Definitions of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
During their February 14, 2020 meeting, Worcester State University’s Campus Climate Committee endorsed the following definitions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for campus wide usage. These definitions were shared with the Strategic Planning Committee and workgroups in February 2020 in order to incorporate them into the development of Worcester State’s Strategic Plan.
Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, sex, and gender, we embrace a broader definition of diversity that also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, first-generation status, education, marital status, veteran status, language, and physical appearance. Our definition also includes diversity of thought: ideas, perspectives, and values. We also recognize that individuals affiliate with multiple identities.
Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement of all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It is important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or ‘implicit bias’ helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity.
Definitions were adapted from the definitions used by the Independent Sector, a national membership organization that brings together the charitable community—a diverse set of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations—to advance the common good.