How do I say this?

As a senior writer at Padilla, I ask myself that question a lot. I always want to get it right – but in conversations about racism and racial equity, there’s an added layer of urgency and significance.

Language is always evolving, of course. When we choose a career in communications, we commit to a lifetime of continuous learning. From social media catchphrases to the latest industry terminology, we need to keep our finger on the pulse so we can help clients find the right words for the right audiences at the right times.

Sometimes, like now, that’s really not an easy task. We’re in a time of especially rapid change. And, as we enter our third year of a global pandemic, life itself can be overwhelming. We’re tired. Finding the right words in any setting can be more challenging than usual, but we still want to get it right. Especially in the national conversation around racial equity, where concepts and terms are emerging, evolving and converging all the time.

Like many of you, we’ve been working to build our understanding, advocacy and action at Padilla. One way we’re supporting each other is by maintaining an internal writing guide to support clear, consistent and effective communication. It’s a living, breathing document that we update as we continue reading and researching.

We’ll be sharing insights from our guide throughout the year to offer tips and thought starters – watch this space! To get started, we’ll look at three essential qualities for business writing in 2022. These should serve as the foundation – and gut check – for all of your company’s communications.

Authenticity

When addressing social issues and current events, the usual communications best practices apply. Always speak in your company/brand’s tone and voice – and be sure your writing is aligned with the mission and values.

Adaptability

Right now, many of us are trying to educate ourselves and our colleagues – even as our language and cultural understanding continue to evolve. Be open, flexible and patient with yourself and others as you learn, grow and adapt.

Action

People appreciate words of support from companies and brands, but they’re looking for more than empty platitudes. Be sure to share the specific actions you’re taking to dismantle structural inequities and build a more equitable environment within your company and industry.

And, again, be authentic – the actions you take should make sense for your organization. If they don’t, they’ll be viewed as disingenuous rather than sincere efforts to drive change.

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