Guidelines for Communicating in a Diverse Community
Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives
Bias typically involves a leaning or predisposition on an issue that may inhibit being neutral when
communicating with others. When bias exists in attitudes, it is often reflected in the language and the way in
which individuals interact with each other. Language can have a significant impact on the quality of our
interactions. Many times, we do not intend to exclude or offend others by the words we choose. We may
simply lack information about, and sensitivity to, certain words or phrases. Being aware and mindful of our
language, both written and oral, can help create a supportive and inclusive climate. This document provides
suggestions for eliminating bias from our communication as one means of creating a more inclusive
environment and modeling the attitudes about diversity which the University values. While some basic
suggestions are offered below, the key to effective bias-free communication is treating all people with respect
and consideration regardless of characteristics such as age, gender, gender identity, race, color, religion,
national origin, height, weight, familial status, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, or political
General guidelines for bias-free communication include:
Pay special attention not to limit or imply limitations for anyone to participate in any activity,
occupation or area of study, e.g. "his disability will preclude him from doing this job,” “women
shouldn’t play certain sports.”
Speak of all members of the University community--students, faculty and staff--in relationship to the
issues at hand and the abilities of those involved.
Assign tasks on the basis of ability rather than gender, race, disability, or other irrelevant stereotypical
characteristics, e.g. "we need a man to lift this computer."
Diversity in leadership and presenters is important in demonstrating bias-free communication.