Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Concept Vocabulary: Diversity and Inclusion Related Words

I see Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) work to be culture work. Like setting the culture you want for your startups, you must be deliberate and start early if you want diversity and inclusion in your organization. Culture work require a certain level of common grounds and language for robust communication of ideas. Racial and  socio-economic divide, gender power challenges have led our communities to shy away from verbal expression on those topics in the fear of violating political correctness. What we need, however, is more exploration. Coining words can establish the concept as real, and the use of those concept words can help others see what they didn’t before.

I’ve been collecting D&I related terms, as I use them as a basis for D&I workshops and training. Learning the words alone won’t get you the whole culture, but it’s a good starting point.

Here is an evolving list of both commonly used terms and concepts, and ones I’m trying to popularize! I have noted where I have already used or defined the term in my blogs.


Terms often confused or used interchangeably (rightly or not)

• Diversity vs. Inclusion (and belonging)

• Equity vs. Equality

• Race vs. Ethnicity

• Minority vs. Underrepresented groups

Hispanic vs. Latinx

• Mentor vs. Sponsor (Ally, Co-conspirator)

• Non-white vs. People of color

• Black vs. African American


Terms having to do with other categorizations

• Intersectionality

• Gender identity (binary, gender queer, transgender cisgender)

• Model minority

• Token

• Disabled vs. Handicapped


Terms I find myself frequently using

• Cultural fit vs. Cultural knit

Holding space

• Political Capital

• Diversity Tax


Terms that describe states of being

(White) Privilege (full blog post)

• System of oppression

• White supremacy

• Glass ceiling

• Glass cliff

• Bamboo ceiling

• Color/Race blind vs. color/race silent

Secondary trauma


Terms that label behaviors

Hold space

• Microaggression/Microracism

• Mansplain

• Hepeat

• Dog whistle

• Gas light

• White tears


Other terms I often use as a metaphor

• Curb cuts


Photo: Chihuly sculpture at Boston Fine Arts Museum

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This entry was posted on October 3, 2018 by in Uncategorized.
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