Inclusive language

Our TELUS community of team members and customers consists of many diverse perspectives and identities. So when you create a TELUS communication, it is important to consider how your words will impact everyone who comes across them. Some words and phrases carry meanings that you might not intend and that could unintentionally hurt someone reading it. 

As you develop your TELUS content, we encourage you to consider the context of the words you are using and how your readers might interpret them. This guide will help you navigate inclusive language choices when developing your TELUS work.


Guiding principles

Guiding principles

Every TELUS experience should be an inclusive one. When we are creating content for a TELUS project we need to consider everyone who will engage with it and the context of the words we are using to create an experience for them. 

Here are some guiding principles when writing inclusive content:

  • Use people-first language
  • Be respectful of a person or group’s preference of how they want to be addressed and adjust your communication to reflect those preferences
  • Anticipate a diverse audience and make an effort to reflect diversity in the words and images you use in a TELUS experience
  • Avoid using exclusions, stereotypes and descriptors that portray individuals and groups as less valuable than others 
  • Don’t use colour to convey positive or negative qualities
  • Avoid using descriptors that refer to a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and age unless it is relevant to the context
  • Avoid using terms that are violent, oppressive or ableist 
  • When you are not sure if a word or phrase is inclusive do your research on the context of the word or use an alternative synonym

Every TELUS experience should be an inclusive one. When we are creating content for a TELUS project we need to consider everyone who will engage with it and the context of the words we are using to create an experience for them. 

Here are some guiding principles when writing inclusive content:

  • Use people-first language
  • Be respectful of a person or group’s preference of how they want to be addressed and adjust your communication to reflect those preferences
  • Anticipate a diverse audience and make an effort to reflect diversity in the words and images you use in a TELUS experience
  • Avoid using exclusions, stereotypes and descriptors that portray individuals and groups as less valuable than others 
  • Don’t use colour to convey positive or negative qualities
  • Avoid using descriptors that refer to a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and age unless it is relevant to the context
  • Avoid using terms that are violent, oppressive or ableist 
  • When you are not sure if a word or phrase is inclusive do your research on the context of the word or use an alternative synonym

Gender/Gender Identity

Gender/Gender Identity

In order to not make an assumption on someone’s gender or show favour to one particular sex, we use gender-neutral language when writing content for TELUS. 

Here are some ways you can ensure that your content is gender-neutral and respects our non-binary customers and team members.

  • Pay attention to phrasing; avoid gender-specific terms
  • Rephrase sentences that use the masculine pronoun as a generic pronoun
  • Respect the wishes of someone who offers to tell you their pronouns whether that that be “she/her”, “he/him” or “they/them”
  • Avoid indicating marital status unless necessary (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms)
  • Avoid using terms like “husband” or wife” and use terms like “spouse” or “partner”

Here are a few examples of rephrasing common terms to be gender-neutral: 

  • Chair, not chairman
  • Humankind, not mankind
  • Staffing the office, not manning the office
  • Spokesperson, not spokesman 
  • Ancestors, not forefathers
  • Working hours, not man hours
  • Artificial, synthetic or constructed, not man made

In order to not make an assumption on someone’s gender or show favour to one particular sex, we use gender-neutral language when writing content for TELUS. 

Here are some ways you can ensure that your content is gender-neutral and respects our non-binary customers and team members.

  • Pay attention to phrasing; avoid gender-specific terms
  • Rephrase sentences that use the masculine pronoun as a generic pronoun
  • Respect the wishes of someone who offers to tell you their pronouns whether that that be “she/her”, “he/him” or “they/them”
  • Avoid indicating marital status unless necessary (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms)
  • Avoid using terms like “husband” or wife” and use terms like “spouse” or “partner”

Here are a few examples of rephrasing common terms to be gender-neutral: 

  • Chair, not chairman
  • Humankind, not mankind
  • Staffing the office, not manning the office
  • Spokesperson, not spokesman 
  • Ancestors, not forefathers
  • Working hours, not man hours
  • Artificial, synthetic or constructed, not man made

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation

At TELUS, we respect the identities of our team members and customers.TELUS uses the initialism LGBTQ2+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, Two-Spirit plus. 

Here are few ways we can make our content more inclusive for  LGBTQ2+ team members and customers:

  • Have representation of same-sex partners and families living their experiences
  • Never use umbrella terms and generalizations such as gay or homosexual to describe the entire LGBTQ2+ community
  • Use sexual orientation, not sexual preference
  • Avoid the use of “queer” when referring to the entire LGBTQ2+ community. However, an LGBTQ2+ identifying team member or customer may use the word

At TELUS, we respect the identities of our team members and customers.TELUS uses the initialism LGBTQ2+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, Two-Spirit plus. 

Here are few ways we can make our content more inclusive for  LGBTQ2+ team members and customers:

  • Have representation of same-sex partners and families living their experiences
  • Never use umbrella terms and generalizations such as gay or homosexual to describe the entire LGBTQ2+ community
  • Use sexual orientation, not sexual preference
  • Avoid the use of “queer” when referring to the entire LGBTQ2+ community. However, an LGBTQ2+ identifying team member or customer may use the word

Abilities/Disabilities

Abilities/Disabilities

At TELUS, we use a people-first perspective when it comes to talking about our customers and team members' abilities, and avoid focusing on a person’s limitations and disabilities. While we recognize that not everyone uses this approach, at TELUS this is how we respectfully address people with disabilities

Correct:

  • Use the term “A person(s) with a disability” or to clarify the disability you can say “a person with cystic fibrosis"
  • Explain the person’s disability if it is appropriate instead of focusing on the word “disabled”. Example-  “Ann has a neurological condition and uses a wheelchair.”

Incorrect:

  • Label person with their disability. Don’t use “a schizophrenic” or “the blind”
  • Use terms such as handicapped, crazy, physically or mentally challenged and the disabled
  • Assume someone is living with or without disability (some disabilities such as mental illness are non-visible)

At TELUS, we use a people-first perspective when it comes to talking about our customers and team members' abilities, and avoid focusing on a person’s limitations and disabilities. While we recognize that not everyone uses this approach, at TELUS this is how we respectfully address people with disabilities

Correct:

  • Use the term “A person(s) with a disability” or to clarify the disability you can say “a person with cystic fibrosis"
  • Explain the person’s disability if it is appropriate instead of focusing on the word “disabled”. Example-  “Ann has a neurological condition and uses a wheelchair.”

Incorrect:

  • Label person with their disability. Don’t use “a schizophrenic” or “the blind”
  • Use terms such as handicapped, crazy, physically or mentally challenged and the disabled
  • Assume someone is living with or without disability (some disabilities such as mental illness are non-visible)

Race/Ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity

We recognize and respect the racial and cultural diversity of our TELUS team members and customers. We should never generalize and stereotype based on race or ethnicity. As an inclusive company, we want to be respectful of all cultural backgrounds. 

Here are a few ways we can make our content more inclusive for racialized team members and customers:

  • Avoid identifying people by race, colour, or national origins unless there is an appropriate context
  • If there is a reason to refer to someone’s ethnic identity make sure to capitalize the proper names: Indigenous Peoples, Métis, Cree, Inuit, Arab, Franco Canadian, Jew, Latin, Asian
  • Black is acceptable in all references to people of African descent. In Canada Black Canadian is most commonly used, African Canadian is also sometimes used. When talking about the Black community, we capitalize the letter  
  • Use “racialized persons” as opposed to “visible minorities”
  • “Person of colour” is commonly used to refer to a person or group who is not the majority group in a population or geographic area
  • Note that some reference to hierarchy might be offensive by portraying groups as inferior, criminal or less valued than others:
    • In our technical writing the word “black” is implied to be negative, while “white” is associated with purity. Where “blacklist” and “white space” are used, alternatively use “blocklist” and “open space”
    • The term “minority” may imply inferior social status and is often dependent on geographic location. If you need to use the term, it is preferred that you use the term “minority ethnic group” over “minority group"

We recognize and respect the racial and cultural diversity of our TELUS team members and customers. We should never generalize and stereotype based on race or ethnicity. As an inclusive company, we want to be respectful of all cultural backgrounds. 

Here are a few ways we can make our content more inclusive for racialized team members and customers:

  • Avoid identifying people by race, colour, or national origins unless there is an appropriate context
  • If there is a reason to refer to someone’s ethnic identity make sure to capitalize the proper names: Indigenous Peoples, Métis, Cree, Inuit, Arab, Franco Canadian, Jew, Latin, Asian
  • Black is acceptable in all references to people of African descent. In Canada Black Canadian is most commonly used, African Canadian is also sometimes used. When talking about the Black community, we capitalize the letter  
  • Use “racialized persons” as opposed to “visible minorities”
  • “Person of colour” is commonly used to refer to a person or group who is not the majority group in a population or geographic area
  • Note that some reference to hierarchy might be offensive by portraying groups as inferior, criminal or less valued than others:
    • In our technical writing the word “black” is implied to be negative, while “white” is associated with purity. Where “blacklist” and “white space” are used, alternatively use “blocklist” and “open space”
    • The term “minority” may imply inferior social status and is often dependent on geographic location. If you need to use the term, it is preferred that you use the term “minority ethnic group” over “minority group"

Indigenous People

Indigenous People

There are three distinct groups of Indigenous Peoples in Canada:

  • First Nations 
  • Inuit 
  • Métis 

Rather than making assumptions about people’s origins and identities, use  Indigenous Peoples to refer collectively to First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Use the term “Indigenous” in place of “Aboriginal” to reflect more current practice. “Native” and “Aboriginal” are considered outdated terms.

When referring to the land on which Indigenous Peoples live on, do not use the word reserve but alternatively use territory, community, ancestry or home. 

Avoid colonial language relating to agency when discussing Indigenous issues (e.g. “allow,” “grant” or “permit”).

There are three distinct groups of Indigenous Peoples in Canada:

  • First Nations 
  • Inuit 
  • Métis 

Rather than making assumptions about people’s origins and identities, use  Indigenous Peoples to refer collectively to First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Use the term “Indigenous” in place of “Aboriginal” to reflect more current practice. “Native” and “Aboriginal” are considered outdated terms.

When referring to the land on which Indigenous Peoples live on, do not use the word reserve but alternatively use territory, community, ancestry or home. 

Avoid colonial language relating to agency when discussing Indigenous issues (e.g. “allow,” “grant” or “permit”).


Inclusive technical terms

Inclusive technical terms

Some conventionally used technical terms include references that are considered sexist, ageist, ableist and racist.

Here are a few of those terms and their alternatives:

  • Manpower, man hours → Labour, labour hours
  • Master/Slave → Primary/replica, primary/standby
  • Whitelist → Allowlist
  • Blacklist → Denylist
  • Grandfathering/Grandfather/ Legacy →  Current/Non-Current

Some conventionally used technical terms include references that are considered sexist, ageist, ableist and racist.

Here are a few of those terms and their alternatives:

  • Manpower, man hours → Labour, labour hours
  • Master/Slave → Primary/replica, primary/standby
  • Whitelist → Allowlist
  • Blacklist → Denylist
  • Grandfathering/Grandfather/ Legacy →  Current/Non-Current

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