It’s National Inclusion Week, so we caught up with our associate Ettie Bailey-King. Ettie’s an inclusive and accessible communication consultant. Curious about what inclusive communications means? A week in Ettie’s work life gives us a window into understanding this important aspect of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
I’m kicking the week off with inclusive language training, one of my favourite topics.
This National Inclusion Week, I’m speaking at a mixture of organisations - from some that are just starting their ED&I journey, to some that are well on the way to transformation.
First up is a two-hour inclusive language training for a philanthropic foundation that’s trying to become community-led and anti-oppressive. We’ll cover:
How to talk accurately about the causes of inequality,
How not to blame people for their own marginalisation,
How to tell nuanced stories about injustice, while inspiring people to take action.
Then I’ll spend the afternoon researching and writing my newsletter, before delivering another workshop at the end of the day.
My newsletter takes complicated inclusive language and accessibility and boils them down into simple, practical steps. Recent ones have covered:
How to talk about disability and make your content more accessible,
How to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive,
Why simple writing is better writing.
My next one is about the importance of spelling and saying people’s names right. I spend some time chatting to friends, colleagues and people I’ve met over Twitter and LinkedIn, about why getting our names right is so important, then read through academic research, and listen to some podcasts and videos. Sign up for my newsletter to get the next one as soon as it goes live!
What I’m reading:
An article I loved this week was Janey Starling’s brilliant analysis of how many charities are held back by respectability politics, threats and regulatory restrictions. My key takeaway? As charities we need to keep a laser focus on justice, not doing or seeming good.
Today it’s a webinar for almost 1000 people!
Last week, I designed the training by asking my clients what areas of inclusive language they find confusing, and how they’re working on different aspects of ED&I across the organisation.
Staff tell me they want to get more confident:
sharing their pronouns and asking other people for theirs,
using gender neutral titles and greetings,
spotting sexist, racist and ableist figures of speech, and
communicating in a way that’s clearer for people who are neurodivergent, tired or distracted.
I asked my WRKWLL peers for some ideas about holding space for such a large group, and then equipped with some great tools I spend the morning practicing my presentation, then deliver the webinar over lunchtime.
The group is amazing – super engaged, and full of thoughtful questions. I leave the session buzzing with energy and ideas.
In the afternoon, I catch up with clients and WRKWLL colleagues over email and plan the rest of my week.
What I’m reading/watching:
EDI strategies are a ‘waste of money.’ I absolutely love this from Martha Awojobi. If we dare to call our work EDI, we must be here to name, analyse and unpick systems of oppression. Above all, we’ve got to dismantle White supremacy - which shows up in everything from “white saviour” storytelling to snowcapped senior leadership.
If you want to learn more about anti-racism, I can’t recommend BAME Scholar’s webinars and essays enough. Khadijah Diskin’s session What is Race? is a brilliant breakdown of the history and origins of race.
I’m editing a report for a grassroots collective, about violence against women of colour. I’m helping make the report accessible, so I’ll make changes like:
Choosing dyslexia-friendly fonts,
Making sure graphics and images are accessible,
Simplifying complex language, so it’s easier for people to read (whether they’re tired, distracted or speak English as an additional language),
Structuring the report so it works for screen readers.
I’m giving it an inclusive language review too. The report quotes activists, social workers and community leaders talking about why violence against women of colour happens. I look out for:
Phrases that blame women for experiencing violence (like “chose to stay with her abuser”)
Racist stereotypes (for example, that men of colour are the main perpetrators of gender-based language),
Inaccurate language about young people and criminal justice (“youths with time on their hands get into trouble”),
Plus many more examples of biased or inaccurate language around welfare support, sex work, violent crime, and the role of faith and tradition.
As part of my research, I read books, ‘zines and reports by activists and academics, to figure out the history and symbolism of specific words (like “prostitute”, “sex worker”, “youth” and “young person”). In the afternoon, I talk with former colleagues, activists and people from local organisations.
In inclusive language, there often isn’t one right answer – it’s about rooting our language in the needs and wants of relevant communities, and making a choice that we’re willing to defend.
What I’m reading:
My weeks have been extra busy recently. So I’ve been taking comfort from Sinéad Molloy’s thoughts on why time restriction is good for our creativity: On Thinking Inside the Box.
I really recommend Lauren Crichton’s excellent fortnightly newsletter Pass It On. It’s packed full of practical tips, resources and provocations for all of us in the nonprofit sector.
Today I’m talking to a medium-sized UK charity with a big journey ahead of it.
They have a long history of using “poverty porn” (images and storytelling that reinforce racist, classist and sexist narratives about people living in poverty) in their fundraising. They’re trying to become a genuinely anti-racist and anti-sexist organisation. Together, we need to rethink what stories they tell and how they tell them.
It’s a three month project, with five elements:
Audit – I’ll put all their content under the microscope, analysing how inclusive and accessible it is.
Content planning – I’ll make a detailed content plan showing which bits of content need to be deleted, reimagined or created, and how to do it.
Policies and procedures – we’ll need to rethink their approach to communications safeguarding, and potentially other processes.
Inclusive style guides – a new style guide for the whole organisation,
Inclusive content and copywriting training for the communications team.
It’s our project kick-off call in the afternoon. We spend some time imagining the end of the project: how proud the team will feel, how much more confident they’ll be that they’re doing good when they communicate, and why it matters.
Later that day, I start designing the audit protocol (a tool for systemically assessing and scoring communications content, to measure how inclusive and accessible it is).
What I’m listening to:
As a consultant working with NFPs, TSOs, VCS, NGOs and INGOs (aka the charity sector) I loved this Transforming Jargon podcast. It served up a satisfying mix of satire and serious investigation into sector jargon. The sooner we all ditch the acronyms and speak like real people, the better.
I’m part of Charity So Straight, a campaign to make the charity sector more LGTBQIA+ inclusive. Today we’re holding a lunchtime webinar for our Charity So Straight community. We’re unpacking the term LGBTQIA+, exploring what it means to each of us.
I’ll catch up with my colleagues Kevin and Lucy in the morning, and spend some time chatting to people in our Charity So Straight community Slack channel. (If you’re LGBTQIA+ and work or volunteer in the charity sector, join us!)
After a lunchtime webinar, I check in with clients and WRKWLL colleagues over email.
Then I’ll look back over my week and reflect on things I’m grateful for. This week: the chance to work with so many organisations that are genuinely excited about inclusion!
What I’m reading:
Vu Le’s blog Nonprofit AF is a constant source of inspiration, insights into the charity sector, and cute animal photos. A recent article that particularly spoke to me: Consultants, are you actually making the sector worse? Here are some questions to ask yourselves. Vu asks hard-hitting questions and gives thoughtful, practical nudges for how we can create more justice in the nonprofit sector.
National Inclusion Week takes place between 26 September and 2 October. If you’re looking to improve inclusion across your whole organisation – not just in your communications - get in touch with us. Our diverse team of experts has experience in all aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
I'm an inclusive language consultant. I help you make your equality, diversity and inclusion goals a reality, through internal and external communications.
As an inclusive communication consultant, I help you:
• learn how to confidently use inclusive language through my interactive workshops,
• assess your content on two dimensions:
1) inclusive language and 2) accessibility audits,
• find the gaps and opportunities in your content,
• make a plan with guides, workflows and toolkits to support you as you make change,
• feel brave, confident and supported as you embed anti-oppression across your organisation.
My approach is:
I keep things simple, practical and accessible. I won't bamboozle you with equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) terminology, the deep technicalities behind accessibility, or corporate jargon.
I'm passionate about equality. And that passion makes me rigorous, evidence-based and informed, too. I'm always reading the latest research because I love learning about liberation, not just because it's my job.
I draw on aspects of trauma-informed care and my basic training in counselling to create brave spaces that promote vulnerability and deep learning.
I'll challenge you to be brave, honest and accountable. You'll go outside your comfort zone. These are brave spaces not safe spaces, because that's where change happens.
I won't shame you for using the 'wrong' word or chastise you for not getting started on your ED&I journey sooner. Instead, my clients and I work in genuine partnership. It's a shared journey towards liberation.
I work with you to understand your needs, then suggest totally tailor-made solutions.
There's a place for joy in social impact work, not just hard work.
How would you describe yourself or your work in a few words?
Clear, committed and caring.
Amnesty International UK, the Wellcome Trust, Global Witness, Action Against Hunger UK, Plan International UK.
What do you like to do for fun?
Yoga, creative writing, baking, cooking, brewing, and going for long walks with my dog, Pushkin.
If you had a day where you could do absolutely anything, what would you do?
I'd start the day with a swim in the sea, then a sauna. I'd eat delicious food, go for a long walk with my partner and my dog, and finish the day with a pile of books in a cosy reading corner.