It is essential for companies to have a clear and concise diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) style guide. This document ensures that everyone in an organization is on the same page when it comes to using language in a way that is respectful and accurate.
What is a style guide?
A style guide is a document that provides standards for writing and speaking. It covers topics such as grammar, punctuation, formatting, and vocabulary that is unique to the organization. Many people will be involved in creating content and it is important to have a guide to ensure consistency.
A style guide can be as long or as short as you need it to be. Some organizations choose to keep their style guide short and sweet, while others opt for a more comprehensive document. The important thing is that your style guide is clear, useful, and easy to understand.
Why is it important for nonprofits to have a DEI style guide?
DEI style guides are essential for nonprofits because they help create an environment in which everyone feels welcome and respected. The use of inclusive language can help reduce the incidence of bias and prejudice in the workplace. Furthermore, having a DEI style guide can show donors and grantmakers that your organization is committed to equity and inclusion.
Not every organization needs a style guide. But if you want to ensure that your organization’s content is respectful, accurate, and inclusive, then a DEI style guide is a good option.
What should be included in a DEI style guide?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the content of a DEI style guide will depend on the specific needs of your organization. However, there are some general principles that should be taken into account when creating such a document.
First and foremost, a DEI style guide should be clear and concise. It should avoid jargon and overly technical language. Second, it should be accessible to everyone in your organization. Third, it should be updated on a regular basis to reflect changes in the use of language. Finally, it should include resources for further reading on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
When creating a DEI style guide, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
1. Defining your organization’s commitment to DEI:
This is usually done in the introduction of the style guide. Here, you’ll want to provide an overview of what your organization’s stance is on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This can be elaborated on further in later sections, but it’s important to set the tone upfront.
2. Listing out which terms should be used and which should be avoided:
In this section, you’ll want to provide a list of terms that are considered inclusive and respectful, as well as a list of terms that are considered exclusive or offensive. This will help ensure that everyone in your organization is using language that is respectful and accurate.
3. Explaining why certain language choices are important:
It’s not enough to just tell people what language to use – it’s important to explain why certain language choices are important. This will help people understand the implications of their words and how they can impact others.
4. Offering examples of how to put the guidelines into practice:
Providing concrete examples of how to put the guidelines into practice will help people understand how they can apply them in their everyday lives.
5. Regularly update the style guide:
It’s important to regularly update the style guide to reflect changes in the use of language. This will ensure that your guide is always up-to-date and relevant.
6. Rely on references:
Inclusive language libraries like The Diversity Style Guide or the American Psychological Association provide a robust glossary of terms that can be included or referenced in your style guide. Another powerful tool is the Inclusivity Tool by Whole Whale which can check any page of content for over 1000 updated non-inclusive terms for free.
Style Guide Templates and Examples
- Example of a DEI style guide from The California State University
- Official AP Style Guide
- Plain Language Style Guide from US Government
- Huge list of all US Department style guides
Tools to create a style guide
There are a few different tools you can use to create a style guide, depending on your needs.
If you want to create a basic style guide, you can use a Google Doc or another word processing software. This is a good option if you just want to get something up and running quickly. Other organizations may build a style guide into their instance of confluence or Notion which are internal knowledge management systems.
If you want to create a more comprehensive style guide, you can use a tool like InVision App or Webflow. These tools allow you to create interactive documents that are easy to navigate and share with others.
Finally, if you want to create a style guide that is specific to your website or web application, you can use a tool like GatsbyJS or ReactJS. These tools will allow you to generate a style guide that is tailored to your specific needs but may require a developer.
Use these tips as a starting point for creating your own DEI style guide. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach – so tailor the content to meet the specific needs of your organization. Identify someone to lead the creation of the guide but also pull in a small group to make sure multiple voices have input into the final product. When a near-final draft is ready, find a time to present it to the team for further input and buy-in.
A well-crafted DEI style guide should be clear, accessible, and regularly updated. It should also include a list of inclusive terms, offensive terms, and an explanation of why certain language choices are important.