ACES 2019 included a group of sessions that addressed several aspects of diversity and inclusion in our workplaces. A pattern emerged among the feedback. Several attendees asked presenters:
“Where can we go to ask these questions in the future?”
During the “Hey Guys” session on Saturday morning, Laura Browning of The A.V. Club at Onion Inc. recommended establishing guidelines for sensitive situations ahead of a crisis. Don’t wait until something untoward happens to start thinking about inclusive language. Seek out resources concerning sensitive topics ahead of time.
In other words, educate yourself. Make it a policy in your workplace for everyone to know what your organizational stance is. It’s fairly common practice to ask the resident _ _ _ _ person what to do when their _ _ _ _ is related to the content. I get that. But, don’t add to the burden of those who have marginalized identities by requiring them to make these decisions in the moment.
During the conference and in general, we flocked to purchase the books of our colleagues and friends. We use these resources to build our knowledge. We want to have an array of tools to help us sculpt sentences and perfect paragraphs. I suggest that we must be just as committed to inclusivity as we are to brevity and clarity. The first step of practicing this commitment is to seek information that will broaden our perspectives, help us implement inclusive policies, and help us write comprehensive house style guides.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of books you can use as a starting point. These books aren’t about language specifically. Rather, they are memoirs or histories that can help the reader see the systemic inequalities that built our society and economy.
This list is designed to provide perspective, to give editors the arguments we need to support our queries or changes to our house style guides. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Dilane Mitchell is a sales support representative who is dedicated to making her team an efficient but compassionate and inclusive machine.
When Style Passes You By was originally published in Tracking Changes (Summer 2019 edition). Members receive a PDF of the quarterly Tracking Changes newsletter by email.