Updated: November 24, 2021
Companies across multiple industries have been striving to boost diversity among their teams for decades. However, many leaders have realized that more can be done in terms of inclusivity. One of the most apparent parts of these efforts is promoting inclusive language in corporate communications, both internal and external. Unfortunately, multiple negative effects may be caused when employees use inappropriate language in their written communications, from linguistic racism to gender bias.
In response to the rising problem, companies have started to deploy various solutions. As such, CVS Health enforced conscious inclusion workshops, Google began to nudge users to adopt the gender-neutral language, UK Finance, EY, and Microsoft launched an inclusion campaign.
In addition to any educational activity, many companies have introduced style guides, a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and design of documents, to eliminate using any gender-related descriptions of notions that have non-gender-related synonyms.
Linguix Style Guides is a feature used by thousands of businesses worldwide. Today, we publish aggregated and depersonalized statistics that show what topics companies are covering in their style guides.
Disclaimer: no personal data was analyzed or accessed during the research. We’ve analyzed technical information and metadata on style guides rules and their activation only.
We have 4156 style guides on the platform that took part in the research. We’ve analyzed the frequency of rules met in style guides. No content created by customers and their employees were analyzed as we do not store this data.
Based on the research, we were able to come up with three categories of the style guide rules enforcing:
- non-discriminatory language,
- correct branded language,
- proper English dialect usage (Mostly enforcing US spelling).
Here is what we’ve found by analyzing this data.
Non-discriminatory language turned out to be the most popular purpose of corporate style guides (37% of guides covered this topic), while correct brand language enforcement was the #2 priority (21% of style guides solved this task). Also, many style guides administrators require their employees to use the correct English dialect, primarily enforcing US spelling (17%).
Most companies use Linguix to monitor external communications with customers, but some also use it internally to discourage employees from using the unwelcomed words in emails or Slack messages. That might mean avoiding gender-biased wording, prodding employees to think twice before they refer to a diverse group of people as “guys” instead of “team,” or use gendered words like “manpower” instead of “personnel” in their outgoing communications.
Here are some frequently used style rules focusing on gender-neutral language:
- businessman → businessperson, entrepreneur
- guys → team, everybody
- manpower → staffing, workforce, personnel, human resources
- foreman → supervisor
- middleman → contact person, go-between, broker, intermediary
- sister company → company, partner company, associated company
- man on the street → average person, ordinary person
- lady doctor → doctor
What else: brand safety
During the past year, we’ve also launched a bunch of demo projects helping the businesses worldwide to set up Linguix and create style guides for them based on the corporate requirements. Here are some interesting style guide use cases from such demos:
- One client in the IT industry used Linguix Style Guides to deter its employees from using the word “digitalization” to avoid sounding distant and too corporate.
- Also, companies try to remind their employees not to use political and national-related terms. For e.g., during Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalation in 2021, some companies added the name of the disputed region to their style guides as a term to avoid.
- One Asian bank enforces its employees to use the People’s Republic of China instead of China and instead of Hong Kong – Hong Kong, China. Another style guide bans writing about Jammu and Kashmir to control geopolitical risks.
Our goal here at Linguix is to help our corporate users to communicate in ways that indicate competence and confidence at work. We believe that using Style Guides can help businesses to build healthier connections with their customers, and boost team morale by ensuring everyone within the company is happy with internal communications.