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DEI 101

DEI 101


We are all functions of the system in which we live; a system that has taught us how to think about ourselves and others, how to interact with others, and how to understand what is expected of us. These thought processes and expectations are based upon the specific set of social identities into which we were born that predispose us to unequal roles, which allow us access (or deny access) to resources.

The information here provides a basic overview of important considerations related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). It is crucial that you continue expanding upon this knowledge and look further into any concepts with which you are unfamiliar and/or curious about.


Key Terms

Bias: Refers to prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared with another, usually in an unfair way.

  • Implicit Bias (also known as unconscious bias): Refers to the attitudes based upon stereotypes we have been taught that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner; the attitudes and beliefs are often involuntary and individuals’ have neither awareness nor intentional control of them.
  • Explicit Bias (also known as conscious bias): Refers to attitudes and beliefs we have about a person and/or social group, on a conscious level, based upon stereotypes we have been taught; the attitudes and beliefs are formed and acted upon with deliberate thought.

BIPOC: Stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Pronounced “bye-pock,” this term is specific to the United States, intended to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous groups and demonstrate solidarity between communities of color.

Culture: Refers to shared beliefs, attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterize individuals, groups or organizations.

Cultural Competence: A type of social fluency gained by learning about another culture’s language, set of customs, beliefs and patterns. It enables individuals to tailor their approach to be culturally responsive and sensitive.

Cultural Humility: An approach to sociocultural differences that is “self-first.” It emphasizes intersectionality and understanding one’s own implicit biases. This approach cultivates self-awareness and self-reflection, bringing a respectful willingness to learn to interpersonal interactions.

Discrimination: Refers to when an individual suffers an adverse consequence on the basis of a protected class. An adverse consequence is when someone is deprived of or denied a material benefit.

Diversity: A wide range of qualities and attributes within a person, group or community. All the ways in which people differ, encompassing all the characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. When we celebrate diversity, communities and workplaces become richer, drawing upon the variety of experiences, perspectives and skills people can contribute.

Equality: The state of being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources and opportunities, regardless of their circumstances. In social and racial justice movements, equality can increase inequities in communities, as not every group of people needs the same resources or opportunities allocated to them to thrive. When we focus on equality, our ultimate goal is fairness.

Equity: The state, quality or ideal of being just, impartial and fair. Equity refers to fair and just practices and policies that ensure all thrive. Equity is different than equality in that equality implies treating everyone as if their experiences are exactly the same. Being equitable means acknowledging and addressing structural inequalities—historic and current—that advantage some and disadvantage others. Equity means that everyone gets what they need to succeed. When we focus on equity, our ultimate goal is justice.

Inclusion: The conditions allowing diverse individuals to show up and participate fully in an institution, organization or group. Acknowledging and valuing people’s differences so as to enrich or shift social planning, decision-making and quality of life for everyone. In an inclusive society, we all have a sense of belonging, acceptance and recognition as valued and contributing members of society.

Intersectionality: Refers to the interconnected nature of multiple identities, including race, class, ability, age and gender. It is the interplay of one’s identities, the status of those identities, and the situational context of how, when and where those identities show up and influence personal experience(s) within multiple dimensions of societal oppression.

Justice: The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, classes, gender, etc., that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone. All people can achieve their full potential in life, regardless of race, ethnicity or the community in which they live.

Liberation: The creation of relationships, societies, communities, organizations and collective spaces characterized by equity, fairness, and the implementation of systems for the allocation of goods, services, benefits and rewards that support the full participation of each human and the promotion of their full humanness.

Microaggressions: Refers to commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward culturally marginalized groups.

Oppression: Refers to the systematic treatment of a particular social identity group in an unfair and cruel way.

  • Internalized Oppression: Refers to the adoption and acceptance of the dominant social group’s ideology by members of the targeted social group, meaning the targeted group believes the prejudicial and discriminatory treatment is deserved, natural and inevitable.

Power: Refers to the capacity to exercise control over others, deciding what is best for them, and deciding who will have access to or denial of resources.

Prejudice: Refers to an unfavorable opinion formed without sufficient knowledge or facts, usually rooted in stereotypes.

Privilege: Refers to unearned access to resources due to a person’s social group membership(s). Privilege is a right or exemption from liability or duty, granted as a special benefit or advantage that is at the expense of another person and/or group of persons.

Racial Equity: The condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, one’s access to opportunity and one’s outcomes.

Stereotype: Refers to overgeneralized beliefs about a particular group.

Social Identity: Refers to a person’s sense of who they are based upon their group membership(s).

Socialization: Refers to the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society that we have learned through every institution we interact with i.e., education, church, peers, family, laws, media, business, etc.).

Additional Resources and Reading

An excellent glossary of DEI-related terms is available from firstup’s “Inclusive Language Glossary."