Inclusive language

52 Diversity and Inclusion Quotes from Experts on Inclusive Language

The intention behind this article is to enlighten readers about the importance and impact of inclusive language in the context of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). By referring to the insights and wisdom of leading DEI experts, the hope is to enhance awareness, stimulate dialogue, and inspire action towards creating more inclusive environments.

In an era where words matter more than ever, understanding and embracing inclusive language is a crucial aspect of fostering an inclusive culture within organizations. Inclusive language, deeply embedded in the discourse of DEI, reflects our evolving understanding of people, their identities, and experiences.  

What is Inclusive Language

Inclusive language refers to communication that respects and acknowledges diversity by being sensitive to all backgrounds, identities, and experiences. It consciously avoids expressions that can exclude, marginalize, or offend certain groups of people. For instance, using "they" as a singular pronoun can respect and acknowledge those who do not conform to the binary male/female gender system. Similarly, referring to "humankind" instead of "mankind" includes all people, not just men.

The connection between inclusive language and DEI is intrinsic and powerful. Inclusive language acknowledges diversity, advances equity by respecting and representing all people, and fosters inclusion by making everyone feel valued and respected. In essence, it reflects the DEI principles in action, making it a crucial part of any DEI initiative.

The Role of DEI Experts

DEI experts play a pivotal role in guiding and shaping the culture of an organization. As thought leaders and catalysts for change, they bring awareness to biases, facilitate challenging conversations, and promote strategies for inclusivity, including the use of inclusive language.

Their insights and perspectives are invaluable as they have a deep understanding of the complexities of diversity, bias, and inclusion. They are uniquely positioned to offer both macro and micro perspectives, understanding not only systemic and institutional challenges but also the individual experiences within those systems.

Through their words and actions, DEI experts illustrate the transformative power of inclusive language, showing us how words can either reinforce existing inequalities or challenge them, opening doors to a more inclusive and equitable society. Thus, their quotations and insights, like those collected here, offer us invaluable guidance on our journey toward greater inclusivity.

52 Quotes on Inclusive Language from DEI Experts

The 50 quotes that follow represent a diverse range of experiences and perspectives among DEI experts. They underline the significance of inclusive language in fostering a sense of belonging, respect, and equity in the workplace. These quotes serve as a testament to the power of language as a tool for transformation and the impact it can have in shaping more inclusive and understanding work environments.

“Inclusive language is crucial for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as it fosters respect, reduces bias, improves communication, and promotes equal opportunities. It builds trust, attracts diverse talent, and demonstrates cultural competence, leading to a positive social impact.”

Adam Travis

Adam Travis, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at Logitech

“Using a digital tool that educates everyone about the language they use helps us to make really meaningful, sustainable, and long-term change within the organization as we navigate through our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journey.”

Holly Smith

Holly Smith, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Partner at Personio


“Inclusion is a choice to bring the diversity of human truths to the table. An inclusive language is the vehicle to empower mere voices into impactful and wanted contributions.”

Lily Kriegs

Lily Kriegs, Inclusive Culture and Belonging Partner, Spryker


“By building and working towards having inclusive language in the workplace, we create a tapestry of understanding where every individual finds their rightful place, it's the best way to say to employees “I see YOU.”

Suzan E

Suzan Elhajj, Operations Project Manager at Indeed


“Inclusive language isn’t just about choosing different words. It’s a meaningful way to bring people together, helping us all to understand and respect each other’s unique lives and experiences. For the person hearing it, it can be a profound affirmation that they belong, are seen, and are valued.”

Rachael Evans

Rachael Evans, Co-Founder of NewEdj LLC, Strategist and Lecturer

“Language not only frames our worldview but also forges the very reality we live in. As the dominant society defines the ‘Other’, they, in turn, shape the essence of their own identity. This intricate bond often lies beneath the surface, yet its impact resonates through every aspect of our lives. To transcend these boundaries, we must embrace a language of unity, understanding, and inclusivity, fostering a world where every voice is valued, and every identity is celebrated.”

Michael Ferrenbach

Michael Ferrenbach, Founder and Managing Partner Diversity Academy

“Inclusive language is an essential outcome of Dignity at work. When we hold ourselves accountable for respecting, valuing, and treating people ethically, we have no problem using language representing everyone.”

Nichelle Appleby (sheher)

“Inclusive language should be a given from my (ethical) perspective. Because it is not only by claim but genuinely a language for all people. Inclusive language means that gender is not a moral category. It is thus an important tool in our fight against patriarchy.”

Janina Loh

Prof. Dr. Janina Loh, ethicist at Stiftung Liebenau and an honorary professor at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg


“Inclusive language isn't merely corporate jargon or a checklist. It's a powerful vehicle that carries the essence of respect, equality, and empathy, weaving a corporate culture where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.”

Raul Krauthausen

“Inclusive language helps us pay attention to and give value to people who have been historically devalued and marginalized.”

Dr. Suzanne Wertheim, CEO of Worthwhile Research and Consulting, Author of the book "The Inclusive Language Field Guide"

“The narrative around diversity and inclusion is shifting slightly to diversity and belonging. It is for that reason that inclusive language is important so that everyone feels like they belong and can see themselves in that seat at the table.”

“Inclusive language is not a code, but the essential algorithm for collaborative and artificial intelligence.”

Norman Müller

Norman Müller, Founder of Tech-Startup Accelerator GENIUS ALLIANCE and Podcast Producer

“Inclusive language is an attitude.”

Gudrun Sander

Gudrun Sander, Director Research Institute for International Management, formerly Director Competence Centre for Diversity and Inclusion

“Inclusive language creates trust and a sense of belonging. It is an important element of a respectful and collaborative workplace.”

Amaliny Yoganathan-1

Dr. Amaliny Yoganathan, Startup Advisor and DEI Speaker


“Most of us believe that all people should feel safe and respected, but many of us also aren’t sure how to advocate for others in our workplaces and communities. Practicing inclusive language is one way we can take personal steps toward creating spaces and cultures of inclusion.”

jackie ferguson

Jackie Ferguson, Host of the top-rated podcast "Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox", VP of Content & Programming at The Diversity Movement, Author of the book "The Inclusive Language Handbook"

“The use of gendered language perpetuates gender stereotypes. It is best to avoid using gender-specific pronouns if it's irrelevant to the communication. Incorporate the use of gender-neutral words in your regular conversation.”

Hira Ali

“By embracing inclusive language, we create a powerful sense of belonging and affirmation, ensuring no one is left on the sidelines of progress. It is through our words that we build bridges of understanding and cultivate a world where diversity thrives, and true inclusion becomes a lived reality.”

Adaku Okafor

Adaku Okafor, Founder PhoenixRize Consulting, Award Winning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant

“Words are powerful and have power so we cannot underestimate the impact inclusive language can have on your employee’s health outcomes, a feeling of belonging, a feeling of safety, and opportunity to not only survive but to thrive in a world filled with messages of othering and hate.”

Tamara Thorpe

Tamara Thorpe, Principal Consultant at Language and Culture Worldwide, TEDx Speaker

“Diversity is you because you are unique. Inclusion is accepting you because you matter.”

Furkan Karayel

Furkan Karayel, Author of the book "Inclusive Intelligence", Multi-Award Winning Global Diversity Inclusion Leader 

“To be truly inclusive international teams must make sure that the language they use is understood by all team members.”

Robert Gibson

Robert Gibson, Interculturalist, Author of the book "Bridge the Culture Gaps"

“In any corporate setting, language serves as the primary mode of communication, shaping not just the flow of information, but also the identity and culture of the organization. When the language used within the workplace reflects the diversity and individuality of its members, it sends a powerful message of acknowledgment and validation.”

Bridget Greenwood

Bridget Greenwood, Founder of The Bigger Pie, Co-founder of The 200Bn Club, Women In FinTech Powerlist Standout45, Top 100 Women of The Future, European Women in Finance 2022

Words are powerful weapons; accents are beautiful melodies; both help dignify people's lives and sense of belonging; for migrants and other communities, these also represent their souls. Let's embrace and empower the difference and savour the uniqueness. We all deserve to be respected and valued, regardless of our language or accent.

Sandra Ruiz Moriana

Sandra Ruiz Moriana, Senior Project Officer and International Consultant at UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), PhD candidate “Migrant women and labour market”

“Women are not a diversity dimension! They are the majority of the talent and a majority of the market. Misframing means underestimating the potential and power of gender balance.”

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of 20-first, TEDx speaker


“Everyone's road to self-identification is personal and unique to their journey as a Disabled person living in a world inaccessible to them. Both person-first and identity-first language are valid. The power of language lies in our understanding that people with disabilities come from all backgrounds, ages, sexes, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds.”

Hebatullah Issa

“Inclusive words attract engagement that helps to foster a culture where everyone feels welcomed and has a personal sense of  belonging.”

Sylvia Stevenson

Sylvia Stevenson, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at  Integrated Care 24

“Words are powerful - they don’t just describe the world - they shape the world and they mold how we think and the scope of what’s possible - in a corporate world it’s not about ‘policing’ our language or those of our colleagues - it’s about liberating it.”

Máirín Murray

Máirín Murray, Impact Innovator at Digital Doddle, Creator of TechFoundHer, Co-founder of Tech for Good Dublin

“Language is important, and so are the words we use.”

Cynthia Hass

“Inclusive language is a win-win because it also helps organizations enhance their employer brand and reputation which is good for business.”

Leyla F Karaha

Leyla F Karaha, Lead Organizer Techstars Community Events,  Founder of KPesa, Founder of YourY Network

“The impact of using the word WE in our corporate conversations can bridge many gulfs that are created by You vs Me and Them vs Us.  Together WE can scale sustainable mountains higher. Let's do it!”

Radhika Viswanathan

Radhika Viswanathan, Head Human Resources at Ozonetel Communications

“In the tapestry of humanity, diversity weaves vibrant colors, inclusion nurtures unity, and belonging cultivates harmony. 

Monika Gostomska

Monika Gostomska, Senior Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Strategist at Randstad supporting Google

“The way we speak to each other shapes our workplace culture and sends - even unconsciously - very clear messages about who belongs and who doesn't.”

Anne Graefer

Dr. Anne Graefer, Founder of GenderIQ


“When we prioritize using inclusive language that values and respects every individual, we create an atmosphere where everyone feels a sense of belonging and their contributions are valued. It's like building bridges that help us understand each other better and create a safe environment where everyone can be their authentic selves, do their best work, and thrive.”


Silvija Delekovcan, Director People Team at Inspectorio 


“Words matter and how we use them to advocate for inclusion as leaders, entrepreneurs or companies is key for change.”

Daniela Felletti

Daniela Felletti, Founder and Multilingual Diversity Equity and Inclusion Consultant at Talents Connection

“When designing experiences, I pay extra attention to the words I use, ensuring they are not ableist. For example, we often see buttons that say “watch,” “read,” and “see,” which implies that everyone can see or listen. I started swapping them for “explore,” “discover,” and “learn more.”   It’s also important to use pictures and illustrations that represent folks from various communities, including people with disabilities.”

Max Masure

Max Masure, Senior Inclusive UX Strategist, Inclusion Consultant at Wondros, Author of the book "You don't Suck, Overcoming Imposter Syndrome"

“My approach to inclusive language is within the frame of an international company that is composed of people from around the world. The inclusive language should be the local language (where the company is physically located) and also the language that most people speak and understand in the company.”

Brenda González Jiménez

Interpreting the Quotes and Applying DEI Expert Insights

All the quotes underscore the criticality of inclusive language in creating a healthy, welcoming, and progressive organizational culture. They touch on various themes, highlighting the broad spectrum of inclusive language's impact. Here are the recurring themes and novel insights:

The power of language in shaping reality: This perspective, shared by individuals like Mairin Murray and Monika Gostomska, points out that language doesn't just reflect our world; it shapes it. This echoes the linguistic relativity theory, suggesting that the language we use can influence our perception and cognitive processes. Use your words to shape a more inclusive, accepting world. Think of your language choices as part of a larger effort to change societal norms and expectations.

Inclusive language as a tool of respect, equality, and empathy: Many experts, such as Raul Krauthausen, Dr. Suzanne Wertheim, and Jackie Ferguson, highlight inclusive language's role in creating an environment where everyone feels acknowledged, seen, and heard. It's not just about meeting a requirement or following a trend; it's about empathy and recognition of individuality. Make an effort to understand and respect the identities and experiences of others. This requires continuous learning and unlearning.

Inclusive language for a strong corporate image: Some quotes, such as those from the Founder of YourY Network and Radhika Viswanathan, suggest that inclusive language can also enhance a company's reputation and brand.

Beyond diversity - belonging and affirmation: Dawolu Saul and several others speak about the evolving narrative of diversity and inclusion, which is now leaning more towards 'belonging'. Inclusive language can help people feel that they truly belong to an organization, moving past the mere acknowledgment of diversity. We must work on fostering a culture of belonging. Use language that invites participation and emphasizes the value of every individual’s contribution.

Addressing biases and stereotypes: Hira Ali, Brenda Gonzalez, and others emphasize the role of inclusive language in dismantling gender biases and stereotypes and the need for creating language policies that consider an organization's unique composition. Consciously avoid using language that reinforces gender stereotypes. This goes for all types of biases, not just gender-based ones.

Inclusive language in international contexts: Robert Gibson and Brenda Gonzalez underscore the importance of making sure everyone understands the language used within international teams, advocating for the importance of considering the diverse language and cultural backgrounds of team members. In an international context, ensure the language used is understood by all. This may involve implementing policies for clear and considerate communication.

Inclusive language for self-identification: Hebatullah Issa highlights the role of inclusive language in supporting the self-identification process. We must honor this self-identification by respecting the language preferences of individuals when referring to their identities. If someone prefers a particular pronoun or descriptor, honor that preference in your language use.

The role of technology: The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Partner at Personio brings in the role of digital tools in educating about inclusive language and facilitating long-term change within organizations. Consider using digital tools that can educate and promote inclusive language within your organization. Tools like Witty can be a game-changer, enhancing your understanding of biases and promoting empathy on a daily basis. With Witty, understanding and empathy are not just a one-time training, but an everyday reality.

Inclusive language in design: Max Masure provides an interesting perspective on incorporating inclusive language in user experience design, highlighting the importance of avoiding ableist language and promoting diverse representation. Inclusive language isn't just for spoken or written communication; it's important in design too. Be mindful of the language used in your designs, ensuring it doesn't exclude or marginalize any group.


Inclusive language serves as a cornerstone in building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. It transcends beyond corporate buzzwords into the realm of mutual respect and empathy, fostering a sense of belonging among diverse individuals. Taking to heart the expert insights shared, we realize that the journey towards inclusivity is continuous. It demands a commitment to challenge biases, understand cultural nuances, honor self-identification, and leverage technology to foster understanding. As we strive to implement these lessons, remember that tools like Witty can support us on this journey. Witty aids in cultivating daily empathy and understanding, making inclusion more than a one-time training, but a lived reality.

Peace Aisosa

Meet Peace Aisosa, a passionate data analyst and technical writer who thrives on making complex topics digestible for non technical audience. She excels at extracting insights from data and crafting narratives that resonate. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the intricacies of data, she is a master at bridging the gap between the technical world and the everyday user.


Subscribe to our weekly mailing

Stay in the loop with carefully crafted articles about inclusive language and tips to improve diversity & inclusion in the workplace.

Latest Articles

“Person First” vs. “Identity First”: Understanding the Approaches

“Person First” vs. “Identity First”: Understanding the Approaches

The debate between “person first” and “identity first” language centers around how we describe individuals with disabilities or conditions....

Image GenAI: Uproar over diverse images in Gemini questionable

Image GenAI: Uproar over diverse images in Gemini questionable

Google's Gemini faced backlash for diverse AI-generated images, including people of color as US founding fathers, sparking debate over hist...

Ethics Board 2024 Update

Ethics Board 2024 Update

As we kick off the new year, I am excited to share the progress made by the Witty Works ethics board throughout 2023.