Building a more inclusive world through language

Words have power. What we read and write in emails or comments on social media can influence how we perceive the world. It’s important to use positive, gender-neutral language in your writing to be inclusive and respectful of others. Read on to learn how to write messages that really speak to everyone.

What is inclusive writing?


Inclusive writing means avoiding gender-specific language and opting for gender-neutral constructions instead.

When you write this way, you make sure everyone is represented equally, no matter how they identify (male, female, non-binary, etc.).
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Carrying the torch

Inclusive communication isn’t new. The movement began in the 1980s and has evolved over time.

“There’s no shortage of ways to adapt a text to avoid gender-specific language. With a few small tweaks, you can produce a more inclusive text and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s truly rewarding,” says Annie Dumont, a writer for the Desjardins website.

Here are some ways to be inclusive in your writing:

  • Opt for plural pronouns (“they” instead of “he or she”)
  • Choose gender-neutral titles (“chair” instead of “chairman”)
  • Use non-gendered constructions (“Hello, everyone” instead of “Hello, ladies and gentlemen”)
  • Address the person directly (“Send your application by email” instead of “The applicant must send his or her application by email”)

Language is constantly evolving

Using gender-specific language is a reminder of the inequalities that persist in our society. Language is not frozen in time. It adapts and evolves along with us.

“Neutral constructions reflect a more inclusive culture and foster a sense of belonging in society, free of discrimination through language,” explains Annie Dumont.

How to use inclusive writing at Desjardins

A comprehensive approach

Inclusion is an important value - This link will open in a new window. for Desjardins.

For some time now, the Desjardins website editorial team has been choosing neutral constructions to write more inclusively.

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“Society is changing,” says Annie Dumont. “It’s becoming more inclusive and word choice is an important part of that.”

The spirit of inclusion

When it comes to change, a small team can make a big difference.

The Desjardins website editorial team conducted a series of interviews with LGBTQ+ communities.

The goal was to explore the needs of these communities and their relationship to Desjardins to identify specific ways to make the website more inclusive.

All participants agreed that Quebec fosters a positive environment for expressing their differences in 2021. Acceptance of LGBTQ+ communities is growing, but gender stereotypes are still very present and can negatively impact our relationships with others.

For members of the LGBTQ+ community, it is vital that communications speak to everyone.

“Our inclusive writing initiative was well-received by everyone we spoke to, and many of our colleagues had already begun thinking about it,” says Annie Dumont. “It was time to take action!”

“And it’s going very well, says Annie. Several other teams are interested in pursuing similar projects. We’re making progress, one inclusive message at a time.”

We’re part of a large, diverse community. Using gender-neutral language in our writing is one more way we’re working toward a more inclusive society. We want to help build something bigger than ourselves that makes a difference in the lives of people and communities.

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