Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Diversity and Inclusion: Glossary

Diversity and Inclusion Resources





Dominant attitudes in society that assume there is an ideal body and mind, leading to discriminatory behaviors toward people who differ from this norm.


The design, development or state of physical or digital environments, resources and services that are easy to reach, enter, use, see, etc. for all users.

Affinity bias

The tendency to connect with people who look and seem most like ourselves.


A person who takes action against oppression out of a belief that eliminating oppression will benefit members of targeted groups and advantage groups. Allies acknowledge disadvantage and oppression of other groups than their own, take supportive action on their behalf, commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of these groups, and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression. 

Behavioral diversity

Behavioral Diversity relates to personal experiences that help shape our world view to be more open-minded and accepting of others who are different than us.


The feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group or place.


Systematic patterns where our brains stray from rationality in judgment which can result in attitudes for or against a person, group or concept especially in a way considered to be unfair.

Cognitive diversity

Cognitive diversity accounts for differences in our perspective and the way we process information.

Confirmation bias

Seeking out or only noticing information that reinforces our existing beliefs.

Conscious prejudice

Preconceived, usually negative, feelings towards people based solely on their group membership, like religion, race, ethnicity or age.

Cultural competence

 A congruent set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable a person or group to work effectively in cross-cultural situations; the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each (National Association of Social Workers, 2001).


Customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.





Different from prejudice, discrimination is the behavior or action (usually negative) against a certain individual or group based on their shared characteristics.


Diversity refers not only to innate diversity (like race, age, gender, etc.), but also behavioral diversity like cultural fluency and cross-functional knowledge.


Treating everyone the same way while assuming that everyone starts out on equal footing with equal opportunities.


Working toward fair outcomes for people or groups by treating them in ways that address their unique barriers.


The tendency to believe that your own ethnic group is centrally important and measure all others using the standards and customs of your own.



Gender expression

How a person chooses to outwardly express their gender, within the context of societal expectations of gender. A person who does not conform to societal expectations of gender may not, however, identify as trans.

Gender identity

Gender identity is personal: it’s how we see and define ourselves.


A person who is sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex. Also referred to as straight.


A strong dislike or fear of homosexual people. See Homosexual.


Refers to a person who is sexually attracted to people of the same sex. Also see Gay, Lesbian, Bi.


Inclusion is the result of welcoming, respecting, supporting, involving, valuing and empowering those around you equally.

In-group bias

The tendency to respond more positively to people from our in-groups than we do to people from our outgroups.

Innate diversity

Innate Diversity is the range of differences in people like gender, age, race, physical ability and sexuality. It also includes differences in the way we think and process information.


Refers to a woman who is attracted to women. NB: some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian.


The acronym for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, questioning (or queer), intersex + other gender variants. This is the most inclusive, all-encompassing term for the gay community, including those with non-cis gender identities.




Microaffirmations are subtle acknowledgments of a person’s importance and accomplishments, which creates a feeling of being valued and a sense of belonging.


Microaggressions are seemingly harmless but impactful everyday slights and exclusions that negatively highlight an individual’s Otherness.


 The policy or practice of giving equal attention or representation to the cultural needs and contributions of all the groups in a society.

Multiracial, mixed heritage, dual heritage, mixed-race, mixed-ethnicity – or simply “mixed”

Terms describing a person who has parentage or ancestors from more than one ethnic and/or racial group. Some people can get confused between interracial and biracial. An individual can be described as biracial if their heritage is mixed; interracial, on the other hand, is used to describe relationships or interactions between individuals from different racial groups.


Neurodiversity describes the spread of neurological differences (learning and developmental difficulties, ADHD and Autism are examples).

Outgroup bias

The tendency to view people from outside our own group as less similar and, as a result, have negative biases against them.


Refers to the (conscious or unconscious, positive or negative) attitudes and feelings one has towards an individual or group of individuals based on certain traits.


One or a set of unearned benefits given to people owing to their membership in a specific social group relating to aspects of their identity. Those aspects can include race, gender, sexual orientation, ability and religion, as well as privilege related to wealth and class.





Term used to refer to people or culture of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. A term once perceived as derogatory is now embraced by some members of the LGBTQ community.


A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the political needs of a society at a given period of time. 

Racial and Ethnic Identity

An individual’s awareness and experience of being a member of a racial and ethnic group; the racial and the ethnic categories that an individual chooses to describe him or herself based on such factors as biological heritage, physical appearance, cultural affiliation, early socialization, and personal experience. 

Racial Equity

The condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer influenced how one fares. Racial equity is one part of racial justice and must be addressed at the root causes and not just the manifestations. This includes the elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.


Individual and institutional practices and policies based on the belief that a particular race is superior to others. This often results in depriving certain individuals and groups of civil liberties, rights, and other resources, hindering opportunities for social, educational, and political advancement.


The individual, cultural and institutional beliefs and discrimination that systematically oppress non-Christians, which includes Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Reverse Discrimination

Unfair treatment of members of a dominant or majority group. 

Safe Space

A space in which an individual or group may remain free of blame, ridicule and persecution, and are in no danger of coming to mental or physical harm. 

Sexual Orientation

The direction of one’s sexual attraction toward the same gender, opposite gender, or other genders. It is on a continuum and not necessarily a set of absolute categories.

Social Justice 

A vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole


A positive or negative set of beliefs held by an individual about the characteristics of a certain group





Acceptance and open-mindedness to different practices, attitudes, and cultures; does not necessarily mean agreement with the differences. 


An individual whose gender identity differs from the societal expectations of their physical sex. Transgender or “trans” does not imply any form of sexual orientation. Cisgender is a gender identity where an individual’s self-perception of their gender matches their sex. For example, a cisgendered female is a female with a female identity.


The steps a trans person takes to live in the gender with which they identify. For some it could involve medical intervention, such as hormone therapy and surgeries, but not all trans people want or are able to have this.


The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including the denial/refusal to accept their gender identity.


This was used in the past as a more medical term (similarly to homosexual) to refer to someone whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.

Unconscious Bias

The subliminal tendency to favor certain people or groups of people based upon learned stereotypes. It can be interchangeable with the term implicit bias.

Underrepresented Groups (URG)

A group that is less represented in one subset (e.g., employees in a particular sector, such as IT) than in the general population. This can refer to gender, race/ethnicity, physical or mental ability, LGBTQ+ status, and many more. The term also refers to populations who are not represented in STEM professions in proportions equal to White STEM workers. (IGI Global) Replaces the term Underrepresented Minorities (URM), as minority groups will soon be the majority in the U.S. Underrepresented Groups is inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals as well as Veterans and People with Disabilities.

White Privilege

Refers to the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are White. White people who experience such privilege may or may not be conscious of it.

Workplace inclusion

An atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute and can thrive. It requires deliberate and intentional action.


Dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.



Diversity and Inclusion Glossary. (2020). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from

Your a-z d & i glossary. (2021, April 09). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from