Every day, we have the ability and opportunity to create a more accepting world. Even small acts of inclusion can have a big impact on making others feel accepted. Click the spaces below to see the many ways you can encourage inclusivity.

Show me how to act inclusively online

Consider what you “like” and share

Social media has a wide reach, and has the potential to normalize biased behavior and reinforce stereotypes. If you see someone using biased  language in a post or article (even if it’s intended to be a joke), don’t share or like it. Instead, you can respond by identifying the issue and explaining why it could hurt someone reading it.

 

Post responsibly

You can set a good example by doing something as simple as using gender-inclusive language in social media posts. Model posts that are thoughtful and promote healthy, respectful discussion. You don’t have to change minds, but communicating your views can spark conversation, normalize inclusive language, and empower others.

“I had a goal to do something that others haven’t really done, which is to advocate about accessibility and try to help people understand why it’s important.”

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Offer support

Sometimes letting someone know you are an ally is all it takes to make them feel safe and included. It doesn’t have to be a public display. Take a moment to pull someone aside or send a quick text or email — it can be as simple as saying “Hey, I saw what happened earlier; is there anything you need?” or “I’m always around if you ever want to talk about the way that experience made you feel.” When you chat, always reinforce that they are never to blame if they become the subject of biased behavior.

Report abuse

Sometimes users take advantage of the anonymity that the internet provides to harass individuals online. If you see that an account is continually posting biased or harmful language on someone’s page, report it. By doing so, you’re ensuring that online spaces are more inclusive and safer for all users.

Use inclusive language

Using appropriate and respectful language helps those around you feel included, and can set an example for the people you come into contact with. For instance, you might ask new acquaintances which pronouns they use for themselves or use the word “partner” instead of boyfriend/girlfriend. Check out this article on communicating to reduce gender bias, and these communication guidelines relating to ability.

Commit to thinking before you speak

We often use insensitive language out of habit or to be funny, not because we intend harm. But, insensitive language – which can include jokes based on stereotypes – can easily make some people feel unsafe or excluded. It is easier to break this habit when you can commit to thinking before you speak — and looking for opportunities to practice doing so both online and in person.

Respond to biased language

It’s not always easy to know how to respond when you hear or see something offensive. One approach is to ask questions like “Can you tell me what you meant by that?” or “What information are you basing that on?” By responding calmly and engaging others in discussion, you can clear up any misunderstandings and create opportunities for further conversation. If you want additional tips, check out this guide on Challenging Biased Language from our partners at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Recognize or thank people who act inclusively

When someone makes you feel supported or included, let them know that their inclusive and supportive behavior is noticed and appreciated. This type of positive acknowledgement helps everyone to recognize the importance of their actions and encourages them to take more inclusive actions in the future.

 

Start a conversation to create deeper connections

Just because you may appear to be different from someone on the surface doesn’t mean you can’t connect. Use the conversation starters on our Questions to Connect page to get to know someone who comes from a different background or has a different perspective than you. Follow up with a direct message, ask them if they’d like to talk on the phone, or invite them to meet up in person. By taking the step to have a conversation and make someone feel welcome, you get to know them on an individual level and might even make a new friend. You’ll also be encouraging others to do the same.

Explain how bias makes you feel

Instead of labeling a comment as offensive, try to explain calmly how it makes you feel. You might say “I know you didn’t mean to, but that made me uncomfortable because…” or “I’m not sure what you meant when you said that.” By sharing your personal experience, you make others aware of the impact of their actions (even if it’s unintentional) and create opportunities for further discussion.

Turn mistakes into growth opportunities

None of us are perfect, and we’re all going to make mistakes at some point. If you do, simply apologize. You can say something like “I’m really sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking and realize that my actions were hurtful. I could make some excuses, but none would make up for telling such a tasteless joke. I hope you accept my apology.” While making a mistake in front of others can be embarrassing, it can also be a perfect opportunity to model an appropriate response.