UK Finance, EY and Microsoft have released a joint report on how the financial services industry (FSI) can work together to remove non-inclusive language from the technology and cybersecurity sectors.
The report highlights what changes should be made to the language used in legacy application systems and coding to “drive positive action and remove any language that portrays people in an unnecessarily negative light”, says Microsoft.
The research looks at controversial terms that have become synonymous with race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, accessibility and criminality, and explores how these terms have created a barrier to recruitment and left staff isolated.
“Being mindful of the language we use to foster greater inclusion in technology and cybersecurity is a positive step forward,” said Sarah Armstrong-Smith, chief security advisor of Microsoft. “At Microsoft we believe in the power of engaging diverse perspectives. In partnership with UK Finance and EY, the insights offered through this report will foster a more diverse and thriving financial sector as organisations consider their approaches to diversity and inclusion.”
The report also suggests alternatives for commonly used terms aligned to race or ethnicity. For example, “black market” and “white list” could be changed to “illegal market” or “allow list” respectively. Terms such as “sanity check” may infer a level of disability bias or discrimination and could be replaced with “sense check” or “confidence check”, says Microsoft.
“Non-inclusive language can alienate and create an unfair and unequal society,” said David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance. “With thanks to our members, EY and Microsoft, we hope that this report offers firms insight into how making changes to language used in technology and cybersecurity will drive positive action to the benefit of wider society.”
As part of the report, the firms have put together a 12-step guide for FSI organisations to drive sustainable change.
“Using inclusive language is vital to cultivating the right sort of behaviours and, ultimately, achieving the best outcomes,” said Nina Driscoll, director at EY. “We hope this report shows firms across the technology and cybersecurity space just how important it is to use language which makes everyone feel comfortable. Taking a bit of time now to consider the best terminologies to use will be of huge benefit in the future.”