Use inclusive writing posted on 25 March 2024

Inclusive writing is often frowned upon by far too many people:

  1. Those who have something against the people being included
  2. Those who think of a language as a beautiful construct that shouldn’t be changed

I don’t have an interest in arguing with 1/ on LinkedIn but I thought I would share some thoughts on 2/.

I use inclusive language in different ways today, but the main change I made was to use “they” more often. I try to constantly use it when writing about an interviewee or a promo candidate. While I’m not sure if this directly influences the hiring/promo committee, once in a while I’ll catch myself using “he”/”she”. I can now mechanically fix these issues (meaning without cognitive overhead), but these errors will still gently remind me to fight gender bias – I’ll naturally pay more attention to it when reviewing my feedback before submitting.

For those who think that English is a beautiful language and that inclusive writing deteriorates it, you have to keep in mind two things:

  • Language is a form of communication that is not owned by anyone or any organization – e.g. as much as the Académie Française wants to think it can control French, it doesn’t.
  • Language has evolved a lot and still does. Once in a while someone will complain about a new generation that doesn’t write like Shakespeare used to – Shakespeare wrote in what is referred to as Early Modern English, and that’s very far from today’s English.

At the end of the day, we are all free to choose how we write – it’s our choice to decide where we side on these different topics but I personally find it useful to fight biases. Correcting biases is hard and language is one tool I’ve found impactful.

LinkedIn post