Inclusive Language in Tech: An Introduction

In the fast paced world of information technology, it is essential to foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed and respected. Creating inclusive environments fosters a sense of ease, enabling enhanced communication among peers. A key aspect of cultivating inclusivity is through the use of language and communication. By adopting inclusive language practices, we can create a more supportive and diverse community. 

In this blog post, we will explore various ideas for promoting inclusive language in IT-related content and in your daily life, ensuring that our words reflect the values of inclusivity, respect, and empathy. 

Tech industry DEI

The tech industry has long struggled with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Despite advancements in technology and innovation, the industry continues to face significant challenges in creating a workforce that is truly representative of the diverse society it serves. 

According to a blog post by Lever, 8 in 10 tech executives are white, and only 37% of tech companies have a woman on their board. This post also mentions that “24% of employees feel their orgs have done nothing to improve DEI, just 32% feel their employers are actively working towards a DEI strategy for their company.” 

Unconscious biases, hiring practices that favor certain demographics, and a lack of inclusive company cultures contribute to the ongoing struggle. While some organizations have made efforts to address these disparities, progress has been slow, and the industry as a whole must recognize the urgency and importance of embracing DEI initiatives to create a more equitable and inclusive tech landscape.

How to establish inclusive environments in the tech industry

Now let’s take a look at a few ways to build inclusivity across your IT working environment.

Using gender-neutral language

Gender-neutral language is pivotal for promoting inclusivity. Gender-neutral language refers to the use of words and expressions that do not imply a specific gender or exclude individuals based on their gender identity. 

Consider replacing gender-specific terms such as "he" or "she" with gender-neutral alternatives like "they" or "them." Additionally, avoid assuming someone's gender when referring to professionals in the IT field. Instead of "programmer guys," use "programmers" or "IT professionals" to be more inclusive and avoid excluding any gender identities. 

Encouraging pronoun inclusion

Inclusive language also involves respecting individuals' pronouns. Encourage the use of personal pronouns by including them in your introductions or bios. This allows your fellow coworkers and peers to see which pronouns you identify with and will create a more inclusive environment right off the bat. 

Additionally, creating awareness by providing brief explanations or resources about gender-neutral pronouns and how to use them in a respectful manner can be incredibly useful. Some folks may have a harder time understanding which pronouns to use in which situations and so periodically touching base will make for a more sound and smooth relationship.

According to Harvard University, gender pronouns include:

  • She/her/hers/herself
  • He/him/his/himself
  • Personal gender pronouns are the pronouns that people ask others to use in reference to themselves. They may be plural gender-neutral pronouns such as they, them, their(s).

Acknowledging intersectionality

Intersectionality recognizes that individuals possess multiple intersecting identities that shape their experiences. When discussing IT-related topics, be aware of the intersectionality of identities such as race, gender, sexuality, disability, and more. Make sure to ensure that your language reflects this understanding and avoids reinforcing stereotypes or excluding any particular group. Below is a list of accepted alternative terms that should replace oppressive terminology.

Oppressive Term

Inclusive Term


Block List, Denied, Deny List


Allow List, Approved, Safe List

Red Team

Cyber Offense

White Team

Cyber Exercise Cell

Yellow Team

DevSecOps Team

Blackhat (hacker)

Criminal/Unethical Hacker

Whitehat (hacker)

Ethical Hacker

Housekeeping Tasks

Maintenance, Upkeep


Blank, Empty Space


Primary/Secondary, Parent/Child, Active/Passive


Web Product Owner

Scrum Master

Agile Program Manager, Scrum Leader, 

Native Feature

Built-In Feature


Legacy Status, Preexisting

Mob Programming

Team, Swarm


Closed Box


Open Box

Dummy Value

Placeholder Value, Sample Value

Blind To/Deaf To




Cultivating inclusive terminology

In IT, certain terms and jargon may accidentally exclude or alienate individuals who are unfamiliar with them. Make an effort to explain complex concepts in a way that is accessible to a broad audience, avoiding unnecessary technical jargon. Where specialized terms are necessary, provide clear definitions and explanations to ensure everyone can understand and engage with the content. 

(See how our Splexicon simplifies complex cybersecurity, Splunk and tech concepts.)

Recognizing cultural sensitivity

The IT industry is a global community with diverse cultures and backgrounds. Be sure to acknowledge and respect cultural differences by being mindful of your language choices. Avoid using idioms or colloquialisms that may not translate well or may be misunderstood by individuals from different linguistic or cultural backgrounds. Strive for clarity and inclusivity by using plain language and providing contextual explanations when necessary.

DEIB at Splunk

Over the past year, Splunk has undergone transformative changes in the realm of DEI. In 2022, the company took a significant step by expanding the scope of DEI to encompass DEIB, which stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. This crucial shift, combined with numerous other meaningful advancements, demonstrates Splunk's ongoing commitment to fostering a more inclusive atmosphere and establishes a solid foundation for further progress. 

Check out this quick video about DEIB at Splunk: 

(Learn more about Splunk’s DEIB strategies.)

Wrapping it up

Creating an inclusive language in IT-related content is a powerful way to foster a sense of belonging and respect within the community. By using gender-neutral language, encouraging pronoun inclusion, acknowledging intersectionality, cultivating inclusive terminology, and recognizing cultural sensitivity, we can contribute to a more welcoming and inclusive IT environment. 

Inclusive language is an evolving practice that requires ongoing learning and dialogue. Stay open to feedback from others in the IT community and be willing to learn from your mistakes.

Let's aim for inclusivity in every aspect of our language and communication, enabling a diverse range of voices to be heard and valued in the world of information technology!

What is Splunk?

This posting does not necessarily represent Splunk's position, strategies or opinion.

Samantha Dunn
Posted by

Samantha Dunn

Samantha Dunn is a summer intern for the growth marketing team at Splunk. Samantha is pursuing a degree from North Carolina State University in Business Administration and is interested in the ways IT will change in the coming years and how it will impact our lives.