History of the Guidelines for Inclusive Writing

Section: Inclusive writing

Go to the main page of this section: Inclusive writing – Guidelines and resources.

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The Guidelines for Inclusive Writing project

In July 2021, in an effort to support the Government of Canada’s diversity and inclusion priorities, a number of departments and agencies formed the Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing. The members of the Working Group came together to address the many questions that federal public service employees have about how to apply inclusive writing principles and techniques in their English and French communications.

Mandate of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing

The Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing adopted the following mandate:

To promote writing, at the federal level, that contributes to inclusion and respect for diversity and is free of discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation or any other identity factor:

  • by developing inclusive writing guidelines and resources in English and French for the federal government and any other interested organizations, in consultation with federal, provincial and territorial institutions
  • by publishing these guidelines and resources on the Language Portal of Canada, a website managed and maintained by Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Translation Bureau

Working Group membership

The Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing is co-chaired by three federal departments:

  • Women and Gender Equality Canada
  • Canadian Heritage
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada (represented by the Language Portal of Canada, Translation Bureau)

More than 35 federal, provincial and territorial organizations have also contributed to the development of the Guidelines as members of the Working Group. Representatives from these organizations actively participated in Working Group meetings, shared their organization’s inclusive writing practices, participated in drafting the Guidelines or provided feedback through a consultation process.

Below is a list of the member organizations of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Bank of Canada
  • Canada School of Public Service
  • Canadian Foundation for Innovation
  • Canadian Heritage
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Department of Finance Canada
  • Department of National Defence
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Government of British Columbia (Ministry of Education)
  • Government of Quebec (Office québécois de la langue française)
  • Government of Yukon (French Language Services Directorate)
  • Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada
  • House of Commons
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • Indigenous Services Canada
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • Library of Parliament
  • Mitacs
  • National Arts Centre
  • National Film Board
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • Parks Canada
  • Public Service Commission of Canada
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Shared Services Canada
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Statistics Canada
  • Telefilm Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • Women and Gender Equality Canada

Consultations and work completed

The Guidelines are the result of the shared knowledge of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Inclusive Writing. From the very beginning, the Working Group gathered relevant resources developed by its member departments and agencies. It then drafted guidelines that summarized all the information collected and identified common inclusive writing practices. In the course of its work, the Group observed that there was no one source that provided a significant number of practical solutions for inclusive writing. It therefore compiled and expanded on the examples found in the various documents the members had provided, in order to create a new tool: the Inclusionary.

For the purpose of ensuring that all groups concerned were represented, broader consultations were undertaken with equity, diversity and inclusion networks; language and communications specialists; and other individuals from member organizations with a special interest in inclusive writing. The Working Group also made a point of consulting networks representing gender and sexual diversity communities within the federal government, including the 2SLGBTQI+ Secretariat and the Public Service Pride Network. The co-chairs would like to sincerely thank everyone who volunteered their time to help with developing the Guidelines.

The many comments received during these consultations (more than 2,000 in English and French) were carefully reviewed. The content was then thoroughly revised with a view to ensuring that the proposed Guidelines reflected the perspectives and realities of diversity groups.

As inclusive writing is a rapidly evolving field, the Working Group will continue its efforts, and the Guidelines will continue to be updated.

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© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement
A tool created and made available online by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada