The Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA) is a charitable, Zewo-certified foundation that runs holiday camps for young Swiss abroad aged 8-14.
Twice a year, thanks to FYSA, Swiss children and teenagers have the opportunity to come to Switzerland and get to know the country better.
FYSA launched its new web presence at the beginning of the year. They were assisted by SwissGlobal, which helped them use inclusive language for the project. FYSA project manager Sibylle Kappeler recalls why this was an important issue and how it was implemented:
Ms Kappeler, inclusive language was a key issue in the redesign of the FYSA website. How important is inclusive and gender-sensitive language for FYSA and, in your view, for modern society in general?
One of the values we cherish at FYSA is showing tolerance and respect for social and cultural diversity within the holiday camp community. This diversity also naturally includes gender identity. By using inclusive and gender-sensitive language, we are consciously allowing room for the full spectrum of genders and thus recognising the identity of every participant.
Including individual diversity is seen as necessary by the children and young adults of today’s society in particular, and we at FYSA are taking steps such as using inclusive language to respect this need of a young, modern Switzerland.
How did you end up approaching SwissGlobal for help with inclusive language?
Our external communication via our website is in German, English, French and Italian. We quickly realised that the various differences in grammar between the languages meant that we would not be able to impose any universal rules for all four languages. There was also the fact that each language community had its own preferences in terms of how it implemented inclusive language. As we analysed our corporate language in this way, the SwissGlobal newsletter on the assistance they could provide in this field came to our attention.
Which specific procedures and resources did you use to incorporate gender-sensitive language successfully into your online presence?
Working with SwissGlobal, we were able to determine what inclusive language represents for each language community today. The next step was to set out guidelines for each of the four languages that define how inclusive expressions are to be used in our website texts. These guidelines are now used by both our translators and our employees at the FYSA office.
Has there been any feedback from your community, your clients or your stakeholders on the new FYSA website?
We have received plenty of praise for our new, cool online presence. No-one has made any specific remarks about the inclusive language, which we think is a good thing. Apparently, everyone can identify with our inclusive language.
How was your experience with SwissGlobal? Do you have any tips for companies and organisations looking to approach the topic of inclusive language?
We found a partner in SwissGlobal that was able to create a very consistent principle that suited our needs and that we could apply to multiple languages. If any other companies or organisations are facing the same challenge, we recommend that they also seek help from professionals who have a good overview of modern language usage in language communities.