Skip to main content

Diversity, equity and inclusion terminology

Ally — Someone who speaks up on behalf of someone else; using one’s own voice to project others’, less represented, voices

Bias — An attitude or belief; a predisposition to see events, people or items in a positive or negative way.

Color-blindness — Term that explains the attempt to disregard racial characteristics in an effort to refute racial discrimination and/or promote meritocratic ideals. Proponents of color-blind practices believe that treating people equally inherently leads to a more equal society and/or that racism and race privilege no longer exercise the power they once did, while opponents of color-blind practices believe that color-blindness allows those in power to disregard or ignore the history of oppression and how it is experienced today

Cultural competence — The ability to effectively engage and work with people of different cultural identities and backgrounds  in culturally relevant ways; to ensure that information, products and  services are offered in ways that respect and promote the cultural values of the intended recipients 

Culture — The patterns of shared basic assumptions, behaviors, and experiences within a group of people that are learned by and taught to new members in order to guide them in the appropriate and inappropriate ways of perceiving, thinking, feeling, and acting

Discrimination —  Actions or thoughts, based on conscious or unconscious bias, that favor one group over others

Diversity —  Refers to a range of human differences that include the primary or internal dimensions such as age, sex, gender, race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability and sexual orientation; and the secondary or external dimension such as religion and/or belief systems, nationality, and socio-economic status.

Equity —  The creation of opportunities for historically excluded and underrepresented populations to have equal access to and to participate in educational programs that are capable of achieving parity in educational outcomes and experiences; includes race-conscious awareness of how race and ethnicity can affect the opportunities available to an individual. (

Implicit bias —  Unconscious unintentional prejudgments about a person based on group affiliation; inflexible positive or negative belief about a particular group of people; operates below the conscious level; “emphasizes ‘all’ people in this group. Exposes stereotyped thinking.

Inclusion —  involves the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity, where each person is valued, respected and supported for his/her/their distinctive experiences and perspectives to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to experience personal fulfillment and participate fully in the workplace and learning environment.

Stereotype —  an oversimplified image or statement applied to a whole group of people, without regard for the individual. Stereotypes imply all people in the group are identical, based on some dimensions of diversity they share. Stereotypes often contain a judgment.