Skip to Content
Personal Insights
Author's profile photo Yash Agrawal

Inclusive Language at SAP

During my graduation, I volunteered for an NGO working with veterans. And got to hear first-hand accounts of what Indian society was like under British rule. How the heads of the local tribes were subjected to public humiliation and abuse, and how the whole tribe was Gulam (slave) to the Gore Sahab (white masters)

In the software space, we have terminologies like “master and slave” and “whitelist and blacklist” – which are not discriminatory by intent and are used to express the ideas of process and structure. But regresses our associations to these terms in a social and historical context.

When we are exposed to such racial tone in our daily interactions, we leave our thoughts open to be accepting of these terms in our language. Here is where we can do better. We need to imagine an experience not our own but of someone for whom these teams can be social triggers. By being more empathetic and compassionate, considering how these terms can cause barriers in our communication – we can and should adopt a more inclusive language. Afterall language is the most powerful tool of human expression.

There are teams that already use terms like provider/consumer, primary/secondary, or allowlist/blocklist, instead of these terms. There are some that say these changes are silly – as these terms are not used as with the intent of discrimination. So, I say why not try it, there is nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.

The new terms — with guidance from SAP terminology experts are available now on the SAP Help Portal.

Here’s what colleagues at SAP had to say –

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Joachim Rees
      Joachim Rees

      Thanks for speaking up, Yash Agrawal

      And also thanks for the explanation, I think it was not obvious to everyone how language hurts people.

      Author's profile photo Yash Agrawal
      Yash Agrawal
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you Joachim Rees