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Author's profile photo Colin Scuffins

The DEI Fatigue Is Real: How to Overcome It and Create a Culture of Belonging in Your Workplace

Words matter, as we all know.

Recently, I attended an insightful online workshop hosted by the Irish chapter of Pride@SAP. The topic was the importance of using inclusive language in and outside of the workplace. It reminded me of the undeniable power of words.

The session was not primarily about being politically correct or avoiding offense. Rather, the workshop demonstrated to me, along with helpful input from attendees, that inclusive language is here to help us create a sense of belonging in our societies and workplaces.

It helps us to create an atmosphere where everyone feels respected and valued for who they are as people — rather than, inadvertently or otherwise, being excluded.

Create a culture of belonging rather than exclusion (Image courtesy of Shiju Mon Soman)


“I Can’t Say Anything!”

I understand that some people feel overwhelmed by the need to be mindful of their language and how it impacts others. As Forbes recently reported, with the superbly satirical title, “I Can’t Say Anything!”, this can lead to what’s known as DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) fatigue.

But let’s take a moment to consider this: if you are feeling fatigued by the need to use inclusive language, imagine how tiring it must feel to be constantly excluded or disrespected due to the language that others use. How does this impact well-being, performance, and potential?


Let people know your pronouns to inform and support (Image courtesy of Pride@SAP)


Let inclusive language be your signature style

As individuals, we all have a responsibility to create inclusive and equitable workplaces and societies. As organization leaders, the responsibility is even greater, because the power is in your hands — or should I say, words — to set the tone for your teams.

One example is how we can make everybody in our teams feel like they belong by doing something as simple as adding our pronouns to our email signatures (e.g., “he/him/his”). Normalizing the practice helps allies to share the responsibility rather than placing the burden solely on members of the LGBTQ+ community to publicly disclose their identity for this purpose.

Another idea is to begin meetings with an inclusive greeting such as “Hi Team/Folks/Everybody” rather than versions of “Hi Guys!”. In Ireland, where I am based as Communications Director for BTP Experience, we are fond of the phrase, “Hi Lads!”, to greet everybody. It is so ubiquitous in our country that farmers use the phrase to greet their cows, as the Irish presenter of the workshop amusingly put it.

By using inclusive language, we avoid assumptions, stereotypes, or judgments about people based on their identity or background. We recognize and honor the diversity of human experiences and perspectives.

To not move with the times in this regard is to side with the status quo. And, in my humble opinion, leaving people out of the conversation is so last century.

See the SAP Diversity and Inclusion Report for 2022

Related to this topic, the timing of the workshop I attended coincided with the SAP 2022 Diversity and Inclusion Report, which I would recommend reading to see the positive impact of the company’s strategy in this regard last year.

Finally, I encourage you also to join me in learning more about inclusive language. Here are some other resources that I found helpful:

Thanks very much for reading and joining me on this journey toward recognizing the power of inclusive language to shape our world in a positive way. Have a wonderful day. 

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