Company: Freddie Mac
Innovation Title: Freddie Mac Inclusive Content Guide
Company Website: www.freddiemac.com
Year Introduced: 2021
What Makes this Initiative Unique:
Freddie Mac strives to capture and accurately portray the diversity of the human experience as part of our longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). As such we partnered with Rachele Kanigel, Chair of the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University and Editor of The Diversity Style Guide to create our own custom inclusive content guide. Our guide includes references from diversity organizations such as the National Association for Black Journalists along with feedback from our Business Resource Groups, communication professionals and other DEI champions in the company.
The guide consists of usage guidelines for commonly misused or misunderstood terms in these areas: DEI, Age/Generations, Disability, Gender, Housing, LGBTQ+, Race and Ethnicity, and Technology.
The Why Behind the Purpose:
Communicating is a critical aspect of most jobs at Freddie Mac and doing so in a way that gets our message across to intended audiences is key. Using language that is inclusive not only strengthens our message but also enhances clarity. Paying attention to how we communicate also prevents distracting and insensitive use of words, expressions, stereotypes and imagery that exclude or discriminate against others. Ignoring the principles of inclusive content risks alienating customers, readers and viewers, and an uninformed and inaccurate choice can become a potential financial or reputational risk.
The Positive Change:
The Freddie Mac Inclusive Content Guide serves as an educational and reference tool to help everyone at Freddie Mac communicate in respectful and inclusive ways when reaching out to increasingly more diverse audiences.
We launched the Freddie Mac inclusive content guide in November 2022. The roll-out plan included an all-employee article, fire-side chat, and targeted training with the editor for communicators, BRG leaders and DEI champions within the company and reminder messages throughout the year to encourage people to reference the document. Best practices were also shared externally at two conferences for communication professionals on ways in which other organizations could develop their own inclusive content guide. The inclusive content guide is undergoing its annual refresh given the pace of change in language.
Teams across Freddie Mac continue to embed principles of inclusive language into how they work. Our Talent Acquisition team uses software to identify and mitigate potential bias in language in our job descriptions, helping to ensure the language is more inclusive for jobseekers. Teams within our Enterprise Operations and Technology division have also made changes to industry terminology used in their processes to be more inclusive. Our inclusive content guide was also used to help refresh our gender transition guidelines.
All Freddie Mac employees are impacted — especially those whose jobs involve communicating internally or externally. In doing so, we can continue to use words and images that convey respect for all people, sensitivity to differences and a commitment to accuracy.