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Linguistic Diversity: barriers, inclusivity and bridging the gap

Linguistic Diversity: barriers, inclusivity and bridging the gap


Language determines how we are able to communicate with each other, and with increasingly diverse communities, language can often become a delicate issue with different languages and different methods that are required to communicate. It is a completely dominant occurrence that employees will typically speak the language of the country the organisation is situated in. Despite this it is essential for companies to cultivate and celebrate linguistic diversity.

When you look at it, language becomes a mode in which we express our thoughts, feelings and expressions and we use language everyday and everywhere and only really notice language when it is something different to what we speak. Apart from different languages from different nations there is also another level of linguistic diversity that is overlooked and that s sign language.

With growing diverse organisations, there are employees from multiple backgrounds that speak different languages there may be language gaps and differences amongst colleagues. What can happen is that there are possible circumstances that make it difficult for colleagues to mesh with each other because there is a barrier or a gap that is somewhat quintessential. Many social science studies that have covered workplace discourse becomes isolated and fragmented with different groups of people choosing to speak to those who they have more likeness to or are more comfortable with.

What language barriers could we encounter in the workplace?

  • Business relations that may require an individual to conduct business in a different language may lead to barriers in relations because ideas, expressions and strong communication can be lost through a translator.
  • Groups or individuals can be left feeling isolated: this can be both individuals who speak another language apart from the dominant one in the language- because lets say for example- English may be their second language and they have stronger language skills in their mother tongue. Conversely those who speak different languages with their colleagues can isolate those who do not know that language and it can lead to miscommunications
  • When data or reports are only presented in a few languages- this is more applicable to large international organisations as opposed to smaller national companies who expand only amongst national territory. It puts the onus on the recipient of the document to translate and ensure that whatever they are translating is correct
  • Also, there may be issues will individuals who have hearing impairments that may require sign language and if there are selected or very few members within the organisation less so the people, they need to communicate with regularly who aren’t able to communicate with that or those individuals


Some of the questions we have to ask ourselves is whether it is beneficial to have training whether it be basic advanced or intermediate with regards to signing language as this will make the environment more accessible and inclusive to everyone.


It is also important to note that language is more than just how people communicate with each other, it is also about the way you use words, and in our ever-changing environment respect towards others especially through language is vital, as language is often our primary communicator.


A prime example is the respect for pronouns, some people may not state their pronouns or may not prefer to disclose them and that is perfectly ok. However, for those who chose to disclose their pronouns, they should be valued and respected. Individuals who identify as non-binary have their pronouns overlooked and ignored in cis heteronormative environments, but this is also a barrier that we should e conscious of.


For many people this may require a process of unlearning language and the way we use words, for coming generations it is important for us to learn and celebrate different identities. And opposed to having to go through the process of unlearning conventional language and identification forms of language and learn about inclusive cultures and identifiers from a much younger age.


Here at DJM we aim to make content as accessible as possible, so we will aim to publish our accompanying podcast right before Christmas, so you have all the content ready for the new year!


As this is DJM’s last post of 2021, we wish all of our readers and (hopefully podcast listeners) a Merry Christmas and a very happy new year, and we will be back fresh in the new year with even more content and projects for you!