Diversity terms are all over the place. Do you know the meaning of BIPOC, Folx or Culture Add? I didn’t…until I looked it up!
I started keeping a list of these D&I (“Diversity & Inclusion”) terms for Ongig’s clients and decided to put them all in one place in this glossary below. I’m up to 200+ diversity words and welcome your additions!
Because this D&I glossary has 200+ terms, I’ve made this table of contents/shortcut below for you to get to a word faster:
Diversity Terms Starting with the Letter “A”
AAPI — AAPI is an acronym for Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders. Other similar acronyms are APA which means Asian-Pacific American and API which means Asian-Pacific Islander. These acronyms replace a derogatory term, “Oriental” in the 1960s.
AAL — African American Language, similar to AAVE defined below.
AAVE — AAVE is an acronym for African American Vernacular English. AAVE is a dialect of American English characterized by pronunciations and vocabulary used by some North American Black people and is a variation of Standard American English.
Ableism — Ableism means the practices or dominant attitudes by a society that devalue or limit the potential for people with disabilities. Ableism is the act of giving inferior value or worth to people who have different types of disabilities (physical, emotional, developmental, or psychiatric).
Ace — Lacking sexual attraction to others. Other families under the ace umbrella are graysexual (little sexual attraction), aromantic (no romantic attraction), and demisexual (sexual attraction after a strong emotional bond).
Accessibility — Accessibility is the term for making a facility usable by people with physical disabilities. Examples of accessibility include self-opening doors, elevators for multiple levels, raised lettering on signs and entry ramps
Accountability — Accountability refers to ways individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, while acknowledging the values and groups to which they are responsible.
Acculturation — Acculturation means a process when members of a cultural group adopt the patterns, beliefs, languages, and behaviors of another group’s culture.
ADA — ADA is an abbreviation for the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
ADHD/ADD — What is ADHD? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (sometimes referred to as ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder) means that a person has difficulty with attention span, activity levels, and impulsive actions.
ADOS — ADOS means American Descendants of Slavery. ADOS is a group that seeks to reclaim and restore the critical national character of the African American identity and experience in the United States.
AFAB/AMAB — Assigned Female/Male At Birth, refers to intersex people born with ambiguous genitals. Its also used by trans and non-binary people.
AGL (All-Gender-Loving) — a phrase coming from African-American communities that refers to people who are attracted to multiple or all genders.
Affinity Bias — giving favor to candidates with a similar background to the interviewer. (e.g., common interests, college, religion, or social groups like sororities/fraternities).
Affinity Groups — Affinity Groups are a collection of individuals with similar interests or goals. Affinity Groups promote inclusion, diversity, and other efforts that benefit employees from underrepresented groups.
Affirmative Action — Affirmative Action is the practice of favoring groups of people who have been discriminated against in the past.
Affirming Honorific — a title (e.g., Mr., Ms., or Mx.) that affirms a person’s identity.
Affirming Name — a “gender-affirming” name that someone wants to be known by. Similar to “preferred name.”
Affirming Pronouns — pronouns that match a person’s gender identity (e.g., he, she, they).
African American — The term African American refers to people in the United States who have ethnic origins to Africa.
Agender — Agender means a person who does not identify themselves as having a particular gender.
Alaska Native — Alaska Native is a term for the indigenous people of Alaska. Alaska Natives consist of over 200 federally recognized tribes who speak 20 different languages.
Ally — Ally is a term for people who advocate for individuals from underrepresented or marginalized groups in a society.
Allyship — Allyship is the process in which people with privilege and power work to develop empathy towards to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalized outgroup. Allyship is part of the anti-oppression or anti-racist conversation, which puts into use social justice theories and ideals. The goal of allyship is to create a culture in which the marginalized group feels supported.
Amplification — Amplification is a term used for the techniques a person uses to give a member of a less dominant group more credit by repeating their message.
Androgyne — Androgyne is a term for a person identifying or expressing gender outside of the gender binary.
Anglo — Anglo or Anglo-Saxon means to be related to the descendants of Germanic people who reigned in Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066. Anglo often refers to white English-speaking persons of European descent in England or North America, not of Hispanic or French origin.
Antegender — The time before one’s gender is decided. For example, author and sociologist Kyl Myers gave birth to her gender-neutral “theyby” and it wasn’t until “theyby” (later renamed Zoomer) was 5 years old that Myers announced that Zoomer preferred he/his pronouns. Those earlier 5 years were antegender.
Anti-Black — Anti-Black refers to the marginalization of Black People and the unethical disregard for anti-Black institutions and policies.
Anti-Racism — Anti-Racism means to actively oppose racism by advocating for political, economic, and social change.
Anti-Racist Ideas — Anti-Racist ideas refer to the assumption that racial groups are equals despite their differences.
Arab — Arab refers to people who have ethnic roots in the following Arabic‐speaking lands: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
(ASD) Autism Spectrum Disorder — What is autism spectrum disorder? ASD means that a person has neurological differences because of atypical brain connections affecting their development. These differences might lead to unusual development, challenges, or special abilities. ASD is sometimes used synonymously with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC).
Asexual — An “asexual person’ is used to describe people who do not experience sexual attraction.
Asian-American — Asian-American is a term that means to have origins in Asia or the Indian subcontinent. Asian-American includes people who live in the United States and indicate their race as:
- Other Asian
Aspergers Syndrome — What is Aspergers syndrome? Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition on the autism spectrum that affects how people communicate and interact with others. People with Asperger’s can function highly and may not have learning disabilities associated with other types of autism.
Assimilation — Assimilation is a term for the concept where an individual, family, or group gives up certain aspects of their culture to adapt to the beliefs, language, patterns, and behaviors of a new host country.
Autism — What is autism? Autism is a developmental disability that appears during early childhood. Autism can have an impact on a person’s ability to self-regulate, communicate, socialize, and form relationships. There are different types of autism, which is why some people refer to people as being “on the autism spectrum”.
Diversity Terms Starting with B
BAME — BAME meaning “Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic” is an acronym used mostly in the United Kingdom to identify Black and Asian people.
Belonging — Belonging is a term used to define the experience of being accepted and included by those around you. Belonging means to have a sense of social connection and identification with others.
Benevolent Sexism — A subtle form of sexism that comes from a good place and includes positive attitudes of gender, but can be damaging to people (like women) and to gender equality. Usually the language or actions are subtle, unconscious, and habitual. Here are som examples:
“First, failing to give women specific assignments — like in a workplace, community board, or church assignment — because it might be “too stressful” or interfere with her family commitments. Second, people often comment on women’s appearance, even well-intentioned, but can undermine an individual’s feelings of being taken seriously. Another is when people do acknowledge women, but only when they fit the norms (e.g., nurturing, compassionate, intuitive, empathetic), even when they have other wonderful qualities that are more often valued in some settings (e.g., results-oriented, strategic, assertive, professional).”source: Susan Madsen: Understanding ‘benevolent sexism’ can help us be better Utahns, The Salt lake Tribune. July 23, 2021
Bias — Bias means to have a prejudice against groups that are not similar to you or to have show preference for people that are similar to you.
Bicultural — Bicultural is a term that refers to people who possess the values, beliefs, languages, and behaviors of two distinct ethnic or racial groups.
Bigotry — Bigotry means to glorify a person’s own group and have prejudices against members of other groups.
BIPOC — What does BIPOC mean? The BIPOC acronym stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Read BIPOC: The Hottest (Controversial) Word in Diversity?
Biphobia — Biphobia means to have an irrational fear, hatred, or intolerance for people who identify as bisexual.
Biracial — Biracial is a term for mixed race. Biracial is used to describe a person who identities as being of two races, or whose parents are from two different race groups.
Birth Assigned Sex — Birth Assigned Sex refers to a person’s biological, hormonal, and genetic composition at the time of their birth.
Biromantic Asexual — A person who is romantically attracted to multiple genders.
Biromantic Demisexual — A person who is sexually attracted to multiple genders, when they are romantically attracted to a person.
Bisexual — Bisexual, commonly known as Bi, is a term for individuals who are attracted to people of two genders.
Black — Black means to be related to people who have ethnic origins in Africa, or not of white European descent. Black is often used
interchangeably with African American in the United States.
Black-American — Black-American is a term used by Black people born in the United States who do not identify with having ethnic roots in Africa or other nations.
Black ethnic group — A phrase used in the UK to describe a person who identifies as Black. Other accepted terms are “people from a Black Caribbean background” and “Black people”.
Black Lives Matter — Black Lives Matter is a movement that addresses systemic racism and violence against African Americans and other groups with ties to Black culture.
Block list — An inclusive replacement phrase in the U.S. and the UK for “blacklist” or “black list”.
Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) — The Bloomberg gender-equality index tracks the performance of public companies who disclose their efforts in supporting gender equality. The annual report shares diversity statistics for hundreds of companies. The GEI index measures performance and disclosure in:
- female leadership & talent pipeline
- equal pay & gender pay parity
- inclusive culture
- sexual harassment policies
- pro-women brand
BME — What is BME? BME stands for Black [and Asian] & Minority Ethnic and is commonly used in the UK, interchangeably with BAME. (See GOV.UK’s style guide on the use of BME, BAME, and people of colour)
Diversity Terms Starting with C
Caren Act — “CAREN Act” (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies). The ordinance is similar to the statewide AB 1550 bill introduced by California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, making it unlawful and accountable for a caller to “fabricate false racially-biased emergency reports.”.
Caucuses — Caucuses are groups that provide spaces for people to work within their own racial or ethnic groups.
CD&I — Acronym for Culture, Diversity and Inclusion. Walmart, the U.S. Navy and others use CD&I to describe their overall diversity initiatives.
Chicanx — Chicanx means a person related to Mexican Americans or their culture. Chicanx is a gender-neutral term used in the place of Chicano or Chicana.
Chile — A phonetic way of spelling “child” that’s often used in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and in southern parts of the United States. Chile was recently added to Dictionary.com.
Cisgender (CIS) — Cisgender means a person whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. The abbreviation for Cisgeneder is CIS.
Cissexual — Cissexual is a term that refers to a person who identifies with the same biological sex that they were assigned at birth.
Classism — Classism is a term that means to have prejudicial thoughts or to discriminate against a person or group based on differences in socioeconomic status and income level.
Code-Switching — Code-switching means when a person changes the way they express themselves culturally and linguistically based on different parts of their identity and how they are represented in the group they’re with.
Color Blind(ness) — Color Blind(ness) or being Color Blind means treating people as equally as possible without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity.
Collusion — Collusion is when a person acts to perpetuate oppression or prevent people from working to eliminate oppression.
Colonization — Colonization refers to forms of invasion, dispossession, or controlling an underrepresented group.
Color Brave — Color Brave is when a person has conversations about race that can help people better understand each other’s perspectives and experiences to improve inclusiveness in future generations.
Coming Out — Coming Out is a phrase used to define the process of making others aware of one’s sexual orientation, and is also known as Coming Out of the Closet.
Communities of Color — Communities of Color is used in the United States to describe groups of people who are not identified as White, with emphasis on common experiences of racism.
Corporate Social Responsibility — Corporate Social Responsibility means to practice positive corporate citizenship to make a positive impact on communities, not just focusing on maximizing profits.
Covert Racism — Covert Racism is an indirect behavior used to express racist attitudes or ideas in hidden or subtle forms.
Critical Race Theory — A theory based on how historical laws and social structures impact present-day racial inequality.
“A conceptual framework that considers the impact of historical laws and social structures on the present-day perpetuation of racial inequality.”
Cross-Dresser — Cross-Dresser refers to people who wear clothing that is traditionally associated with a different gender than the one they identify with.
Cultural Appropriation — Cultural Appropriation means the act of stealing cultural elements for a person’s own use or profit.
Cultural Identity — Cultural Identity means the identity or feeling of belonging to a group based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality, or other types of social groups that have their own distinct culture.
Culture — Culture is defined as a social system of customs that are developed by a group of people to ensure its survival and adaptation.
Culture Add — Culture Add refers to people who value company culture and standards, as well as bringing an aspect of diversity that positively contributes to the organization.
Culture Fit — Culture Fit refers to a person’s attitudes, values, behaviors, and beliefs being in line with the values and culture of an organization. Culture Add, defined above, is becoming a preferred alternative to Culture Fit.
Diversity Terms Starting with D
D&I — D&I stands for “diversity and inclusion” and is often a catch-all for diversity initiatives.
The phrase “Diversity and Inclusion” (D&I) is not always used in the same order. For example, in the social media ad space, Facebook uses “Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)” while Twitter uses “Inclusion and Diversity (I&D)”.
What is the difference between “diversity” versus “inclusion”? As written about in Top Diversity Job Titles,
“Diversity is the what (the characteristics of the people you work with such as gender, ethnicity, age, disability and education). Inclusion is the how (the behaviors and social norms that ensure people feel welcome).”
Some companies also use the words “equity” (Slack) and “equality” (Salesforce) in their diversity titles. Equity and equality are usually alternatives to “inclusion”.
Deadnaming (or deadname) — Using someone’s birth name instead of their chosen name, usually trans or non-binary.
Decolonization — Decolonization refers to the active resistance against colonial powers from indigenous culture groups.
DEI — What is DEI? DEI is an acronym that stands for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
DEIB — What is DEIB in business? DEIB stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging.
Demisexual — A sexual orientation where people experience sexual attraction only to people they are emotionally close to.
Differbility/Diffability — Differbility and Diffability is the combination of the words “different” and “ability”.
“an alternative to the word “disability” intended to remove the term’s negative connotations of disabilities.” (source — Disabled World)
Disabled People — An inclusive replacement phrase used in the UK for “the disabled” or “people with disabilities”.
Disability — Disability is a term used to describe people who have a mental or physical impairment which has a long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. What is the politically correct term for disabled? “Person with a Disability” is a more inclusive, less biased term to describe someone who is disabled.
Disablism — Disablism means promoting the unequal or differential treatment of people with actual or presumed disabilities; either consciously or unconsciously.
Diaspora — Diaspora is either voluntary or forcible movement of people from their homelands into new regions.
Discrimination — What is Discrimination? Discrimination is a term used to describe the unequal treatment of individuals or groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual
orientation, physical ability, religion, national origin, age, physical or mental abilities, and other categories that may result in differences.
Diversity — Diversity is defined as individual differences between groups based on such things as:
- learning styles
- life experiences
- sexual orientation
- country of origin
- cultural, political or religious affiliation
- any other difference
Which term is a synonym for diversity? Popular synonyms are “mixture”, “variance”, “difference”, and “un-alike”.
Dominant Culture — Dominant Culture is a term that refers to the cultural beliefs, values, and traditions that are based on those of a dominant society. Practices in a Dominant Culture practices are considered “normal” and “right.”
Drag Queen/King — A drag queen performs femininity, in a comedy or in a pageant for entertainment. A drag king performs masculinity.
Dyscalculia — What is dyscalculia? Dyscalculia is when a person has difficulty with calculations and numbers.
Dysgraphia — What is dysgraphia? Dysgraphia is when a person has difficulty spelling or putting thoughts together on paper.
Dyslexia — What is dyslexia? Dyslexia is when a person has difficulty reading. People with dyslexia may also have difficulty with comprehension, spelling, and writing.
Dyspraxia — Dyspraxia is when a person has difficulty with movement and coordination. Many people with Dyspraxia also have ADHD or other sensory processing issues.
Diversity Terms Starting with E
Echolalia — What is echolalia in Autism? Echolalia is when a person with autism repeats something they hear back to another person.
EDI — EDI Is an acroynm that stands for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. It’s used by such organizations as University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), American Library Association and the National Institutes of Health.
EEO — EEO stands for Equal Employment Opportunity. EEO is part of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment based on an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Emotional Tax — Emotional Tax refers to the effects of being on guard to protect against bias at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity. Emotional Tax has effects on a person’s health, well-being, and the ability to be successful at work.
Enby — Enby is an abbreviation used for a nonbinary person in the LGBTQ community. It’s a phonetic pronunciation of NB, short for nonbinary, or people who do not identify their gender as male or female.
Equality — The term “Equality” (in the context of diversity) is typically defined as treating everyone the same and giving everyone access to the same opportunities. It is sometimes used as an alternative to “inclusion”. The company Salesforce, for example, uses Chief Equality Officer as the job title for the top diversity and inclusion executive.
Equity — The term “equity” (in the context of diversity) refers to proportional representation (by race, class, gender, etc.) in employment opportunities. The company Slack, for example, uses “Equity” in some job titles (e.g. Senior Technical Recruiter, Diversity Equity Inclusion Lead).
ERG — ERG stands for Employee Resource Group. ERGs are employee identity or experience-based groups that are meant to build the feeling of community in the workplace. ERGS are sometimes known as Affinity Groups or Diversity Groups. Google has over 16 Employee Resource Groups with more than 250 chapters globally that support professional development opportunities for underrepresented communities. Creating ERGs are often a part of a company’s Steps to Implement a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
Ethnic Diversity — The term Ethnic Diversity refers to the presence of different ethnic backgrounds or identities.
Ethnic Minorities — Used in the UK when referring to all ethnic groups except the “White British Group. Ethnic minorities include White minorities, such as Gypsy, Roma, and Irish Traveller groups.”
Ethnicity — Ethnicity, or Ethnic Group, is a way to divide people into smaller social groups based on characteristics like:
- cultural heritage
- behavioral patterns
- political and economic interests
- ancestral geographical base
ESL — ESL is an acronym for English as a Second Language. ESL refers to individuals who do not speak English as their first language but may still be proficient in speaking English.
Exclusion — Exclusion means leaving someone out based on their differences. These differences can be related to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, class, or other social groups.
Diversity Terms Starting with F
Femme — Femme is a gender identity where a person has an awareness of cultural standards of femininity and actively carries out a feminine appearance or role.
Filipinx — Filipinx means a person who is a national of the Philippines, or a person of Filipino descent. Filipinx is a gender-neutral term used in the place of Filipino or Filipina.
Finna — A phonetic way of saying “fixing to” or “about to do something” that’s often used in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and in southern parts of the United States. Finna was recently added to Dictionary.com.
First Nations — First Nations is a term used to describe indigenous people from Canada who are not Inuit or Métis. Many First Nations people prefer to define or identify themselves by their specific tribal affiliations.
Folx — Folx is an umbrella term for people with non-normative sexual orientation or identity.
FTM — FTM is an acronym for the Female-to-Male Spectrum. FTM is used by people who are assigned female at birth but identify with or express their gender as a male part of the time.
Gay — Gay is an umbrella term used to refer to people who experience a same-sex or same-gender attraction. Gay is also an identity term used to describe a male-identified person who is attracted to other male-identified people in a romantic, sexual, and/or emotional sense.
Gender — Gender is a term used to describe socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that society considers “appropriate” for men and women. It is separate from ‘sex’, which is the biological classification of male or female based on physiological and biological features.
Gender Binary — Gender Binary is a term used to describe the classification system consisting of two genders, male and female.
Gender Dysphoria — Gender Dysphoria is a phrase used to describe a feeling of discomfort that occurs in people whose gender identity differs from their birth assigned sex.
Gender Expansive — a term describing someone whose gender expression does not conform to social expectations or stereotypes. (also known as gender non-conforming, gender variant, or gender creative.)
Gender Expression — Gender Expressions means that a person shows external displays of gender (masculine or feminine) based on one or more of the following:
- social behavior
Gender Fluid — What do you call someone who is Gender Fluid? A person who is gender fluid changes their gender over time or may switch between dressing as male or female day-to-day.
Gender Identity — Gender Identity means a person’s perception of their gender. Gender Identity may or may not correspond with their birth assigned sex.
Gender Neutral — Gender Neutral, or Gender Neutrality, means that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles based on sex or gender in order to avoid discrimination.
Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) — Gender Non-Conforming sometimes called Gender-Variant is a term used to describe a person who does not conform to society’s expectations of gender expression.
Gender Policing — Gender Policing means the enforcement of normative gender expressions on a person who is perceived as not participating in behavior that aligns with their assigned gender at birth.
Gender Queer — Gender Queer, or Genderqueer, is a catch-all term for people who have non-binary gender identities. What do you call a non-binary person? Calling them by their preferred pronouns is preferred.
Gender Role — A Gender Role is a socially assigned expectation or cultural norm related to behavior, mannerisms, dress, etc. based on gender.
Gender Spectrum — Gender Spectrum refers to the idea that there are many different genders, besides male and female.
Gender Transition — when a person brings their external gender expression in line with how they see themselves on the inside. This can involve:
- legal changes
- social changes
- medical changes
Greygender — A person with strong ambivalence about their gender identity and expression.
Greysexual (aka Graysexual)– A person who has a limited feeling of sexual attraction.
Groupthink — Groupthink is when people discourage a person from thinking a certain way or making decisions using individual creativity.
Gypsies (Gypsy Travellers) — A recognized ethnic group in the UK under the Race Relations Act.
Diversity Terms Starting with H
HBCU — HBCU is an acronym that stands for “Historically Black Colleges and Universities”. HBCUs were established, post-American Civil War, in the United States to primarily serve the Black community, although they allow admission to students of all races.
Hepeating — Hepeating is when a man repeats a woman’s comments to takes them as his own to gain credit or praise for the idea.
Heteroflexible — A person who identifies as straight but may have occasional homosexual activity. This is not bisexuality because a straight person doesn’t experience same-sex attraction.
Heteronormativity — Heteromnormativity is the assumption that heterosexuality is natural, ideal, or superior to other sexual preferences. Examples of Heteronormativity include:
- the lack of same-sex couples in media or advertising
- laws against same-sex marriage
Heterosexism — Heterosexism is a term used to describe the belief that heterosexuality is superior or “normal” compared to other forms of sexuality or sexual orientation.
Heterosexual — Heterosexual a term used to identify a female-identified person who is attracted to a male-identified person, or a male-identified person who is attracted to a female-identified person.
Hidden Bias — hidden bias, or implicit bias, refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect a person’s understanding, actions, or decisions unconsciously as it relates to people from different groups. Also known as Unconcious Bias.
Hispanic — Hispanic is a term used to describe people who speak Spanish and/or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations.
Homophobia — Homophobia means to have an irrational fear or intolerance of people who are homosexual or having feelings of homosexuality.
Homosexual — this term was originally used to diagnose people with a mental illness, and has been used so much by people opposed to LGBTQ+ communities that has a negative connotation.
Host Culture — Host Culture refers to the dominant culture in a place people live in after leaving their home country.
Hypersensitivity — when a neurodivergent person has a very high or intense response to a certain stimulus. (e.g., colors, smells, textures, or sounds)
Hyposensitivity — when a neurodivergent person has a very low response to a certain stimulus. (e.g., light, sound, pain)
Diversity Terms Starting with I
Implicit Bias — What is Implicit Bias? Implicit Bias, or hidden bias, refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect a person’s understanding, actions, or decisions unconsciously as it relates to people from different groups. Also known as Unconcious Bias.
Imposter Syndrome — Imposter Syndrome is common in members of underrepresented groups. Imposter Syndrome is present when high-achieving individuals are in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud and are unable to internalize their accomplishments.
Inclusion — The term Inclusion refers to the process of bringing people that are traditionally excluded into decision making processes, activities, or positions of power. Inclusion is sometimes called Inclusiveness and allows individuals or groups to feel safe, respected, motivated, and engaged.
Inclusive Language — Inclusive Language refers to the use of gender non-specific language to avoid assumptions around sexual orientation and gender identity.
Indigenous People — Indigenous People is a term used to identify ethnic groups who are the earliest known inhabitants of an area, also known as First People in some regions.
Individual Racism — Individual Racism is when a person acts to perpetuate or support racism without knowing that is what they are doing. For example, racists jokes, avoiding people of color or accepting racist acts.
In-Group Bias — In-Group Bias is when people respond more positively to people from their “in-groups” than they do for people from “out-groups”.
Institutional Racism — Institutional Racism means that institutional practices and policies create different outcomes for different racial groups. These policies may not specifically target any racial group, but their effect creates advantages for white people and oppression or disadvantages for people of color. Often used interchangeably with Structural Racism.
Integration — Integration is when an individual maintains their own cultural identity while also becoming a participant in a host culture.
Intersectionality — Intersectionality means to intertwine social identities like gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity which causes unique opportunities, barriers, experiences, or social inequality.
Intersex — Intersex means to be born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the boxes of male or female. Intersex often involves a discrepancy between the external and internal genitals (the testes and ovaries). The older term for Intersex is hermaphroditism
Inuit — Inuit is a term used to describe a member of an indigenous group from northern Canada and parts of Greenland and Alaska.
Irish Traveller — A recognized ethnic group in the UK under the Race Relations Act.
Diversity Terms Starting with K
Karen — Karen is a common stereotype of white women who use privilege to demand something out of the scope of what is necessary. Wikipedia says a Karen would:
“demand to “speak to the manager”, anti-vaccination beliefs, being racist, or sporting a particular bob cut hairstyle. As of 2020, the term was increasingly being used as a general-purpose term of disapproval for middle-aged white women”
Diversity Terms Starting with L
Latino — Latino is a term used to describe people who are from or descended from people from Latin America.
Latinx — What is Latinx? Latinx is a gender-neutral term used to replace Latino or Latina when referring to a person of Latin-American descent.
Lesbian — Lesbian is a term that refers to a female-identified person who is attracted emotionally, physically, or sexually to other female-identified people.
Lesbophobia — Lesbophobia is an irrational fear or hatred of, and discrimination against lesbians or lesbian behavior.
LGBT — Abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (often used to encompass sexual preference and gender identities that do not correspond to heterosexual norms).
LGBT is an acronym with multiple variations such as:
- LGBTQ — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning).
- LGBTQIA — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies).
- LGBTA — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and asexual/aromantic/
- LGBTIQQ — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Questioning.
- LGBTQ2+ — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or sometimes questioning), and two-spirited. The “+” signifies a number of other identities and is used to keep the abbreviation brief when written out. Some write out the full abbreviation which is LGBTTTQQIAA.
Diversity Terms Starting with M
Mansplain — Mansplain is a word used to describe when are men explaining something to a person in a condescending or patronizing manner, typically a woman.
Marginalization — Marginalization means to exclude, ignore, or relegate a group of people to an unimportant or powerless position in society.
Melting Pot — Melting Pot is a metaphor people use to describe a society where various types of people blend together as one.
Métis — Métis is a French word that refers to someone with mixed ancestry. Métis is a common term referring to a multiancestral indigenous group whose homeland is in Canada and parts of the United States between the Great Lakes region and the Rocky Mountains.
Metrosexual — Metrosexual means refers to a well-groomed style for non-queer men that is a mix of the words “heterosexual” and “metropolitan”.
Mexican American — Mexican American refers to the group of Americans of full or partial Mexican descent in the United States. What do you call a Mexican American? Chicano, Chicana, or Chicanx or accepted terms for Mexican Americans.
Microaggression — Microaggression is a term that describes daily behavior (verbal or nonverbal) that communicates hostile or negative insults towards a group, either intentionally or unintentionally, particularly culturally marginalized groups.
Minority — Minority is a term often used to describe racially, ethnically, or culturally distinct groups that are usually subordinate to more dominant groups. These groups are called Minority Groups. However, a minority in one setting is not always a minority in another. For example, Black students typically make up the bulk of the campus population at historically Black institutions.
Note: The NASDAQ stock exchange (which as new roles requiring its members to be diverse) says that an “underrepresented minority” means any individual who self-identifies as one or more of the following: Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian, Native American or Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or two or more races or ethnicities. LGBTQ+ means any individual who self-identifies as any of the following: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or a member of the queer community.
Misgender — To refer to someone using a word (especially a pronoun or form of address) that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify.
Mixed Race — What do you call a person of Mixed Race? Mixed Race means a person who has parents that belong to different racial or ethnic groups.
(MLM) Men-Loving-Men — An umbrella term for gay, bisexual and pansexual men.
Model Minority — According to the Racial Equity Tools Glossary, Model Minority is:
“A term created by sociologist William Peterson to describe the Japanese community, whom he saw as being able to overcome oppression because of their cultural values.”
Movement Building — Movement Building refers to an effort to address systemic problems or injustices while promoting alternative solutions or visions.
MTF — MTF is an acronym for the Male-to-Female Spectrum. MTF is used to describe people who are assigned the male gender at birth but identifies or express their gender as a female all or part of the time.
Multicultural — Multicultural means pertaining to more than one culture.
Multicultural Competency — Multicultural Competency refers to the process of learning about other cultures and becoming allies with people from different backgrounds.
Multiethnic — Multiethnic describes a person who comes from more than one ethnicity.
Multi-ethnic — A commonly used term in the UK that means consisting of, or relating to various different races.
Multiracial — Multiracial describes a person who comes from more than one race.
Diversity Terms Starting with N
Native American — Native American is a broad term that refers to people of North and South America but is generally used to describe the indigenous people from the United States. Native American is often used interchangeably with American Indian, although many Native Americans find the word “Indian” offensive and prefer to identify themselves by their specific tribe.
Some companies and sports teams are even changing their names or mascots, because of racial bias related to the word “Indian”.
NB — NB is an acronym for nonbinary (people who do not identify their gender as male or female). The abbreviation Enby is sometimes used as an alternative to NB.
Neopronoun (aka neo-pronoun, noun-self pronoun and neolanguage) — a form of gender-neutral third-person pronoun used in place of he, she, it and they. It is used by some non-binary people. Examples: xe/xem/xyr, ze/hir/hirs, and ey/em/eir.
Neurodivergent (ND) — Neurodivergent, sometimes known as ND, means having a brain that works in a way that diverges significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”
Neurodiversity — Neurodiversity is a relatively new term coined in 1998 by autistic, Australian sociologist Judy Singer in 1998. The neurodiversity definition began as a way to describe people on the Autistic spectrum. Neurodiversity has since broadened to include people with:
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Order)
- DSD (Dyspraxia)
- Tourette Syndrome
- and other neurological differences
What does it mean to be on the spectrum? Check out Neurodiversity: The Definitive Guide for more about the meaning of neurodiversity and examples of it in the workplace.
Neurodiverse — What is neurodiverse? Neurodiverse is used to describe a group of people where some members of the group are neurodivergent.
Neurodiversity Movement — The Neurodiversity Movement is a social justice movement that is seeking equality, respect, inclusion, and civil rights for people with Neurodiversity.
Neuroatypical — A person who does not have a neurological difference, like autism.
Neurotypical — Neurotypical is often abbreviated as NT and it means to have a style of neurocognitive functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of “normal.” Neurotypical can be used as either an adjective (“They’re neurotypical”) or a noun (“They are a neurotypical”).
Neurominority — Neurominority refers to an underrepresented group of Neurodiverse people who may face challenges or bias from society.
Non-Binary — What do you call a gender-neutral person? The preferred term is Non-Binary. What does it mean to be non-binary? Non-Binary is a term used to describe people who identify with a gender that is not exclusively male or female or is in between both genders.
Non-White — Using this phrase in the UK is not recommended according to the GOV.UK Writing About Ethnicity Style Guide “because defining groups in relation to the White majority was not well received in user research.”
Diversity Terms Starting with O
On the Spectrum — On the spectrum refers to someone who is on the Autism spectrum or with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Oppositional Sexism — Oppositional Sexism is the belief that femininity and masculinity are rigid and exclusive categories.
Oppression — Oppression refers to systemic and institutional abuse of power by a dominant or privileged group at the expense of targeted, less privileged groups.
Outgroup Bias — Outgroup Bias is when people view people from outside their “group” as less similar and have negative bias against them.
Diversity Terms Starting with P
Pacific Islander — Pacific Islander, or Pasifika, is a term that refers to the indigenous inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, specifically people with origins whose origins from the following sub-regions of Oceania:
Pansexual — Pansexual is a term used to describe a person who has an attraction to a person regardless of where they fall on the gender or sexuality spectrum.
Passing — When a transgender person is perceived as the gender they identify as and not as a trans person.
Patriarchy — Patriarchy refers to a social system where power and authority are held by men.
People-First Language (PFL) — People-first language puts a person before a diagnosis or way of being. It describes what a person “has” rather than saying what a person “is”. (e.g., “person with a disability” vs. “disabled”)
People of Color — People of Color, or Person of Color, is a phrase used in the United States to describe people who are not white and is meant to be inclusive of non-white groups, with emphasis on common experiences of racism.
Platinum Rule — “The Platinum Rule” is an inclusionary take on the “Golden Rule” (instruting us to treat others how they want to be treated). The Platinum Rules urges people to ignore personal biases and treat others by how they feel they deserve to be treated).
POC — POC stands for People of Color. It is commonly used as an acronym in the United States to describe people who are not white.
Polyamory — The consensual practice of intimate relationships with multiple partners. All parties may be involved with each other or only with a specific person.
Polygender — a person with several gender identities.
Power — Power (in the context of diversity) is considered to be unequally distributed globally due to the following things:
Preferred Name — an outdated term referring to a name that someone uses instead of their legal name. “Affirming name” is becoming more accepted.
Prejudice — Prejudice means to pre-judge or have a negative attitude towards one type of person or group because of stereotypes or generalizations.
Privilege — Privilege (in the context of diversity) means an unearned social power for members of a dominant group of society including benefits, entitlements, or a set of advantages in society.
Pronouns — Pronouns (in the context of diversity) are consciously chosen phrases that people use to represent their gender identity. There are certain pronouns to avoid like “he” or “she”, especially during the hiring process or in the workplace. Sometimes called “gender pronouns.”
Diversity Terms Starting with Q
QPOC — What is QPOC? QPOC is an acronym for Queer People of Color used in the UK and Canada. Another similar acronym is QTIPOC which stands for Queer, Transgender, and Intersex People of Color.
Queer — What does it mean to be queer? The term Queer is an umbrella term that allows non-heterosexual people to identify their sexual orientation without stating who they are attracted to. The term Queer includes gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people.
Questioning — A person who might be unsure of their sexuality or gender and is exploring preferred labels. If a person goes between labels, comes out and then changes their mind, or experiments safely, this is natural and should be supported.
Diversity Terms Starting with R
Race — What does race mean? Race is a social term that is used to divide people into distinct groups based on characteristics like:
- physical appearance (mainly skin color)
- cultural affliction
- cultural history
- ethnic classification
- social, economic, and political needs
When was the term race first used? According to Wikipedia:
“The word “race”, interpreted to mean an identifiable group of people who share a common descent, was introduced into English in about 1580, from the Old French rasse (1512), from Italian razza.”
Racism — Racism is the oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that gives privilege to white people.
Racial and Ethnic Identity — Racial and Ethnic Identity refers to a person’s experience of being a member of an ethnic and racial group. Racial and Ethnic Identity is based on what a person chooses to describe themselves as based on the following:
- biological heritage
- physical appearance
- cultural affiliation
- early socialization
- personal experience
Racial Justice — Racial Justice means to reinforce policies, practices, actions, and attitudes that produce equal treatment and opportunities for all groups of people.
Reclaimed Language — Reclaimed Language is language that has traditionally been used to degrade certain groups, but members of the community have reclaimed and used as their own. For example, “queer” or “queen”.
Religion — Religion is a system of beliefs that are spiritual and part of a formal, organized institution.
Restorative Justice — Restorative Justice is an effort to repair the harm caused by crime and conflict related to bias or racism.
Reverse Racism — Reverse Racism is perceived discrimination against a dominant group or majority.
Roma Traveller — A recognized ethnic group in the UK under the Race Relations Act.
Diversity Terms Starting with S
Safe Space — Safe Space means a place people can be comfortable expressing themselves without fear as it relates to their cultural background, biological sex, religion, race, gender identity or expression, age, physical or mental ability.
Same-gender-loving (SGL) — A term coined by Cleo Manago, used by some who may not identify with the terms gay or lesbian but
engage in same-sex behavior.
Savant — A person who has special talents, usually in math, art, or music.
Scoliosexual (aka Scoliosexuality) — A person who is attracted to people who are transgender or nonbinary.
Segregation — Segregation is a systemic separation of people into racial or ethnic groups during the activities of daily life.
Self-stimulating/stimming — Behaviors used by people on the autism spectrum to assist with concentration or calming. (e.g., rocking back and forth, making noises, spinning, moving hands, or skipping)
Separation — Separation is when an individual or group rejects a host culture and maintains their cultural identity.
Sex — Sex, as it relates to diversity, means the biological classification of male or female based on the physical and biological features of a person. A person’s sex may vary from their gender identity.
Sexual Minority — A group whose sexual identity, orientation or practices are different from the majority of the surrounding society. Primarily used to refer to LGB or non-heterosexual individuals, it can also refer to transgender, non-binary or intersex individuals. Variants include GSM, GSRM, and GSD.
Sexual Orientation — Sexual Orientation refers to the sex(es) or gender(es) a person is connected to emotionally, physically, sexually, or romantically. Examples of sexual orientation include:
“Sexual orientation” is considered more politically correct thatn “sexual preference” since “preference” implies a conscious choice.
Sponsorship — Sponsorship is an action by allies that are taken to advance the career of members of marginalized groups. These may include mentoring, protecting, or promoting.
Stereotype — A Stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular group or category of people. A Stereotype represents the expectation that something is true about every member of that group.
Straight — Straight refers to a person who is attracted to a person of a different gender to their own.
Structural Racism — Structural Racism, sometimes called Institutional Racism, refers to institutional practices or policies that create different outcomes for various racial groups. The effects of Structural Racism usually create advantages for white people and oppression or disadvantages for people of color.
Diversity Terms Starting with T
TERFs — “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”, TERFs constitute “a minority of a minority of feminists,” says Grace Lavery, a UC Berkeley literature professor and writer.
Third Gender — Third Gender refers to a category of people who do not identify as male or female, but rather as neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.
Tokenism — Tokenism is a practice of including one or a few members of an underrepresented group in a team or company.
Tourette’s Syndrome — What is Tourettes syndrome? Tourette’s Syndrome is a condition that normally starts in childhood. It affects the brain and nerves, causing people to have uncontrollable motor or vocal tics.
Trans*/Trans+ — An umbrella term for a person whose gender identity is not the same as their assigned sex. Avoid the outdated phrases: transvestite and transsexual.
Transexual — a medical term used to refer to people who lived as their gender identity. It is not widely accepted by transgender people.
Transfeminine — Transfeminine describes a person who identifies as “trans” but identifies their gender expression as feminine.
Transgender — What do you call a man that becomes a woman? Or a woman that becomes a man? Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender expression or identity is different from their assigned sex at birth.
Transmasculine — Transmasculine means a person who identifies as “trans” but identifies their gender expression as masculine.
Transition/Transitioning — Transition, in terms of diversity, is a process that people go through to change their physical appearance or gender expression through surgery or using hormones to align with their gender identity.
Transphobia — Transphobia (or transphobic) means fear, hatred, or discrimination towards people who identify as Transgender.
Transvestite — A person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression. What is the politically correct term for a transvestite? The more politically correct term is “Cross-dresser”.
Triad of impairments — An autism theory that identifies neurological characteristics that affect communication, imagination, and social interactions.
Two-Spirit — Two-Spirit is a phrase that refers to a person who is Native American that embodies both masculine and feminine genders.
Diversity Terms Starting with U
Unconscious Bias — Unconscious Bias, also known as Implicit Bias, refers to attitudes or stereotypes about certain groups which are often based on mistaken or inaccurate information.
Underrepresented Group — An Underrepresented Group refers to a subset of a population with a smaller percentage than the general population. For example, women, people of color, or indigenous people.
Unity — Unity in Diversity is an expression of harmony between dissimilar individuals or groups. Who coined the term unity in diversity? Toppr.com says:
“The phrase ‘unity in diversity’ is coined by Jawaharlal Nehru.”
URM — Acronym for underrepresented minorities.
Diversity Terms Starting with V
Values Fit — Values Fit is being used in the place of Culture Fit to identify the connection of shared goals rather than viewpoints or background.
Diversity Terms Starting with W
White Privilege — White Privilege represents the unearned set of advantages, privileges, or benefits given to people based solely on being white.
White Supremacy — White Supremacy refers to the exploitation or oppression of nations or people of color by white people for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, privilege, and power.
Wimmin — Wimmin is a nonstandard spelling of the word “women” used by feminists in an effort to avoid the word ending “-men”.
(WLW) Women-Loving-Women: An umbrella term for lesbians, bisexual and pansexual women.
Womxn — Womxn is a term sometimes used to replace the word women in an attempt to get away from patriarchal language. Womxn is also meant to be inclusive of trans women, and some non-binary people, but it not always accepted. Some say the word has evolved over time and is divisive, and “women” is more inclusive in the LGBTQ+ community.
Womyn — Womyn is a nonstandard spelling of the word “women” used by feminists in an effort to avoid the word ending “-men”.
Workforce Diversity — Workforce Diversity means having a group of employees with similarities and differences like age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. During which era was the term workforce diversity first used? Workforce Diversity came into the business scene in the early 1980s.
Work-Life Effectiveness — Work-Life Effectiveness is a talent management strategy that focuses on doing the best work with the best talent regardless of the diverse aspects of individuals.
Workplace Inclusion — Workplace inclusion is an intentional effort to create an atmosphere of belonging where all parties can contribute and thrive regardless of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
Diversity Terms Starting with X
Xenophobia — Xenophobia is prejudice or a dislike for people from other countries.
Diversity Terms Starting with Z
Zi/Hir — Zi/Hir are gender-inclusive pronouns used to avoid relying on gender binary based language or making assumptions about people’s gender.
Shout-Outs to these Pros on Diversity Terms
In my research, I leveraged the awesome writings of these people and publications:
- Mark Peters of the Boston Globe for Womyn, wimmin, and other folx
- Paul McFredries (Writer, Coder, Runner, Baker, Human)
- Strategic Planning at Winston-Salem State University: Working Toward Equity
- What is Neurodiversity? (The National Symposium on Neurodiversity at Syracuse University), Neurodiversity Definition via Wikipedia
- Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions (by Dr. Nick Walker)
- What is Ableism? by stopableism.org
- What Is Marginalization & What Can You Do About It? (by Beth Castle)
- What Does ADA Stand For? (by abbrevations.com)
- About ADOS (by ADOS101.com)
- Indeed’s blog on What Is An Affinity Group? A Guide for the Workplace
- 12 Diversity & Inclusion Terms You Need to Know (by Catalyst)
- The University of Washington’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Glossary of Terms
- Diversity and Inclusivity Glossary of Terms (by Scripps College)
- An Incomplete Guide to Inclusive Language for Startups and Tech (by Courtney Seiter)
- Which is the correct term? Black vs. BIPOC vs. African American vs. POC vs. BAME (by Gabby Beckford)
- The Value of Belonging at Work (by Evan W. Carr, Andrew Reece, Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, and Alexi Robichaux)
- Christine Li’s article on Diversity Without Inclusion is Exclusion
- What Does It Mean to Be Non-Binary or Have Non-Binary Gender? (by Elizabeth Boskey Ph.D.)
- The Difference Between Hispanic And Latino (by Hispanic Network)
- Exploring Identity: Who are the Métis and what are their rights? (by Rhiannon Johnson)
- A Weatherhead Case Study on The Evolution and Future of Diversity at Work
- What is Racism? (by the Anti-Defamation League)
- Courtney Seiter’s blog on Why We’ve Stopped Saying “Culture Fit” and What We’re Saying Instead
- Alex Regan’s blog on Should women be spelt womxn?
- Queer Glossary (by Bowling Green State University)
- Who coined the phrase ‘Unity in Diversity’? (by toppr)
- Racial Equity Tools Glossary (by Racial Equity Tools)
- What “Cultural Add” really means in the World of Recruiting (+Why it’s so Important) (by wepow)
- Hive Learning’s A-Z D&I Glossary
- Karen (pejorative) (by Wikipedia)
- Alisha Ebrimiji’s article on San Francisco official proposes ‘CAREN Act,’ making racially biased 911 calls illegal
- AAVE (by dicitonary.com)
- GOV.UK Writing about Ethnicity Style Guide
- multi-ethnic Cambridge Dictionary
- Here’s an A-Z of all the LGBTQ+ words and phrases you need to know (by Elizabeth Train-Brown)
- What Does It Mean to Be Graysexual? Here’s How Experts Define This Sexual Identity (by Claire Gillespie)
- What Is Biromantic Asexuality? (by WebMD)
- What Is Skoliosexuality? (by WedMD)
- What You Need To Know About The Intersectional Term ‘Womxn’ (by Monica Karpinski)
- ‘Finna’ and ‘Chile’ added to Dictionary.com to reflect growing diversity (by Blue Telusma)
- Work It NYC, A Comprehensive Guide to LGBTQI+ Workplace Inclusivity (by NYC Unity Project)
- Sexual Minority (by Wikipedia)
What diversity terms did I miss?
I’m sure I missed some diversity words or fumbled a definition or two. Please comment below to chime in and help improve this list. Thanks for working together to create the largest and best diversity glossary on the planet!
Why I wrote this?
Our mission here at Ongig is to transform your job descriptions to attract top-tier and diverse talent. Our Text Analyzer software analyzes every word of your job descriptions to ensure they are inclusive to everyone. Diversity & Inclusion terms are an important piece of attracting diverse talent.