Employer Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit

The Career Equity, Development, and Success Center is committed to furthering inclusion in your workplace. As one of our employer partners, our center is pleased to support or help further develop your company’s equitable practices.

The following toolkit includes resources about best practices when recruiting diverse talent. Our center acknowledges that every employer’s growth may look different. This page is only presented as a resource and reference.

If you have ideas or suggestions on how to expand this toolkit or if you are interested in discussing your company’s equitable practices, please contact our office.

Diversify your Company with Global Talent

Suffolk University is home to students from more than 90 countries/regions, representing about 15% of our entire student population. These dedicated international students are entrepreneurial, innovative and culturally competent, with high levels of maturity, adaptability, and dedication.

Learn more by reviewing our international hiring resource guide

Employer Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Toolkit

Imagine the satisfaction that comes from running a profitable business. Imagine also that the profit comes as a result of having a diverse workforce. Well imagine no more, in a widely publicized report by McKinsey, organizations that are diverse are 35% more likely to outperform organizations that are not diverse. We believe that having people with different abilities and talents is not only profitable, it also allows for an equitable culture and society. It allows for positive representation and development of an economy. Hence, it is important that employees bring value to a company not just fit into the workplace culture. At the Center for Career Equity, Development, and Success we believe in the culture of value-add not of culture-fit. We believe that our students add value to the organization which is a benefit to all. An organization that seeks to have a diverse workforce will also greatly benefit by having a workplace that promotes inclusivity.

Why does diversity, equity, and inclusion matter?

Every job is a need. You provide services to people based on their needs and you need people to service your clients or consumers. You value your products and need people who value your mission and vision to succeed. Hence, it makes sense that the people who work in your organization feel like they are a part of it. You need a diverse workforce.

Why does it matter to us and Suffolk Seekers?

The research is clear, companies that create and retain a diverse workforce are more successful. At the same time, there are too many stories and studies that illustrate people with marginalized identities feeling excluded, unwelcome, or outright terrorized in the workplace. This leads to disengagement which ultimately could lead to turnover. Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability and the cost of turnover ranges from 10-30% of EACH lost employee’s annual salary. These are facts that organizations cannot ignore if they want to succeed and excel in their mission and goals.

While we know diversity efforts can help organizations with profits, retention, and culture, there are still roadblocks organizations face to support a diverse workforce well. This article in Forbes talks about strategies to overcome those challenges and one of the first steps is aligning their organizational diversity practices with their organizational goals. We recognize that each organization is at a different place in their journey, but we hope that this toolkit provides a starting point for employers to begin (or expand) designing and implementing inclusive recruitment and retention practices.

There’s a lot of resources that describe a variety of best practices when it comes to recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent. Below are just a few helpful resources along with examples of companies that are doing it well.

Top companies exemplifying diversity and inclusion

Look to see which companies are being recognized for doing this work well to identify places your own organization can benchmark off.

A great first step organizations can take to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts is to complete an organizational assessment. Most people do not self-identify as racist, sexist, xenophobic, ageist or ableist, but there is a consistent presence of biased preferences towards whiteness and masculinity in corporate America. The presence of bias is engrained in our beings and while we may not be able to avoid it scientifically, we can work to disrupt it. The assessment and findings will differ greatly amongst organizations due to size, personnel, clientele, workers, etc. E.g., if the organization has a racial make-up that is 99 percent female the assessment result and need for DEI may be different if the organization is 50 percent racially diverse.

These assessment tools allow for organizations to examine their current status and then strategize for how to improve in the future. There are free and paid tools available online and in person. Options of each will be referenced below.

Preparation: For organizational change to occur, organizations first need to be in the right mindset. Successful organizations are aware that:

  • Change is a process
  • Progress occurs in stages
  • Change is not linear – often organizations will move in a variety of directions while working through the process of change
  • Organizations must assess their current inclusion stage and preparedness for change
  • What you learn may be surprising and unexpected, but you must be prepared to respond and act on the feedback received to maintain trust of employees

Assessing the organization’s current stage is best served when teams work to capture the following:

  • A survey of as many employees as possible
  • Interviews with key informants (leadership, management, and stakeholders) which sometimes include outside constituents who can give you an external perception of your organization or what it is like to work with you. Change is ineffective without the buy-in of key stakeholders.
  • Focus groups with members of various departments and units within the organization
  • Intentionally capturing the voices of employees across historically marginalized intersections of identity

Stages of Inclusion (originally sourced from DTUI.com): Many assessments will provide a categorization of where an organization is after they complete their assessment. Having this organizational awareness AND accepting it allows the group to begin to plan for actual change and identify areas of growth.

The following is a sample of different stages of inclusion an organizational assessment could expose related to intercultural competencies. Read prior to completing an organizational assessment and see if you can self-assess where your group could be. Don’t be surprised, however, if your initial reaction places your group at a higher stage than the assessment indicates. It is often common to have a view of your organization as being further advanced than it might actually be. That will inform the work that needs to be done.

  1. Conventional (Stage 1): The primary view of an organization in this stage is that only those who fit into the traditional norms and values will succeed.
  2. Defensive (Stage 2): The leadership understands that the organization must work to make others feel included but continue to resist changing the culture.
  3. Ambivalent (Stage 3): The Ambivalent stage is present when historically excluded group members represent 15% to 25% of the institution’s population and diversity best practices are being put into place to include them.
  4. Egalitarian (Stage 4): Cultural differences are embraced yet there is resistance against putting efforts into make further changes to create a level playing field.
  5. Integrative (Stage 5): The high performing organization actively includes and utilizes the wide range of skills and perspectives of its identity groups. There is fairness and equity in the organization that promotes diversity with little effort.

Free Offerings for Organizational Assessments

Here are several offerings related to where you can begin to assess your organization. Brief descriptions and sources are also listed.

  • National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 2013
    A self-assessment tool that helps you identify goals, track milestones, and self-construct a plan to achieve goals. Organization should already have some context related to goals and be able to motivate themselves enough to create internal change. This tool is brief and not as comprehensive.
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2017
    While this assessment focuses on how to create an inclusive workplace for employers with an emphasis on mental health, the organizational assessment found on page 14 is still a comprehensive tool. Organizations would need to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, current policies, and have a representative group of people to share input on status. The tool is lengthy but open ended.
  • D5 DEI Self-Assessment
    D5’s self-assessment is a tool for identifying areas of work that your foundation is already engaged in and opportunities for growth. This assessment will capture your foundation’s current situation, spark conversations about DEI and what is possible, and help identify tangible action steps that will improve your foundation’s effectiveness and strengthen its relevance in our increasingly diverse society. This assessment focuses on underrepresented identity populations that you may or may not be serving in your organization.

Paid Offerings

Below are some paid options to consider if your organization is looking for more comprehensive results and help crafting an action plan.

Boston Area Diversity Consultants
  • Diversity @ Workplace Consultants
    Diversity @ Workplace focuses on all aspects of talent – recruiting, learning and development, succession planning, performance management, and associate engagement – to the Diversity & Inclusion work in your organization for a holistic talent strategy, goal setting, and programming. Clients include pharma, finance (banking institutions and accounting firms), academia (colleges and universities), tech, law, sports, and nonprofit. Su Joun Principal.
  • IBIS Consulting Group
    The IBIS Consulting Group offers a wide range of creative options for advancing Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and mitigating Unconscious Bias. Since 1987, IBIS has used a collaborative, results-oriented approach to guide hundreds of organizations through successful workplace diversity initiatives, improving individual and organizational performance by leveraging the potential of D&I. A recognized leader in the field of D&I consulting, assessments, and trainings, IBIS has clients in all sectors and sizes, from Fortune 100 companies to innovative start-ups to university systems. IBIS is certified as a woman and minority owned business.
  • The Partnership, Inc.
    The Partnership, Inc. has been helping organizations build racially and ethnically diverse talent pipelines for 30+ years. Based in Boston, they provide consulting services and customized resources to improve organizational performance and build top multicultural talent pipelines from entry-level to C-suite executives.
National Resources
  • Team Dynamics ©
    Team Dynamics is a People of Color, Woman, and LGBTQ+-Owned company focused on helping leaders and workplaces live up to their potential through intentional and meaningful culture change. Their work is centered on racial equity leadership development. They offer a number of services for a strategic approach to culture change and have free resources available to get you started.
  • Globesmart® Inclusive Behaviors InventorySM (IBI)
    Designed with a global lens on inclusion, the IBI offers a seamless roll out to employees at all levels, across the globe. Translated into 7 languages with concepts that are easy to grasp, learners will quickly begin modeling inclusive behaviors at work.

These are just a sampling of a few of the assessment tools and consultants that exist to help your organization evaluate your current diversity, equity, and inclusion processes. There are many other resources available as well that may work better for your organization. Regardless of the tool you choose to use, know that assessing where your organization is currently will help you set a solid foundation in being able to move forward and make improvements.

If you would like to have a conversation with a member of the Career Equity, Development, and Success team about where the best place would be for your organization to get started, please contact Michelle Goldberg, Jenny Joseph-Hayle, or Ade Igbineweka.

There are a lot of resources that describe a variety of best practices when it comes to recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent. Below are just a few helpful tips and resources along with examples of companies that are nationally recognized for their successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts.

Recruitment and Hiring

Diversity recruitment is a top goal for most employers right now, but how can you stand out to diverse talent in your recruitment cycle? It is important to have consistent communication about your organization’s commitment to this work embedded into your brand. Remember, diversity is an ASSET, not just a goal to check off your list. Recruiting diverse talent is a responsibility far beyond the reach of HR. Work strategically with your colleagues across departments, such as leadership, marketing/communications/PR, product management, advancement, community relations, etc.… for innovative and relevant strategies to build a more inclusive and accessible workplace for people of all intersections of identity. Be clear about your goals not only to HIRE diverse talent, but about your intentions of supporting and GROWING diverse talent through pipelines to leadership from the start.

Tips include:

Reimagine job descriptions and applications

  • Take a look at this Sample Job Description with Equity in Mind created by Team Dynamics © and these additional resources through Glassdoor and Indeed.
  • Be aware of the dangerous statistics of preference to “whitened”, heteronormative resumes and cover letters. Find ways to avoid name bias in making decisions on who to interview.

Salary transparency

  • Hiding salaries until the job offer perpetuates the pay gaps that contribute to the cycle of inequity in the workforce, primarily for women and people of color. One simple step you can take, if you are not already, is to list the salary range in the job description and openly communicate it throughout the application process to prepare candidates on whether they’d be able to accept given their life circumstances. According to charthop.com with salary transparency, a company holds itself accountable to its employees.

Value skills over experience

  • People who have a stacked resume directly out of their Undergraduate degree typically have had more access to opportunities that may align with whiteness and masculinity. For example, if a first-generation, low-income student had to work 2 part-time jobs in retail and food service to support themselves and their families through college and did not have the capacity to hold an unpaid internship or take on a leadership role on campus while maintaining their grades and securing income, they should not be considered “underqualified” for an entry-level role. Find creative ways to allow candidates to demonstrate what they CAN do, not only what they have had the opportunity to do in the past.

Paid internships

  • Many organizations use internship programs as a pipeline for full-time talent. Unpaid internships provide an unfair advantage to candidates who have the resources to forgo income for experience. According to a research study funded by NACE the study showed “that students completing an unpaid internship the year before graduation were more likely to be still seeking employment six months after receiving their degree”  To diversify your workforce, start by providing equitable opportunities through pipeline internship programs. For some organizations, this may be a fiscal challenge, but you can work with community organizations or partner institutions on grants or funding or get creative with valuable benefits for participating interns.

Set specific goals for targeting diverse demographics

  • “Diversity” is a buzz word and at face value, applies to every single person. Every individual is different from one another and may bring a diverse perspective or piece of their identity to the workplace. Instead of setting your recruitment goals for diversity at large, communicate the value you are seeking specifically from targeting candidates who identify as people of color, LGBTQA+, female, someone with a disability, veteran, international, and/or other historically marginalized populations. Be prepared to present customized information for the demographic(s) you are recruiting for and leverage colleagues and leaders in the organization sharing those identities when recruiting.
  • Learn more about how to diversify your company with global talent by reviewing our center’s international hiring resource guide [PDF].

Intentional job posting and recruitment strategies

  • Once you set your specific recruitment goals, invest in this commitment by leveraging identity- and/or industry-based resources, such as job boards, professional associations, and community organizations. You can find examples of these organizations on our Career Equity & Access page. For on-campus recruiting, let us know if you’d like to connect with student organizations and offices on campus that serve the population(s) you are targeting.

Training for search committee members and interviewers

  • A best practice for meaningful diversity recruitment is to have all individuals involved with the recruiting and hiring process to undergo implicit bias training and actively engage in dialogue/case studies to practice removing intended and unintended bias from the resume review and interview processes.
  • Be prepared to answer questions candidates may ask to assess your organization’s commitment to DEI.

Retention and Growth

Achieving your organization’s diversity and inclusion goals should not stop once your team or organization is diversified. It is essential to have a plan on how to retain and grow that talent if you are truly seeking to reap the benefits of diverse perspectives, cultures, and identities in the workplace. You’ll notice your hiring strategies will become easier once you are successfully demonstrating a commitment to the inclusion and advancement of employees identifying with historically marginalized populations. Be sure to check out this NACE article - Retaining Diverse Early Talent Not a “Check Box” Activity.

Here are a few of our top tips on how to retain and grow diverse talent, followed by additional resources for best practices:

Establish and embed a clear mission and goals around DEI

  • If DEI is a value of your organization, be sure that is clearly reflected in your mission statement. Beyond a statement, plan to embed your commitment into your daily practices by ensuring inclusive language and representation is the norm in your products, services, and marketing materials/social media. A simple step you can take today is to begin normalizing introductions with pronouns at the start of any new meeting.

Continuous work towards a diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive workplace

  • DEI work does not have a finish line. There will always be work to do no matter where you are in your DEI journey. Many organizations have one or multiple dedicated Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee(s) and/or roles within the organization designed to intentionally focus on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. If you are one of these organizations or are planning to start a committee or new role, you will be most effective with a purpose, tangible goals, and intentional outcomes to measure. Avoid launching a committee or title committed to this work just “because it’s the right thing to do.”
  • Training around pertinent DEI topics, such as microaggressions, implicit bias, bystander intervention, etc… should be a staple of any organization committed to this work. This should take place during onboarding and throughout one’s career trajectory at the organization. Assess and respond to employee’s training needs and especially the feedback of underrepresented employees to address any barriers to inclusion.

Building community in the workplace

  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
    Building community is a key component to retaining diverse talent. An effective strategy to work towards this goal is to support the development and growth of identity-based affinity groups, often called Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Creating these spaces allows employees who share marginalized intersections of identities and those practicing allyship to connect through multiple means: meetings, social events, community engagement, healing spaces, activism, or other programming recommended by members. Some companies, such as LinkedIn, are providing significant financial compensation to the leaders of their affinity-based ERGs to recognize the value of this essential work in addition to their day-to-day job responsibilities. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has a helpful guide to launch ERGs if your organization does not yet have this as a resource.
  • Mentorship programs
    Exemplary Mentorship Programs-Mentorship programs have been a tool to grow retention within organizations as well as a DEI tool. Research continuously shows mentorship as a form of development for hires who are new to an organizational culture. Mentorship has also enhanced the career mobility of people from underrepresented communities. Although mentorship can be formal and informal, when companies have a formalized program, it eases the burden of members from the underrepresented communities and allows for leaders within the organization to step up and mentor people from a diverse background. It increases learning for both the mentors and mentees. Also, when there is a formalized program, the company sets parameters, e.g., mentors and mentees receive training, engage in career development that enhances retention and growth. It also allows for the parties to receive and ask for support if the pairing proves incompatible. Monster.com highlights 9 companies who have solid mentorship program. While these are companies with a large employee count, it does not mean that smaller companies cannot implement the strategies outlined here.
  • Partnership with community and professional associations
    A large part of DEI work is admitting that we cannot be the expert on everything and that many of our resources may come from external professionals and networks who share identities with employees and have experience in building community in industry settings. It is important to leverage existing organizations and resources who work to build identity- and industry-based affinity spaces locally, nationally, and globally. If your organization does not yet have ERGs (or even if you do), a great investment in retention would be to support the membership and involvement of employees in community and professional associations. You can find many of these organizations through this Directory of Professional Associations and the Human Rights Campaign’s list of Professional Associations. We have a number of identity- and industry-based professional associations listed on our Career Resource pages as well.

Investing in your diversity, equity and inclusion goals

  • One clear way to demonstrate your commitment to DEI is to spend your money investing in your diverse talent and social justice causes. Most organizations have a certain amount of funds set aside for sponsorships of community programs or larger-scale events/conferences. Be sure to allocate these funds to organizations that are committed to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world and workforce.

Build equitable promotion tracks and leadership opportunities

  • As stated earlier it is impossible to achieve diversity goals overnight. DEI goals ought to be reflected in every level of the organization. Diversity in leadership can help with the retention of diverse staff, it can also help in mentorship and sponsorship of staff as well increase in cultural awareness and inclusion. This goal can be achieved, through creating in-house leadership pipeline. There can also be active steps for opportunity hires a process that occurs in academia. In addition, companies must take into consideration that barriers that prevent promotion and growth for individuals from underrepresented communities and actively seek to remedy them. E.g. Are childcare policies favorable, is there support for mental health care and burnout prevention?
  • In addition to mentoring, sponsorship, and training. Performance reviews can be an effective tool to help employees especially members of the underrepresented communities thrive and secure a path to leadership. Effective Performance reviews help employees create smart goals, receive feedback and the opportunity to demonstrate value that organizations can appreciate. An effective review process that is timely also allows for constructive feedback and opportunity for growth.

This is not a complete list of diversity, equity, and inclusion terms. There are many great resources on campus including the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (CSDI) which has a variety of great resources for the Suffolk University community.

Agency: Taking back or exerting power in a subordinated identity.

Ally: A person who supports marginalized, silenced, or less privileged groups without actually being a member of those groups. This person will often directly or indirectly confront systems of oppression.

At-Risk Students or groups of students who are considered to have a higher probability of struggling academically or dropping out of school due to coming from social conditions that haven’t prepared them adequately or serve as hurdles in their way to success. Some challenges that at-risk students may face include poverty, homelessness, serious health issues, domestic violence, transiency or learning disabilities.

Biracial: (adjective) of, relating to, or involving members of two races.

Bias Incident: An intentional or unintentional act targeted at a person, group, or property expressing hostility on the basis of perceived or actual gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability. Bias incidents may consist of name-calling, epithets, slurs, degrading language, graffiti, intimidation, coercion, or harassment directed toward the targeted person or group. Acts qualify as bias acts even when delivered with humorous intent or presented as a joke or a prank.

Cisgender: A term used to describe people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Often abbreviated to cis.

Corporate Social Responsibility: (noun) Practicing good corporate citizenship by going beyond profit maximization to make a positive impact on communities and societies.

Culture: A social system of meaning and custom that is developed by a group of people to assure its adaptation and survival. These groups are distinguished by a set of unspoken rules that shape values, beliefs, habits, patterns of thinking, behaviors and styles of communication.

SOURCE: Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative. A Community Builder's Tool Kit.

Discrimination: The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion and other categories.

[In the United States] the law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants' and employees' sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

SOURCE: Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change Anti-Racism Initiative. A Community Builder's Tool Kit. And U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Laws Enforced by EEOC” Accessed June 28 2013

Diversity: Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term "diversity" is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.

It is important to note that many activists and thinkers critique diversity alone as a strategy. For instance, Baltimore Racial Justice Action states: “Diversity is silent on the subject of equity. In an anti-oppression context, therefore, the issue is not diversity, but rather equity. Often when people talk about diversity, they are thinking only of the “non-dominant” groups.”

SOURCE: UC Berkeley Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Glossary of Terms and Baltimore Racial Justice Action

Emotional Tax: The combination of being on guard to protect against bias, feeling different at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity, and the associated effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work.

Equality: Treating everyone the same way, often while assuming that everyone also starts out on equal footing or with the same opportunities.

Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations, and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.

SOURCE: Awake to Woke to Work

Implicit Bias: Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.

SOURCE: State of the Science Implicit Bias Review 2013, Cheryl Staats, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University

Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power.
The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate and bring their full, authentic selves to work. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in the words/actions/thoughts of all people.

SOURCE: OpenSource Leadership Strategies and Awake To Woke To Work

Inclusive Excellence: The recognition that a community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages and includes the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni constituents.

Intersectional/ity: Exposing [one’s] multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a Black woman in America does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a white woman, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a Black man. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life.

Per Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, "Intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia — seeing that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges. “Intersectionality 102,” then, is to say that these distinct problems create challenges for movements that are only organized around these problems as separate and individual. So when racial justice doesn’t have a critique of patriarchy and homophobia, the particular way that racism is experienced and exacerbated by heterosexism, classism etc., falls outside of our political organizing. It means that significant numbers of people in our communities aren’t being served by social justice frames because they don’t address the particular ways that they’re experiencing discrimination."

SOURCE: Intergroup Resources, 2012 and Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw

Institutional oppression: Policies and practices of institutions that marginalize or subordinate.

Marginalized groups: Sub-communities socially excluded from participating in the routine and mainstream activities of a society. They often are confined to the lower or peripheral edge of a society thereby lacking access to employment, affordable formal education, healthcare and social power, which often results in income discrepancies.

Microaggression: The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

SOURCE: Derald Wing Sue, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race” Psychology Today, November 17, 2010

Minority groups: Categories of people who are differentiated from a social majority due to having less social power. They can sometimes be underrepresented in particular majors, careers or societies but can also be in majority numerically and yet lack social power or the ability to influence. Historically, minority is often associated with people of color (e.g. Asians, Latinos, and Blacks) but it actually can be applied to other identities like gender, sexuality and religion.

Monoracial: Of a single race (ethnicity).

Multiracial: composed of, involving, or representing various races.

Movement Building: Movement building is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct stages over a long-term period of time. Through movement building, organizers can…

  1. Propose solutions to the root causes of social problems;
  2. Enable people to exercise their collective power;
  3. Humanize groups that have been denied basic human rights and improve conditions for the groups affected;
  4. Create structural change by building something larger than a particular organization or campaign; and
  5. Promote visions and values for society based on fairness, justice and democracy

SOURCE: Roots: Building the Power of Communities of Color to Challenge Structural Racism. Akonadi Foundation, 2010. (Definition from the Movement Strategy Center.)

Multicultural Competency: A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.

SOURCE: Multicultural Competence, Paul Kivel, 2007.

Neurodiversity: The concept that there is great diversity in how people’s brains are wired and work, and that neurological differences should be valued in the same way we value any other human variation.

Non-Binary (also known as Genderqueer): A category for a fluid constellation of gender identities beyond the woman/man gender binary.

Oppression: The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  1. the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,
  2. the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),
  3. genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and,
  4. members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.
  5. Oppression = Power + Prejudice

SOURCE: Dismantling Racism Works web workbook

People/Students of Color: Refer to a large group of racially and ethnically diverse people/ students from various origins. Students who self-identify or are identified as Black/African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American/Alaska, Native/Indigenous, Chicano/Latina/o/x, Arab/Arab American or multiracial may be represented by this term. People of color is a term used mainly in the United States and Canada to represent persons whose ethnic/racial and cultural groups have been targets of racism and/or are excluded from privileges associated with whiteness.

Power: is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power over other individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change. Power may also be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.

SOURCE: Intergroup Resources, 2012 and Alberta Civil Liberties Research Center

Privilege: Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we’re taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.

SOURCE: Colors of Resistance Archive

Racial Equity: is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.

SOURCE: Center for Assessment and Policy Development

Social Justice: A concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of power, wealth, education, healthcare, and other opportunities for personal activity and social privileges.

SOURCE: Awake to Woke to Work

Socially constructed identity: Created for the purposes of categorizing people; based on beliefs about groups of people, not biology. Including, but not limited to, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religion.

Subordinated or Target group: Membership in a group that experiences oppression or marginalization in a mainstream society.

Structural oppression: Cumulative and compounding effects of societal factors.

Unconscious Bias: (noun) An implicit association, whether about people, places, or situations, which are often based on mistaken, inaccurate, or incomplete information and include the personal histories we bring to the situation.

Work-Life Effectiveness: (noun) A talent management strategy that focuses on doing the best work at the best time with the best talent. It helps businesses create flexibility, enhance agility, and drive mutually beneficial solutions for both employers and employees.

Workplace Inclusion: An atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute, and can thrive. Requires deliberate and intentional action.


The Employer DEI page was inspired by resources developed by our colleagues at Colorado State University - Career Center.