Your guide to LGBTQ+ inclusive language

LGBTIQ+ inclusive language

Gone were the days when the only motive of the organizations was to gain profits. As we move into a new informative era, employees seek diversity and inclusion in the work environment and consider it as major factors for the workplace. 

Where there is a safe and supportive work culture, chances are that you will find more productive and talented employees. The reason is simple! An optimistic and diverse workplace environment empowers people of all gender and sexual orientation. 

As per the Oxford study, employees who are happy at work are 13% more productive and efficient. 

Do you know inclusive language plays a major role in promoting diversity and demonstrating respect in the workplace? Especially for the LGBTQ+ community who hide their identity because of fear and lack of awareness. It is only after the supreme court’s decision in 2020 to bar discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community that more people are coming out.

Every company should promote real inclusion, diversity, and empowerment (PRIDE) in their workplace by including inclusive language and other important policies. 

Let’s read more about LGBTQ+ inclusive language and understand how can it be beneficial for all: 

LGBTQ+ inclusive language and their benefit

As per GLAAD, around 40% of LGB people and more than 90% of transgender have faced discrimination and harassment at their workplace. Although, with more strict laws and policies, it has come down to a fraction over time.

Hiring people from different backgrounds might be a welcoming move. However, the initiative is only sustainable when the organization truly cares about them and encourages them to succeed at work.

The first step is to promote LGBTQ+ inclusive language to create a safe workplace. The words and the language used in the organization have the power to break prejudice and stigma.

LGBTQ+ inclusive language makes every employee included irrespective of their orientation or identity. This could be when someone is talking to them or when they are not present. The positive word choices will make every employee feel welcomed, respected, and acknowledged. In return, wanting them to contribute more to the organization.

Do you know if the workplace treats all the employees right, this will help them outside work too? 

  • A healthier work culture results in more confident employees
  • The respectful work environment lets employees discover and celebrate their authentic selves.
  • It changes employees’ experience and further improves their personality and behavior.

Positive word choices accept and respect the differences and diversity of employees irrespective of body, gender, and relationship. 

Strategies for LGBTQ+ inclusive language in the workplace

When the workspace is open and positive, you will notice that the company is profitable and respected among the employees and customers. Following are the four main strategies that can help in making the organization inclusive and safe for everyone: 

  1. Incorporating gender-neutral language: Around 42% of non-binary employees faced negative experiences in the workplace. Either because of lack of awareness or gendered words.

Through the above statistics, it becomes clear that gender-neutral language in the workplace is crucial. Not only will it create a welcoming environment for the LGBTQ+ community but this will also help in attracting and retaining the best talent at the workplace. The gender-neutral language ensures acceptance of every employee irrespective of their identity. 

Besides verbal communication, inclusive language should also be used for written communication, procedures, policies, one-to-one group conversations as well as job postings. 

The next section comprises the words and phrases that can be used instead of gendered words!

  1. Learn about gender pronouns: Before stepping into detail, let’s first understand what gender pronouns actually mean! These pronouns are not associated with an individual’s gender. Rather it depends on what they want others to use to reflect their gender identity.

Non-binary people usually don’t fit into traditional gender pronouns. Therefore, it is important to ask the pronouns of the individual instead of assuming the person’s appearance or name. This will not only help in affirming the individual’s identity but is also a fundamental step in being their ally. 

A few of the common pronouns are She/Her, He/Him, and They/Them. 

  1. Providing education and training: It is obvious that not everyone is aware of LGBTQ+ inclusive language. The workplace should assure that proper training and education are given to new hires as well as the existing staff. This should cover not just the definition but in-depth research and complex topics about their community.

If possible, an LGBTQ+ consultant should be called for the same rather than the one who themselves are not much aware of their community and rights. 

The workspace has to focus on genuine inclusion that comprises diverse opinions, beliefs, and ways of working. Workshops and seminars like getting to know each other and working together promote a deeper understanding of the culture and work. 

  1. Establishing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies: 
  • Discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. 
  • According to CNBC, around 47% of people from the LGBTQ+ community who came out lose their job or face negativities in their careers. 

Organizations need to have anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in their workplace. And these should be strictly implemented at the workplace as no employee from any minority community should feel stigmatized and scared. 

The establishment of these policies will assure a safe and comforting environment with equal treatment for every employee. 

Gendered language vs. Inclusive language

Gendered Language

Inclusive Language

Ladies and Gentlemen

Team, Colleagues

Wife or Husband

Partner or Spouse

Maternity or Paternity leave

Parental leave or Parental time off



Sexual preference

Sexual orientation

Ms., Mr. Mrs., He, She

People first names or non-gender specific titles 

Boys or girls 

Faculty members, Employees


Outdated words or phrases to avoid

Outdated words/Phrases

Replacement language 



Sex change 

Gender affirmation 

Biological man/Biological woman 

Cisgender man/Cisgender woman 


Gay or Lesbian 

Preferred gender pronouns 

Personal gender pronouns 

Feminine pronouns/Masculine pronouns 

She/Her pronouns/He/Him pronouns 


Handling mistakes regarding LGBTQ+ inclusive language

Not everyone is 100% aware of the LGBTQ+ community hence, we are bound to make mistakes. There is nothing wrong with it as we are humans however, learning from them and not repeating them is important. 

If you made mistake regarding them, here is what you can do about it: 

  • Apologize to that person, ask and clarify what can be said instead. 
  • If you misinterpret their pronouns in a group conversation, apologize to them personally and assure them that this won’t be repeated. 
  • Don’t assume anything. Listen to them and understand their concern. 

There could be a possibility that our everyday language may include some words that hurt the sentiments of the community. Ensure that you politely clarify it with them and make them realize that they are safe and respected. 

If you are confused regarding their pronouns or culture, you should probably ask them without assuming or solving the query on your own. 

To eliminate the mistakes, you can introduce yourself by including your pronouns and can make a habit of asking their pronouns as well. 

In a nutshell

When the organization genuinely starts caring about different genders, sexualities, and sex, there will be cultural diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Using LGBTQ+ inclusive language will not only contribute to making an organization profitable but also leads to more happy and productive employees.