International Ombuds Association Adopts Gender Inclusive Language

March 24, 2022

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) has decided that it’s time for a name change. After years of discussions, IOA members recently voted to become the International Ombuds Association, recognizing the need for a more inclusive name by dropping “man” from the end of the title. The UC Berkeley Staff Ombuds Office has used gender inclusive language since its creation in 1984.

As Ombuds, we deeply understand the power of words. Words inform our perceptions, influence our behavior, and shape our worlds. Recognizing that words communicate our values, we are changing the way we communicate and describe our profession, thereby creating a more inclusive platform for diverse interests and opportunities in the Ombuds arena.

Having a gender specific title not only dissuades diverse interest and application into our field, but it also fails to accurately reflect the population we serve. More so, research has showed that gendered language narrows professional opportunities for women and more broadly it widens the gap of social inequity.

Not only will the IOA change the name in the title of the association, but also in all forms of communication. This name change does not mandate other offices to change the way they identify themselves as professionals nor their office, but hopefully it will influence other Ombuds and offices to expand their name to be more inclusive of a more diverse community of Ombuds professionals. While the name change is not a professional mandate, its momentum is here to stay and sets the tone for more inclusive changes to come. It is a change worth celebrating as we do here at the Staff Ombuds Office.