Report: The words we use to discuss diversity and inclusion

The language choices organizations make speak volumes about their efforts to change systemic injustice and inequality within the PR field, per a new report.

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Communicators believe that language—the words we use and the rules we follow in using them—deeply matter when addressing diversity in the workplace.

In a new report from the Institute for Public Relations, 97% of communicators surveyed agreed that “language or words can influence or reinforce power dynamics in the workplace.” One-third of respondents said they thought the terms “diversity,” “equity” and “inclusion” were overused.

Two-thirds of communicators said that the PR industry must develop a standard definition for DE&I, the catchall phrase that has come to embody workplace movements on equality and racial justice.

Words that confuse

One major concern is the way terms like “diversity” and “inclusion” can be misunderstood—even by those who rate communication and language as important skillsets in their profession.

Twenty percent of communicators say they do not recognize the difference between “diversity” and “inclusion.” Twenty-five percent failed to recognize “equity” and “equality” as distinct terms. And organizations are doing a poor job of explaining why those distinctions matter, according to 48% of survey respondents.

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