Inclusive language exists so that the word choices we make don’t cut out segments of the population unintentionally. There are, of course, times when word choice appropriately narrows the field of discussion: one might think it reasonable to use only female pronouns when writing about the experience of giving birth, for example. But outside of issues of biology, there is just about always a good argument for using terms that include everyone.
Ontario Public Service
The Ontario Public Service Correspondence Style Guide says “few jobs or professions are the exclusive domain of [either] men or women. To reflect this reality, the language we use to describe someone’s profession should be gender neutral.” Use firefighter, not fireman and staff not manpower, it gives as examples. You can get that 2006 guide as a PDF download.
Public Service Commission of Canada
The Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC) gives these guidelines for non-sexist language (as it calls it): “Use occupation and position titles that are gender-neutral. Avoid words or expressions formed with ‘man’ or ‘woman’ or the ending ‘ess’.” Examples given include police officer, not policewoman and manager, not manageress.
Where some publications have tried to circumvent implied gender bias by stating “the masculine also refers to the feminine,” the PSC of Canada specifically advises against this shortcut. Instead, it advises replacing gendered terms with a plural, an article, or a noun as possible. “He or she” is given as only a last resort solution. Parentheses and slashes as solutions are prohibited: he (or she), (s)he, or he/she.
Even avoiding always stating the male of a pair first is admonished; as is stating the female first always. Balance is advised.
Editing Canadian English 3
Editing Canadian English (ECE3) calls this concern “gender fair writing” (section 2.3). It advises replacing the generic “man” and “he” (manufactured, not man made), avoiding unnecessary feminine forms and gender stereotyping, as well as giving genders parallel treatment. It acknowledges that the neutral “they” is a solution for formal and informal writing.
ECE3 extends the advice—as our journalistic style guide, The Canadian Press Stylebook (CP) does—to staying on topic: don’t mention a spousal relationship unless it is relevant to what is being described. “The spousal role” is how ECE puts it.
Sexism is the section of the CP in which you’ll find its gender-related writing advice. It speaks of avoiding gendered terms such as housewife (use shopper instead; a loaded statement in itself) but allows gendered terms such as postman if the gender is relevant to the story and suggests that “person-eating tiger is being a bit hypersensitive.” Businesswoman and some similar forms are also permitted under the CP style. Plural forms are advised as a way to avoid gendered forms or his/her constructions.
The Canadian Style guidelines for Elimination of Sexual Stereotyping are found in section 14.02, and the use of pronouns is addressed in section 14.04. The guidelines are much like those above.