HSRI embraces inclusive communication principles

Date: 05/2024

Author(s): HSRI Racial Equity Team

The Human Services Research Institute affirms its commitment to accessible communication to all populations and promotes the dignity and value of diverse individuals. As part of this commitment, we are developing a series of resources to provide guidance describing who we are, who we serve, what we do, and the systems we seek to change. Here, we are sharing two resources we have developed to support the principles of inclusive communication.  

The first resource explores alternatives to the term "stakeholder." In recent years, it has become apparent through multiple sources that this term is largely considered offensive due to its roots in colonialism and the oppression of minoritized populations. Further, overly broad terms like “stakeholder” can result in a lack of clarity regarding specific recommendations and guidance related to engaging or understanding specific groups. This resource specifies alternatives to consider when describing various groups and communities. 

The second resource describes the importance of using language that uplifts communities while acknowledging the impacts of systemic racism, in particular health and social inequities. Originally described by Trabian Shorters as "asset framing," this rhetorical approach focuses on describing communities by their strengths before describing their challenges or barriers. Asset framing can also be used to explore data on how systems contribute to inequitable outcomes. HSRI has developed a preamble that can be integrated into existing communications and deliverables to explain the intention and deliberate use of asset framing. 

We recommend our partners review these resources and welcome any feedback you have to improve them. We also encourage the widespread sharing of these resources so that other organizations may consider adopting similar inclusive communication principles. 

For questions or comments, email Lauren Terry (lterry@hsri.org). 

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