"Word choices often reflect unconscious assumptions about values, gender roles and the abilities of women and men. Gendered language is still commonplace in both the workplace and everyday life....As UNDP personnel and development professionals, it is paramount to examine our messages to reduce or eliminate word choices that silence, stereotype, or constrain others."
To close persistent gender gaps in the workplace, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has supported governments to implement a Gender Equality Seal Certification Programme for Public and Private Enterprises. The initiative leverages the key role that the private sector can play in creating equitable conditions for men and women, which is critical to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme offers governments a platform to reduce inequalities in the workplace, promote good labour practices and policies, strengthen relationships with the private sector, and support south-south cooperation.
Companies that are awarded the Seal are recognised for meeting specific standards to promote gender equality in the workplace. This resource supports one of the key areas for Gender Equality Seal certification: using inclusive, non-sexist communication. (Other areas include: eliminating gender-based pay gaps, increasing women's roles in decision-making, enhancing work-life balance, enhancing women's access to non-traditional jobs, and eradicating sexual harassment at work.)
Designed for colleagues working in communications and knowledge management, Gender Focal Points and members of Gender Focal Teams, and colleagues speaking on behalf of UNDP, the resource aims to help readers identity sexist language and provide guidance for inclusive language for written communications as well as visual and audio materials. After sharing the rationale of gender-sensitive communications, it outlines and details 6 principles for written and oral communications (with examples of gender-biased language and gender-sensitive alternatives):
- Ensure that women and men are represented.
- Challenge gender stereotypes.
- Avoid exclusionary forms.
- Use equal forms of address.
- Create a gender balance.
- Promote gender equity through titles.
The resource also highlights principles for audio and visual materials: ensure women and men are represented equally; and challenge gender-stereotypes with images (examples are provided). It concludes with a list of further reading on gender-sensitive communication, with options in English, Spanish, and French.
Originally pioneered in Latin America, the Gender Equality Seal Certification Programme is expanding globally. Over 400 companies across 10 countries have been certified since 2009.
UNDP website, July 10 2017. Image credit: UNDP