Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Definitions

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee has identified definitions relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This glossary of terms serves as a starting point for communication and learning.

Diversity refers to all the various ways we are different from one other. We generally think of race, sexual orientation, gender, and/or ableism when we mention diversity. This tendency limits our thinking to other differences like age; religion; mental, emotional, and/or physical well-being; neurodiversities; political beliefs or party affiliations; perceptions; marital statuses; socioeconomic, cultural or ethnic backgrounds; genetic information; physical appearance; learning styles and preferences; veteran status; or other personal affinities, like preference for a specific university.
Diversity recognizes that people have different facets to their identities. Understanding diversity causes us to have an awareness of what in-groups we form and how those groups influence our perceptions and impact our behavior, guarding potentially to the point where confirmation bias can create ignorance, and can help us be cognizant of and avoid harmful stereotyping.
Diversity provides an opportunity to learn from and appreciate one another's differences. A diverse group, community, or organization has more perspectives, enabling it to better succeed and grow. Respecting diversity creates a culture of appreciation for all people.

Equity is the provision of resources and supports for people so they can achieve shared and individual goals in order to succeed. The practice of equity acknowledges that different people need varied resources and support.
The goal of equity work is getting to social equality by enacting justice and fairness with others in decision making and personal interaction. Equity is not always the same as equality. Equality recognizes all people are of equal worth and value while equity recognizes that people do not always have access to equal resources or opportunities. Equality, in this sense, is an ideal; it is a concept that might not be attainable, but equity allows us to understand factors which prevent it and identify fair practices to work towards it. Equity asks us to put others’ needs first and foremost and to be mindful to create situations that create a comfortable and nurturing environment for all, no matter their differences.

Inclusion is ensuring everyone feels welcomed, valued, and a part of the community and culture. The goal of inclusion is creating a culture that respects, accepts, and fairly treats everyone. Understanding inclusion causes us to see that it does not just happen; we need to actively pursue it.
Inclusion is the first step to people’s feelings of being “home” and “safe” and, thus, allows them the security to begin to self-actualize. Inclusion harnesses our recognition of different value systems and ideals; apply our active listening skills; and practice understanding, flexibility, open-mindedness, and patience.
Inclusion asks us to reflect upon whether we are procuring and allocating appropriate resources for the appropriate individuals at the appropriate times. Inclusion asks us to evaluate whether we are creating a welcoming atmosphere from the students’ first entrance at our front door to the purple-bedecked Commencement stage.