Inclusive Language

Talking about diversity and inclusion is easier when people are using the same words with a shared understanding of their meanings. We've collected several terms and definitions below to explain the way we're using these words on this website. We hope that they can provide a starting point for shared language across campus.

Terms & definitions

Ally: A person who associates or cooperates with another. A supporter of another person, idea, initiative or community.

Authenticity: The assurance that one can interact with others safely and comfortably in a manner that reflects one's spirit, character and sense of individuality, without fear of exclusion, judgment or criticism.

Bias: The predisposition to see people and situations in a positive or negative way. The inclination to a certain viewpoint; in particular, a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment or belief.

Cultural competency: Having the capacity to function effectively in cross-cultural situations within the context of language, communication style, customs, beliefs and values held by various racial, ethnic, religious or social groups.

Disability: A known physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual's major life activities. For legal definitions of disability, see the University's Office of Disability Services website and Human Resources policy regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Diversity: The variety of similarities and differences among people in an organization in terms of age, cultural background and viewpoints, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, personal or professional background, beliefs, personal interests and other characteristics.

Equity: The quality of being fair or impartial. To provide equal access to a group or organization, and to promote equal opportunities within a group or organization.

Heterogeneity: The state of being composed of different parts. Cultural, social, biological, ideological or other differences within a group.

Identity: The distinguishing characteristics, personality, associations, affiliations or interests of an individual. 

Inclusion: The act of making every individual feel welcomed, valued and respected within a group, community or organization.

International: Pertaining to two or more nations or their citizens. Reflecting perspectives of different nations and cultures. One who works or studies in a foreign country or countries.

Pluralism (pluralistic): The coexistence and tolerance of various racial, religious, ethnic or cultural groups in a society or organization.

Unconscious bias: Culturally based attitudes and split-second judgments that influence our perception of others, which primarily occur without our awareness or recognition.

Underrepresented: Groups of people who are insufficiently represented or represented in disproportionately low numbers within a group, organization or community.