Inclusive writing

Focus on impact over intent

Words can — and do — cause real harm. Even if it's not your intention to hurt anyone, if the language ultimately is hurtful, the impact has been made. It's best to consider the impact first. This might mean slowing down and asking questions before you decide on the final language. It’s always a good practice to have peers review your work, because they may be able to spot a bias you didn’t know you had.

Don’t assume. Ask.

To find out which term is best, ask the person or group which term they prefer. For example, if you’re uncertain if something is considered ableist language, ask in the #accessibility channel. If you're uncertain about your phrasing or tone, ask for a peer to review.

Respect people’s pronouns

In internal communication, we honor people’s pronouns and avoid gendered language. Gender is non-binary. When possible, use gender-neutral terminology.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable

It's not easy to point out non-inclusive language to a peer because you may not know how it will be received, and it can also be difficult to receive that feedback. If someone brings problematic language to your attention, listen to their feedback and consider their perspective. Notice your own defensive reactions and attempt to use these reactions as entry points for gaining deeper self-knowledge.

Embrace a learning mindset

We should not see inclusivity as something to achieve, but something to keep learning and moving towards. Writing more inclusively takes practice, and we will make mistakes. Learning requires curiosity, and being curious means being willing to be challenged.