Important DEI

SIIA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Terms

A fair workplace and accepting culture starts with understanding. The best way to understand is to have an agreed language. SIIA’s DEI Committee has worked to define these terms so people can understand the unique challenges and begin to build a more equitable environment for all. 

Diversity– Characteristics highlighting a wide range of differences in people, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.

Equity – Recognizing a person’s right to fairness, their right to be valued as others regardless of any perceived difference. Equity involves being fair or impartial and evening the playing field for all.

Inclusion – Provides equal access to opportunities and resources for anyone who might otherwise be excluded, marginalized or not be considered equally.

(Defined terms in alphabetical order)

Accessibility: a general term for the degree of ease that something (e.g., device, service, physical environment and information) can be accessed, used and enjoyed by persons with disabilities. The term implies conscious planning, design and/or effort to make sure something is barrier-free to persons with disabilities. Accessibility also benefits the general population, by making things more usable and practical for everyone, including older people and families with small children.

Ageism: discrimination based on age.

Ally: someone who speaks on behalf of others in need or distress until they are empowered to speak for themselves.

Ableism: prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in physical, mental and/or emotional ability; usually that of able‐bodied/minded persons against people with illness, disabilities or less developed skills.

Anti-RacismAn effort through ideas and actions to counter prejudice, systemic racism, and the oppression of specific groups. This conscious effort and deliberate actions are to provide equal opportunities for all people.

Bias (prejudice) Innate or learned preference or prejudice against a person, a group or an idea. Most often biases are unfair showing a favoritism based on characteristics or qualities rather than skill or merit. 

Color Blind: the belief in treating everyone “equally” by treating everyone the same; based on the presumption that differences are, by definition, bad or problematic and therefore best ignored (i.e., “I don’t see race, gender, etc.”).

Class/Classism: prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in socio‐economic status, income, class; usually by upper classes against lower classes.

Cultural Appropriation: The non-consensual/misappropriate use of cultural elements for commodification or profit purposes – including symbols, art, language, customs, etc. – often without understanding, acknowledgment or respect for its value in the context of its original culture. 

Discrimination: The unequal treatment of members of various groups, based on conscious or unconscious prejudice, which favors one group over others on differences of race, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, language, age, national identity, religion and other categories.

Equality: The sameness, equivalence or likeness in quantity or measure. Social equality affords everyone equal rights, freedoms and recognition creating equal access and opportunities.

Ethnicity: Recognition of belonging to a “group” that has a shared national or cultural baseline. An ethnic group or ethnicity also identifies as part of that shared group (like culture, nationality or race) that differentiates them from other groups.

Gaslighting: When a boss or fellow employee manipulates you to the point you question your sanity, memory, or perceptions. The gaslighter can do this by denying past events, downplaying emotions, or retelling events so you take the blame. A classic abuse of power. A form of bullying. A manipulative power game individuals or groups of individuals play in the workplace to gain control of an individual or of a situation.

Gender Pronouns: Words people use to refer to others when not referring to them by name. Common pronouns are he, she, and they (and their derivatives); Others include co, en, ey, xie, yo, ze, and ve (and their derivatives). 

Homophobia: Homophobia is a colloquial expression that refers to negative, fearful, or hateful attitudes and behavior toward gays and lesbians. The term is a misnomer in that it implies an irrational fear of homosexuals similar to the panic of claustrophobia. Homophobia is a form of cultural prejudice rather than a manifestation of an individual phobia.

Implicit Bias (Hidden or Unconscious Bias): Learned stereotypes against a certain group, race or person based on preconceived ideas about them rather than based on fact or experience. In the workplace, implicit or unconscious bias happens when one person can sway the opinions of others affecting the behavior or actions of the entire team, usually to its detriment. 

Imposter Syndrome: When people believe they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are generally held. They feel as if they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others think and that people will eventually find out

Inclusive Language: The recognition that words matter and that word choice can be used, intentionally or unintentionally, to include or exclude others. Using inclusive language communicates with people in a way that is respectful and brings everyone to the conversation. 

LGBTQ+/LGBTQIA+: An inclusive term for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual.

Marginalization: Also referred to as social exclusion, occurs when certain groups of people get denied access to areas of society. Many factors can lead to this denial of access to institutions and opportunities, including historical bias and lack of funding. Marginalized people don’t necessarily belong to one particular demographic: Marginalization occurs due to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, socioeconomic level, and age. Marginalized groups are often at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining health care, decent education, and employment that would improve their well-being.

Microaggression: Commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups.

Non-binary/Cisgender: Nonbinary is the word used to describe someone whose gender identity isn’t exclusively woman or man. Cisgender is the word used to describe people whose gender identity corresponds with the one they had or were identified as having at birth. 

Psychological safety: Psychological safety exists when people feel their team is a place where they can speak up, offer ideas, and ask questions without fear of being punished or embarrassed.

Prejudice:  Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason; any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable; unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group. 

Representation: Defined as how media texts deal with and present gender, age, ethnicity, national and regional identity, social issues and events to an audience. Media texts have the power to shape an audience’s knowledge and understanding about these important topics. This makes them very powerful in terms of influencing ideas and attitudes.

Safe Space: A place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.

Sexism: Sexism is a type of prejudice or discrimination based on beliefs about a person’s sex or gender.

Structural Inequality: Systemic disadvantage(s) of one social group compared to other groups, rooted and perpetuated through discriminatory practices (conscious or unconscious) that are reinforced through institutions, ideologies, representations, policies/laws and practices. When this kind of inequality is related to racial/ethnic discrimination, it is referred to as systemic or structural racism. 

Systemic Racism Practices: attitudes and or laws designed to prevent equality, limit opportunities or be punitive because of the characteristics of that group. Over time racist beliefs and attitudes have prevented equality in education, housing and economic development. In the workplace, systematic racism has kept otherwise competent workers from receiving new professional opportunities and compensation.

White Privilege/Privilege: Economic opportunities, preferential treatment, any advantages offered a white or Caucasian person over a non-white person. White privilege benefits white people because of their race, not their qualifications or other measurable qualities.

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