How to Degender Your Site and Implement Inclusive Copywriting

When it comes to inclusive copywriting, one of the most important things to keep in mind is gendered language – as in, degendering your language.

Whether intentional or not, gendered language shows up… more often than you might think.

Not only can gendered language reinforce societal stereotypes, but it can also inadvertently exclude individuals who don’t live outside the constraints of the gender binary. 

That said, in order to create a truly inclusive and welcoming website (and brand, if we’re being honest), it’s essential to degender your site and adopt a more inclusive approach to copywriting – really, language in general. 

Wondering where to get started with degendering your site and tackling inclusive copywriting? 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the strategies and tips that can help you transform your website’s copy into a more inclusive form, fostering an environment where everyone feels seen, respected, and valued. 

What is inclusive copywriting?

Put simply, the term “inclusive copywriting” means using language and messaging that embraces diversity, respects all gender identities, and ensures that everyone feels included and represented.

This means going beyond certain explicit terms and creating a truly inclusive environment for all individuals.

PRO TIP: Inclusive copywriting comes after really digging into your brand message and making sure your brand is created on an inclusive foundation.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the key elements of inclusive copywriting:

1. Gender-neutral language

By using gender-neutral language, you can collectively avoid assumptions about someone’s gender, or pronouns, and create a more welcoming and inclusive space that respects all identities.

Some examples of using gender-neutral language are:

  • Instead of “Hey guys!” → Try using “Hey everyone!” or “Hey folks!”
  • Instead of “salesman” or “saleswoman” → Try using “salesperson”
  • Instead of “his” or “her” → Try using “their” or rephrase the sentence to avoid gendered pronouns

2. Inclusive pronouns

Along with gender-neutral language, using inclusive pronouns means you’re acknowledging and respecting individuals who live life outside of the constraints of the gender binary. 

Using “they/their” in your copy – instead of “he/him” or “she/her” – helps create a sense of belonging and recognition for non-binary and genderqueer individuals.

3. Avoiding gender stereotypes

Inclusive copywriting challenges stereotypes and avoids reinforcing so-called “traditional gender roles”. 

So, instead of simply assuming someone’s interests, abilities, and qualities based simply on the outdated concept of gender, it focuses on human qualities and experiences. 

For example, when it comes to inclusive copywriting…

  • Instead of using commonplace phrases like “Men don’t cry” → Opt for something like “It’s OK to express our emotions”
  • Instead of claiming “Women are the most nurturing” → Say something like “Nurturing qualities can be found in different people”

4. Representation and diversity

Inclusive copywriting also strives to represent diverse identities and experiences. By doing so, it fosters a sense of belonging and ensures that everyone feels seen, heard, and valued in the narrative.

This includes showcasing diverse: 

  • Gender identities
  • Races
  • Ages
  • And abilities

Additionally, by avoiding tokenism and embracing diversity, inclusive copywriting creates a safe, welcoming space where everyone can feel equally seen and valued.

5. Accessibility

Inclusive copywriting also takes into account accessibility needs – such as providing alternative text for images, using clear and concise language, and ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies. 

Considerations like these – outside of what you’re saying – make your content accessible to individuals with different abilities.

By making sure that you’re incorporating all of these elements into your copywriting and marketing strategy, you’ll find it easier to foster inclusivity, respect, and understanding in the content you create. This, in turn, makes it a welcoming experience for everyone who visits your site, reads your emails, interacts with your social media… and everywhere else you’re present!

3 actionable tips for degendering your copy

Now that you have a better understanding of what inclusive copywriting looks like – it’s time to put it into action!

Here are three things you can do today to ensure your copywriting is more inclusive:

1. Review and revise your language

The first place to start with degendering your copywriting is… working on what you’ve already written! Start by conducting a review of your website and content marketing strategy and identifying any gendered language that may be present.

You can do this by:

  • Replacing gendered pronouns: Look for instances where you might have used terms like “he” or “she” and replace them with gender-neutral pronouns like “they” or rephrasing the sentence altogether.
  • Using inclusive terms: Similarly to replacing gendered pronouns, replacing typical gendered terms with more inclusive alternatives will transform your copywriting. For example, instead of using “guys”, try using “folks” or “everyone”.
  • Focusing on qualities and actions: Instead of assuming gender roles, focus on human qualities and actions that aren’t gender-specific. This will avoid excluding people and it will also ensure that your copy resonates with a wider audience.

Looking for help with writing copy that uses inclusive and degendered language? Our Website Copywriting service is designed for business owners and thought leaders who want to share their message with intercultural communication techniques and foster an inclusive, supportive community!

2. Incorporate gender-neutral and inclusive descriptors

Once you’ve started to pinpoint the places where your copy could be more inclusive, you can start to look for specific places, descriptors, and phrases that may inadvertently reinforce ableist, racist, or sexist language.

Here are a few things to keep in mind and look out for while you’re doing this:

  • Avoid ableist language: Ableist language perpetuates stereotypes and excludes individuals with disabilities. Be mindful of using phrases like “Stand up for…” and “Keep your eyes peeled…”, which assume physical abilities. Instead, opt for alternatives such as “Assert yourself” and “Stay tuned”.
  • Prioritize accessibility: In addition to addressing gender inclusivity, make sure your website is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Consider implementing features like alt text for images, proper heading structure, and keyboard navigation options. This will help to create a more welcoming, enjoyable, and inclusive experience for all users. (This also helps with SEO optimization.)
  • Provide inclusive examples and case studies: When showcasing examples or case studies, choose ones that they reflect a diverse range of abilities, gender identities, races, etc. By showcasing different stories and voices, you can empower individuals from various backgrounds to see themselves represented. 

3. Seek input and feedback from diverse perspectives

Inclusivity is a collective effort, and seeking input from individuals with diverse perspectives can be a powerful way to truly degender your copy. If you’re having trouble finding places where you can incorporate inclusive copywriting, consider speaking to an expert – or directly asking your audience! – and seeing where that conversation takes you.

Here’s how you can do that:

  •  Conduct user research: By engaging with your target audience and gathering feedback, you’ll start to notice more and more how your copy can be more inclusive. We all have unseen biases, after all – and your audience can help you find them when you’re having a hard time doing it alone!
  • Collaborate with inclusivity experts: Seek guidance from professionals who specialize in diversity and inclusivity, and use their expertise to refine your copy and make sure that it aligns with inclusive copywriting practices.
  • Create an inclusive culture and community: Foster an environment where your team – and your community – feels comfortable discussing inclusivity and actively encourages feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Just remember: true inclusivity goes beyond mere representation — it involves actively valuing and celebrating the diverse experiences and contributions of individuals from all walks of life. 

More importantly than choosing diverse stock images or mechanically replacing all mentions of gendered, ableist, or racist language, inclusive copywriting and marketing requires a genuine commitment to listening, learning, and evolving your understanding of diverse perspectives. 

All so that you can create a digital landscape where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

When it comes to marketing, inclusive copywriting is the way to go…

At the end of the day, when we work together to consciously examine and revise the language we use, we can create an online space that respects and acknowledges the diverse identities and experiences of our communities. 

If you’re looking to degender your content and implement inclusive copywriting, here are three of our top tips to get you started:
1. Review and revise your language
2. Incorporate gender-neutral and inclusive descriptors
3. Seek input and feedback from diverse perspectives

Whatever you do – never stop learning, researching, or asking questions. 

Creating content and writing copy that is genuinely inclusive is a long-term commitment that involves educating yourself on the nuances of different identities and remaining open to growth and change. 

But don’t let that scare you! 

Through practice, you’ll soon start to realize where and when sexist, ableist, racist, and exclusionary copy shows up – and it’ll be a lot easier to work towards eliminating it from your day-to-day vocabulary.

Looking for brand strategy or copy support?

Schedule a call to learn how we can help you with brand messaging, copywriting, or content marketing!

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