Bias language in business writing

If you grew up in a family or neighborhood with clearly defined gender roles and expectations, you might use a lot of gender-biased language without realizing it.

We all have biases. But it can go both ways. The cultural landscape of and the last few decades is different from any other time in history.

As a creative writing instructor, bias could mean favoring students who prefer literary fiction and giving lower grades to chick lit or sci-fi fans. Bias is a problem when it creates an unfair, neglectful, hurtful, demeaning, discriminatory, or dangerous situation for others. To say that someone was defended by a homosexual lawyer is gratuitous when describing a case of stock market fraud, but more relevant in a case of discrimination against homosexuals.

Bias that crosses the line into racist or sexist language can trigger penalties under anti-discrimination laws in most parts of the U. A team member may dismiss an alternate opinion as idiotic or ill-informed without fully investigating the nature of the challenge to their own way of thinking.

Bias in Business Communication

Consider, for instance, how the word liberal has been used with positive and with negative connotations in various election campaigns. You might be biased about your favorite sports or teams.

An alternative is to use the phrase he or she to refer to a singular word: And language reflects beliefs, whether we hold them consciously or not. But at one site, The Natural Handymanthe number of male and female visitors are about the same. Avoid terms that specifically refer to a female version of a role or job.

In addition, shifts in world politics and boundaries have renamed many countries: In addition, use the names people prefer for their racial or ethnic affiliation.

Ways to Reduce Bias in Business Communications

You might even be biased against introverts or extroverts, marriage or divorce, home owners or renters. The most common situations in which writers should use gender-neutral language involve job titles and pronouns.

Even if the description is just to help someone remember which candidate is which and not intended as discriminatory, the appearance of discrimination still can be damaging.

Employers are not only required to provide equal opportunity in hiring and employment opportunities, but also a workplace that shows equity and fairness toward minorities and protected classes. Become familiar with gender-biased language and gender-neutral or gender-sensitive options.

Second, requiring team members to focus on facts and solutions can prevent employees from expressing narrow-minded opinions. But as time went on, man came to mean males only unless specified otherwise.

Little old lady can be rephrased as woman in her eighties; an immature adolescent is better described as a teenager. Heavily biased communication can cause friction between employees, leading to a loss of trust and teamwork.

I could be wrong—and the owner might not realize or care about the impact language has on his traffic. Bias often emerges when employees fail to consider the perspective of audiences from alternate backgrounds.

When we talk about gender bias, we usually mean the belief that men are superior to women. Take my own personal biases.

Potential Managers can take a few critical steps to help eliminate negative sources of bias in business communication. This extends into written communications in a business.

How to avoid gender-biased language in your writing

Gender Biased Pronouns When writing emails, letters, memos, forms, advertisements, presentations and any other form of communication, be aware of gender pronouns.

Your university, career or job, neighborhood, city, or native language. And why not call all human beings mankind? They often end in -ess, -ette, -ienne or —trix. Are you biased against men? In most workplace miscommunication, bias results from a lack of tolerance for competing points of view.

The Americas include both North and South America, so you need to make the distinction.

But the English language—which we learn from others, of course—has been around for a long time. If you write "Attending the meeting were three doctors and an Asian computer programmer," you give more information about your own stereotypes than about the meeting.

Are you identifying with one group and implicitly criticizing other groups? For instance, a company with a bias for professional development may focus its professional communication around asking powerful questions.

So how can they be used to refer to all human beings when half are women?Bias in business communication often emerges when a team member filters language too closely through personal experience, without regard to the insight of peers or customers.

Managers can help develop employees by leveraging communication bias. Bias is so common in speech and writing that we often are not even aware of it.

But it is the responsibility of everyone to become conscious of and write without bias. The following guideline will help you to accomplish this objective. Gender Biased Pronouns. When writing emails, letters, memos, forms, advertisements, presentations and any other form of communication, be aware of gender pronouns.

Choose Your Words: Avoiding Biased Language You cannot avoid writing from perspectives and backgrounds that you know about, but you can avoid divisive terms that reinforce stereotypes or belittle other people. The term "biased language" refers to words and phrases that are considered prejudiced, offensive, and hurtful.

Biased language includes expressions that demean or exclude people because of age, sex, race, ethnicity, social class, or physical or mental traits.

Become familiar with gender-biased language and gender-neutral or gender-sensitive options. The most common situations in which writers should use gender-neutral language involve job titles and pronouns.

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Bias language in business writing
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