Merge's Blog

Using inclusive language is not difficult

Emily Nichols is my professional colleague.  She is also an engineer who loved working in factories, but she didn’t always love being “one of the guys”.  She reminds us that words become habits, language evolves, and we control them both. She shines a light on language that limits our thinking and invites us all to deliberately choose our own words.  I’m delighted that she’s agreed to share her recent TedX talk on inclusive language on our blog today.

Are you “one of the guys”?

Once upon a time, I was “one of the guys”, and that meant I had made it. Survived engineering school, got a good job in manufacturing, and downplayed my gender just enough to *kind of* blend in.  But, after two engineering degrees, three manufacturing plants, and seven pairs of work boots, I started to wonder: What if we didn’t have to be “one of the guys”?  That question is the title of my TEDx talk, and it has an important message for leaders: words shape our world.

Inclusive language for leaders

Gendered language is pervasive at work – “I need six guys”, “I know a guy” – and yet it often goes unnoticed and unchallenged. The words we choose are a signal to our colleagues and team members. Do we expect them to conform and fit in, or do we truly see, hear, and value them? This is an invitation to reconsider your everyday word choices and use inclusive language as a leadership tool. Do you “know a guy”, or do you know someone who can solve the problem? Let your words be an example for others to follow.

Most people think gender equality is too big for one person to solve. But one person can make a difference, with their words.

Are you using inclusive language?  What words are you using? Please share by adding a comment below.

Speaking from the stage or the factory floor, Emily Nichols works with organizations that want to equip their technical teams with human skills so they can become better problem solvers, team players, and leaders. A professional engineer with decades of experience in manufacturing, Emily easily connects at all levels of organizations, inspiring deeper understanding and collaborative teamwork. And she makes learning fun! You can reach Emily at

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