Efforts and practices related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are key to a modern, socially conscious organization. These three concepts are related, but distinct, and each explains a different aspect of the movement. Conversations about DEI are part of the ways our workplaces, academic institutions, and other organizations are evolving in light of some monumental changes. 

Although important, these concepts are so broad and involve so many elements that they can be difficult to accurately define. But to put them in general, broad terms: 

Diversity is about welcoming in people from a variety of backgrounds and identities

Equity is about giving everyone equal resources and opportunity 

Inclusion is about actively involving people and inviting their perspectives and contributions 


Practices that build diversity are aimed at inviting and involving a variety of people from all kinds of race, culture, religion, age, ability, and gender and sexual identity. Building diversity means building self-awareness, empathy, and understanding to reduce discrimination, bias, and prejudice.


Building diversity is an important concept and a powerful first step, but some practices only project an image of diversity at the service lever. So new concepts have come into the conversation in the last few years: equity and inclusion. Building equity involves actually ensuring everyone has equal footing, ensuring equal treatment, equal access and opportunity. Practices to build equity may be things like installing reasonable accommodations for someone with a disability or informing people of pronoun preferences. It can often mean looking at systems and structures and identifying the people they have advantages and disadvantages. 


Building inclusion is about making sure not just that an organization is diverse, and everyone has opportunity, but also that their contributions and perspectives are sought out and valued. Inclusion means actively welcoming people, putting different kinds of people with different backgrounds in key roles, and giving them the tools and access to realize their talents. Inclusion-building can also mean having a greater degree of collaboration, being more flexible with certain expectations, and keeping an open mind. 


Recently in DEI conversations, the word Belonging has gained popularity. The idea of belonging in this context is a culture that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, and implements those values in ways where people feel like, well, that they truly belong. Belonging is a synthesis of DEI and engagement, and cultivating a genuine sense of belonging is a powerful and valuable goal for any organization, a fact which our current workplace is beginning to truly realize. Consider cultural competency training for enhanced inclusion education in the workplace.