It is vitally important that all CEOs remain up-to-date on the latest word and phrase trends within their business sector, as well as in areas of sensitivity, diversity, and inclusion. Such terms can serve as shorthand within the workplace, meaning that every leader should be well acquainted with them and their meanings.
Here are the top five terms and definitions for CEOs in 2021:
- Intersectionality – This has become more and more relevant in recent times, with companies now making efforts to address diversity within the workplace. This finally brings a sense of inclusion to those who are often overlooked and/or devalued. While intersectionality does relate to bias aimed towards minority, female, Latinx, and LQBTQ members, it also refers to overlapping discrimination and marginalisation. For example, women and black people are often discriminated against at work, however, black women can be forced to live with multiple forms of simultaneous bias.
- Bias – Unfortunately, bias comes in two main forms, conscious and subconscious. While many leaders will claim that they are not biased against certain genders, races, sexualities, age, or beliefs, subconscious bias may still exist. Bias is hardwired into the human brain and may not always be obvious to the person behind it. As a result, unfair advantages can emerge when hiring, firing, promoting, etc.
- Microaggressions – These are cues, both behavioural and verbal, that can reinforce negative stereotypes and discrimination. Even if the comments/actions are meant to be funny or complimentary, they can still be viewed as microaggressions. Certain people can be upset or offended by these microaggression exchanges, especially when they revolved around stereotypes relating to age, gender, sexuality, race, beliefs, etc. The most problematic thing about microaggressions is that they are micro, often very subtle and the person in the wrong may not even know it. One prime example is someone asking a co-worker of non-white ancestry where they are originally from.
- Allyship – Being an Ally has never been more prevalent in the working world, especially given the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the globe. The emphasis is on equality through all walks of life, including at work. An Ally is someone who not only fights against stereotypes and for equality, but also acknowledges the experiences of marginalised/suffering employees. Most importantly, an Ally will speak up if they see discrimination.
- Privilege – There are benefits to having a certain skin colour, background, accent, and more – privilege acknowledges that. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has found that those with privilege can often feel uncomfortable, threatened, or accused when confronted about the fact. Some may claim that they are not privileged, while others may list hardships as evidence. Some may acknowledge their privilege on the surface, but claim not to gain advantages from it. Therefore, it is vitally important to have an open conversation about the truths behind privilege, highlighting that different people are handed different opportunities for reasons beyond their control. Personal and honest acknowledgements carry a lot of weight.
Language and phrases used at work can serve a number of different purposes. They provide a sense of reference for CEOs and leaders, but also highlight to employees that diversity, equality, and discrimination are priorities and active topics of open conversation. People at every single level of the company, from top to bottom, should be working as one unit to fight against inequality and discrimination. Using these inclusive words and phrases can assist with this change in workplace culture/conversation.