias-free language guidelines for writing about disability

Image Description: A young man in a wheelchair is in a group of friends standing in a circle. He is high fiving on of the other men.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity Language

Using language that exclusively groups people into the gender binary of male or female is not inclusive to those who with other gender identities. Using non-gendered language when describing people is a way to be more inclusive to gender diversity.

Examples of gendered language: ladies and gentlemen, policeman, chairman, congressman, and freshman

Examples of gender inclusive language: everyone, friends, guests; police officer; chair or chairperson; congressperson or member of congress; and first-year student or first year.

It is also important to refer to people by their correct pronouns, and if unknown use “they/them” to avoid assumptions. Do not use the term “preferred pronouns,” instead use the term “pronouns” or “identified pronouns.”

Resource: APA bias-free language guidelines for writing about sexual orientation

Image Description: A diverse group of college students hold a Pride flag while smiling.

Race, Ethnicity, and Culture Language

It is important to not only represent people of all races, ethnicity, and culture in your marketing, but to speak properly about them as well. Here are the terms to use for different people groups.

Instead of using African American as an umbrella term, sometimes Black is more appropriate for ethnicities such as Nigerian, Kenyan, Jamaican, Bahamian, Puerto Rican, or Panamanian.

Middle Eastern includes people with ancestry from countries or territories such as Jordan, Iran, and Palestine. North African includes people with ancestry from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. The anacronym AMENA is used to refer to American Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African.

For people of Asian ancestry from Asia, Asian is an appropriate term. For those of Asian descent from the United States or Canada, the appropriate term is Asian American or Asian Canadian, respectively.

Precolonial or presettler societies are referred to as Indigenous or Indigenous People. Preferably, use the name Indigenous Peoples call themselves and avoid using the term tribe and use nation or people instead.

For people who identify as Hispanic, Latino or Latinx, there are a few considerations. In general, naming a nation or region of origin is preferred. Hispanic generally refers to those who speak Spanish while Latino(a)/Latinx generally refers to those originating from Latin America. Latino/Latina is gendered so there may be contexts where the non-gendered Latinx is more inclusive.

For people of European origin, the term White is acceptable over the term Caucasian.

Resource:  APA bias-free language guidelines for writing about racial and ethnic identity

Image Description: A multiethnic group of college students smiling together.

Inclusivity and Beyond!

As you strive to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion into your college store, using inclusive language not only communicates more effectively but also honors those who are often marginalized and stereotyped.

How have you implemented inclusive language in your marketing? Let us know in the comments!


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