Are you unsure when writing about race and ethnicity?

In 2020 the Black Lives Matter movement brought new momentum for improving equality and diversity in the workplace and highlighted the importance of language and how it has evolved and is used.

“As someone who loves languages, I’ll admit to being very nervous when it comes to writing about aspects of diversity and inclusion outside my experience,” says Sue Bramall, Managing Director.

“Fortunately, there are now lots of good books on the subject and plenty of online resources and webinars to help you understand this vast issue. As with learning anything new, it is inevitable that we make mistakes. Fortunately, more knowledgeable friends and colleagues have been very gracious in helping me understand when I have got thing wrong.”

As one Diversity Equity & Inclusion professional said to me:

“We are all awkward in the DEI process and continually learning--no matter how much related experience we have. The only thing I know for sure is that if I thought I had it all right, I'd be wrong.”

To help those working in the legal profession, The Law Society has published a useful guide to race and ethnicity terminology and language.

The authors highlight how language is continuously evolving and how there are words, phrases and acronyms used when talking about race and ethnicity which often change depending on the context of the conversation.

‘It’s also imperative to remember that individuals will have their own particular preferences as to how they would describe themselves, and how they would wish to be described. Identity is extremely personal. You should listen, educate yourself, learn, and politely ask about preferences, if in doubt.’

The guide explores:

  • the difference between race and ethnicity;
  • definitions in the Equality Act 2010;
  • the differences between commonly used terms, such as:
  • ethnic minority, minority ethnic or minoritised ethnic;
  • BAME and BME;
  • tips for having conversations about race, ethnicity, racism and discrimination;
  • understanding ‘white privilege’; and
  • the difference between being anti-racist and non-racist.

Click here for the link to the Law Society Website.

A useful American resource is the The Diversity Style Guide.

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