Diversity defined

Diversity and discrimination in the workplace may seem like an “over-production” when it comes to discussions about fairness in employment. 

Every week it seems, someone at work, on the bus, in the grocery stores or at community events was always bringing up the economy.  Eventually, the conversation would end with a topic addressing some form of Workplace Discrimination:  Racism, Sexism or Wage Retaliation. 

Because of the interest in changing the current state of affairs in our community, I’ve decided to explain some definitions related to diversity. 

All of these definitions are not the total definitive end of what the topics should include, but they are just explained in context to conversations around the topic of diversity.


Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and / or emotional ability; usually that of able-bodied / like-minded persons against people with illnesses, disabilities or differently developed skills / talents


The extent to which a facility is readily approachable and usable by individuals with disabilities, particularly such areas as the personnel office, worksite and public areas


The process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group; the cultural modifications of an individual or group by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture; a merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact; e.g. those who live in the United States near the border of Mexico often use “tomorrow” and “manana,” as well as many other words and phrases from English and Spanish, interchangeably


The process of adapting or adjusting to the culture of a group or nation; the process by which a person or persons acquire the social and psychological characteristics of a group; e.g. “Waves of immigrants have been assimilated into the North American culture


Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared with another, usually in a way considered unfair


A strategy for improving race relations by not noticing color, which unfortunately comes across as counterproductive to the improvement of U.S. race relations, due to the following: (1) it is impossible to not notice color, (2) this strategy discourages meaningful dialogue about race, (3) it encourages people to ignore, deny or disregard inequalities involving race, (4) thereby unwittingly supporting the status quo, wherein racial inequities are commonplace


Learned patterns of perception, values, and behavior shared by a group of people, that are dynamic and heterogeneous; involves emotions, feelings and a sense of belonging


Refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures; the state of having and applying knowledge and skill in four areas: (1) the awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, (2) the realization that there are different cultural practices and worldviews, (3) the recognition of one’s attitude towards cultural differences, and (4) thoughtfulness and skill in cross-cultural interactions


An expectant feeling or inclination based on personal experiences, family history, ancestry and community memory in concert with the collective, cultural, economic, educational, political, social and spiritual environments


Behavior that results from stereotyping and prejudice; over actions to exclude, avoid or distance oneself from other groups; may be based on racism or any other “ism” related to belonging to a cultural group

The sum of the ways people are both alike and different; dimensions of diversity include, while not itself a value-laden term, reactions to diversity are driven by values, beliefs and attitudes, etc.; the full acceptance of diversity as helpful, positive and desirable is a major principle of social justice


If Diversity is “The Mix” then inclusion is “Making the Mix Work;” Diversity may be seen to be the composition of individuals in a group.; Inclusion may be seen to include the requisite programs and organizational strategies which welcome and embrace the strengths each person brings to the group


Principles of conduct that help govern the behavior of individuals and groups; often arise from communities’ views on what is good and bad behavior; cultural values tell us what “good” and “bad” ought to be


Belief that one’s own cultural group is superior to all other cultural groups; usually equated with nationality


Involves acknowledging diversity, recognizing and celebrating our differences and eliminating the barriers that prevent the full participation of all peoples; improving equity is to promote justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes and distribution of resources by institutions or systems; tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the underlying or root causes of outcome disparities within our society


The psychic costs of internalized racial oppression defined as the individual being indoctrinated by racial stereotypes, values, images and ideologies perpetuated by the dominant society about one’s racial group; this leads to feelings of self-doubt, disgust and disrespect for one’s race and/or oneself; this emphasis on an individual’s psychological wounds is evident in a legacy of personal, often anecdotal, struggles with internalized racial inferiority


Excluded; ignored; relegated to the outer edge of a group, society, community


The idea that after people enter the United States, they will eventually “blend into American society” by virtue of time and socialization until they will eventually become blended or undifferentiated from any other person in this country; this theory or metaphor does not consider immigrants can be assimilated into the U.S. the same way; additionally, this theory “metaphorically” may erase the importance, validity and necessity of the cultural identities of entire populations


A form of unintended discrimination; depicted by the use of known social norms of behavior and/or expressions, that while may be without conscious knowledge of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination; racial microaggressions are generally brief, daily or commonplace indignities resulting from verbal, behavioral or environmental assaults due to ignorance and unconscious bias; whether intentional or unintentional, these words or actions communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color


Refers to a minority ethnic, racial or religious group whose members achieve a higher degree of success or social status than the population average; this success is typically measured in income, education and related factors such as low crime rate and high family stability


The quality of having multiple, simultaneous social identities (e.g. being male and Buddhist and working class)


Individuals with more than one racial heritage; individuals whose parents have more than one race in their genetic histories


Individuals with more than one ethnic heritage; individuals whose parents have more than one ethnicity in their genetic histories


To articulate a thought, which traditionally has not been discussed


The country or place from which an individual hails; may or may ot be the same as that person’s current location or place of citizenship; associated with a place of political origin


A government or societal system in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from power and decision making


A collective term for men and women of Asian, African, Latin and Native American backgrounds; as opposed to the collective “White” for those of European ancestry


How we view and define ourselves as individuals; those characteristics we ascribe to for ourselves, family history, cultural history, personality, talent, occupation and any other attribute that makes us unique and different from other individuals


A negative attitude toward a cultural group based on little or no experience; a pre-judgment


“As a social concept, a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics;” science has long proven that there is only one human race; the social concept is the only viable instrument of racism, using physical characteristics to favor some people over others; in 1950, the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that “race” is not a biological reality, but a myth; this was a summary of the findings of an international panel of anthropologists, geneticists, sociologists and psychologists


Refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin; criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by the police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime; examples of racial profiling are the use of race to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations (commonly referred to as “driving while black or brown” or the use of race to determine which pedestrians to search for illegal contraband; another example of racial profiling is the targeting, ongoing since the September 11th attack, of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians for detention on minor immigrant violations in the absence of any connection to the attacks on the World Trade Center or the Pentagon


Discriminatory actions, including poor treatment, exclusion or violence by those in power against one or more races based on ignorance, hatred and the false belief that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of one or more races over others; the beliefs and attitudes that are supportive of these discriminatory actions


A cognitive process for protecting stereotypes by explaining any evidence/example to the contrary as an isolated exception; exception-making


Refers to an environment in which everyone feels comfortable in expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule or denial of experience;


The conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation, of particular social identities, is excluded or inhibited


Involves the ways in which one characterizes oneself in relation to others; the affinities one has with other people; the ways one has learned to behave in stereotypical social settings; the things one values in oneself in connection with the world; the norms one recognizes or accepts governing everyday behavior


Having the knowledge and understanding of one’s own personality, character or culture; understanding and being present with one’s own attitudes, beliefs, worldview and sense of purpose; sometimes begins as a journey into another culture and reality and ends as a journey into one’s own culture and reality


Having an image or reflection of one’s own self; the process by which we “look in the mirror” to see ourselves


A widely held belief or generalization about a group of people; a way of categorizing based on generalized assumptions (n); a simplified or standardized concept or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group (n); to give a fixed form to (v); to characterize or regard in a fixed way (v)


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


A prejudice we have or an assumption that we make about another person based on common cultural stereotypes, rather than on a thoughtful judgment; also known as “implicit social cognition;” “implicit bias” refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious way


A term used to refer to the societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political or economic circumstances; according to McIntosh and Lee, whites in a society considered culturally a part of the Western World, enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience; this is an “unearned” privilege that leads to the controversy over whether or not White people should be able to enjoy these privileges; the term denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white persons may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice; these include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth, presumed greater social status and the freedom to move, buy, work, play and speak freely; the effects can be seen in professional, educational and personal contexts; the concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional, while perceiving oneself as normal


The perspective through which individuals view the world; comprised of their history, experiences, culture, family history and other influences

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