DEI Glossary

Understanding the language of diversity, equity, and inclusion, is one of the most important steps in building your foundation as someone who champions, lives, and practices the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion–personally and professionally.

Ability Possession of the means or skill to do something; talent, skill, or proficiency in a particular area.
Accessibility The quality of being able to be reached or entered, obtained or used, easily understood or appreciated.
Accountability The fact or condition of being accountable (of a person, organization, or institution) required or expected to justify actions or decisions); responsibility.
African American An ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa.
Asexual Describes a person who lacks sexual attraction or desire for other people.
Asian Relating to Asia or its people, customs, or languages.
Belonging Be a member or part of (a particular group, organization, or class).
Bias Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually considered to be unfair.
BIPOC An acronym meaning “Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Color”, specific to the United States, intended to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous groups and demonstrate solidarity between communities of color.
Bisexual An adjective that describes a person who has the potential to be physically, romantically, and/or emotionally attracted to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree.
Black A member of a dark-skinned people, especially one of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry.
Disability A physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.
Diversity The state of being diverse; variety.
Equity The quality of being fair and impartial; the absence of unfair, avoidable, remediable differences among groups of people.
Ethnicity The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.
Explicit Bias Traditional conceptualization of bias; individuals are aware of their prejudices and attitudes toward certain groups.
Gay An adjective that describes a person whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex.
Gender Broadly denotes a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.
Gender Fluid Describes a person whose gender identity or expression changes over time.
Genderqueer Describes a person who does not follow static categories of gender, embracing a fluidity of gender identity, and oftentimes, sexual orientations.
Gender Non-conforming Describes a person who does not abide by traditional or cultural expectations—in regards to appearance or behavior—of their gender.
Health Disparities Preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.
Health Literacy The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions.
Heteronormative Denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.
Heterosexual An adjective that describes a person whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to people of a sex different from their own.
Hispanic A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
Implicit Bias When we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without or conscious knowledge.
Inclusion The practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.
Indigenous Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.
Institutional Racism Occurs within institutions and systems of power – refers to the unfair policies and discriminatory practices of particular institutions (schools, workplaces, etc.) that routinely produce racially inequitable outcomes for people of color and advantages for white people; individuals take on the power of the institution when they reinforce inequities.
Internalized Racism Lies within individuals; comprises our private beliefs and biases about race and racism, influenced by our culture (can take on different forms, including: prejudice towards others of a different race; negative beliefs about oneself by people of color).
Interpersonal Racism Occurs between individuals – bias that occurs when individuals interact with others and their personal racial beliefs affect their public interactions.
Intersex Describes a person who is born with differences in their sex traits or reproductive anatomy that don’t fit typical definitions of female or male (e.g., chromosomes, hormones, internal sex organs, genitalia, or secondary sex characteristics).
Justice Just behavior or treatment; based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.
Latinx A person of Latin American origin or descent; the gender neutral -x suffix replaces the -o/-a ending of Latino and Latina.
Lesbian A woman who is physically, emotionally, or romantically attracted to other women.
LGBTQIA+ An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual with the plus indicating another identification not included in the acronym.
Marginalized Of a person, group, or concept, treated as insignificant or peripheral.
Microaggressions Everyday, subtle, intentional – and oftentimes unintentional – interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.
Nonbinary An adjective that describes people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the binary categories of man and woman.
Person or People of Color (POC) A person who is not white.
Power The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
Privilege A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
Queer An adjective that describes some people whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual or straight.
Questioning Describes a person who is exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Race A socio-political construct; categorizations of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into groups generally viewed as distinct within a given society.
Racism The belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.
Re-traumatization Any situation or environment that resembles an individual’s trauma literally or symbolically, which then triggers difficult feelings and reactions associated with the original trauma.
Structural Racism Racial bias among institutions and across society that involves the cumulative and compounding effects of an array of societal factors, including the history, culture, ideology, and interactions of institutions and policies that systematically privilege white people and disadvantage people of color.
Sex Either male and female into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions at birth.
Sexual Orientation Scientifically accurate term for a person’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to another person, including: heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, and other orientations.
SOGIESC Acronym for sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and sex characteristics, more commonly used in countries outside the United States.
Transgender An adjective that describes people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
Trauma An emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster.
Trigger Cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.
Underrepresented Provide with insufficient or inadequate representation.
URM An acronym used to refer to “underrepresented minorities” in science or research (primarily based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender, primary language, and/or disability).

Source: Dictionary by Merriam-Webster, Oxford English Dictionary, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Healthy People 2020, and GLAAD