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Deconstructing the language of E,D&I

by Rebecca Rothwell, Relationship Manager

‘EDI, which stands for electronic data interchange, is the intercompany communication of business documents in a standard format.’ So states the first hit when you google ‘EDI’.


The phrase Equality, Diversity & Inclusion is embedded inside Sport Wales, though not necessarily inside sport in Wales. It’s even rarer in other sectors and among the general public. Its acronym EDI is probably jargon, which, ironically, has the effect of excluding people.


Three-word expressions are common in English: three is somehow more effective than two or four, and probably has something to do with how the human brain operates. Or Shakespeare. Definitely Cicero. Of the words themselves, you could argue successfully that equality means diversity and inclusion, and that inclusion means equality and diversity.

The phrase translates to Cydraddoldeb, Amrywiaeth & Cynhwysiant, which, like its English version, trips off the tongue not at all.

What about other words? We could use respect, tolerance, justice or dignity to the same end. Or we could take a leaf out of LEGO’s website and declare that ‘Everyone is awesome’, or echo the Schitt’s Creek motto of ‘Where everyone fits in’.


The ampersand itself is a symbol of equality. It means so much more than its dictionary definition of ‘and’, for whatever appears before and after is equal. Marks and Spencer would imply that Mr Marks was slightly more senior than Mr Spencer. Instead it is Marks & Spencer, the ampersand giving equal weighting to both entrepreneurs: each one being as important as the other. 

Men wearing orange bibs celebrate on football pitch



When we condense words into letters, we may be losing the significance of each word and the whole phrase. The school inspectorate Estyn recently stopped using the acronym LAC and now uses the full phrase, looked-after children, so that the inspector always remembers that they are writing about children. (Ofsted reorders the phrase into ‘children looked-after’, putting children first.) The anonymity of an acronym can create anonymity of the subject too.

LGBTQ+ is another acronym used at Sport Wales, and it appears elsewhere in other forms such as LGBTI. There is a twelve-letter version: LGBTQQI2SPAA. All are coalitional and inclusive, but no matter how many letters are added, anyone or any group not specifically included might feel specifically excluded. By condensing people into letters and acronyms, we talk about them as one community when in reality there are numerous and very different communities, some of which overlap. 


Putting aside any playful discussion on language scrutiny, word order or word choice, intent trumps labels. Ultimately, words matter but it is the intention that spurs the action.

Whichever phrases or words or acronyms or punctuation we choose to use, our sentiment remains fixed: sport is for everyone.