Sometimes the way people say things is more off-putting than what they actually say. If left unchallenged, members who are overly aggressive during debates and questioning can make people feeling excluded, bullied and less likely to stay in the party. This can lead to parties missing out on possible talent and can stifle productive policy discussions.
When organising a debate or discussion, you should think in advance about what would make people feel more comfortable and enable more people to contribute. For example, people from majority groups often speak for longer and can speak over people from minority groups. To address this, you could consider actions such as having timed contributions from people during discussions and ensuring the chairperson chooses a diverse range of people to contribute.
The language checklist:
- Abusive language is unacceptable and should be strongly challenged
- Work with members of minority groups to develop a guide of normalised offensive words which shouldn’t be used in meetings and make this available to members
- Encourage members to think about what they are staying and how they are saying it during debates and questions
- If you aren’t sure about what language or pronouns people prefer, it is ok to ask
- If in doubt use people’s names not physical descriptors of people