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DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inculsion)

DEI Terminology

Accessibility: The "ability to access" the functionality of a system or entity, and gain the related benefits. The degree to which a product, service, or environment is accessible by as many people as possible.

Accommodation: A change in the environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to have equal opportunity, access and participation.

Ally: A person who is not a member of a marginalized or disadvantaged group but who expresses or gives support to that group.

Bias: Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in an unfair or negative way. Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, is defined as “attitudes and stereotypes that influence judgment, decision-making, and behavior in ways that are outside of conscious awareness and/or control”

Disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment (from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

Gender Nonconforming or Gender Non-binary: A way of identifying and/or expressing oneself outside the binary gender categories of male/masculine and female/feminine.

Latinx: Used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina to describe a person of Latin American origin or descent.

LGBTQ: An abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer

Microaggression: A comment or action that unconsciously or unintentionally expresses or reveals a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group, such as a racial minority. Examples of Racial Microaggression. Examples in the classroom.

Microaffirmation: A microaffirmation is a small gesture of inclusion, caring or kindness. They include listening, providing comfort and support, being an ally and explicitly valuing the contributions and presence of all. It is particularly helpful for those with greater power or seniority to “model” affirming behavior. Examples of Microaffirmation

Neurodiversity: When neurological differences are recognized and respected as are any other kind of human differences or variations. These differences can include Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, and Tourette Syndrome.

Privilege: An unearned, sustained advantage that comes from race, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, age, and other differences. For example, readers are invited to “unpack” white and male privilege in these papers by Wellesley College’s Peggy McIntosh.

Racism: A belief that racial differences produce or are associated with inherent superiority or inferiority. Racially-based prejudice, discrimination, hostility or hatred. Institutionalized racism, also known as systemic racism, refers to forms of racism that are engrained in society or organizations. It is when entire racial groups are discriminated against, or consistently disadvantaged, by larger social systems, practices, choices or policies.

White Fragility: Coined by Robin D’Angelo in this article, it is used to describe the privilege that accrues to white people living in a society that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. D’Angelo argues that this builds an expectation of always feeling comfortable and safe, which in turn lowers the ability to tolerate racial stress and triggers a range of defensive reactions.


The resource is from Glossary of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Terms of Harvard Human Resources.