Cultural Competence & Diversity Terms


Diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural awareness are complicated topics. The words and phrases used by human resources professionals, social scientists, and culturally competent people can be confusing. It is important to understand them and learn more about these topics.

Here are a few frequently used terms. Check out the links to the glossaries for other diversity and inclusion terms.

Classism: Any attitude or institutional practice which subordinates people due to income, occupation, education, and/or economic status. Includes systems that keep certain communities within a set socioeconomic class and prevents social and economic mobility.

Culturally Competent: The ability to effectively and empathetically work and engage with people of different backgrounds and identities. Relevant to fostering respectful and inclusive environments in all fields of work and in social interactions.

Diversity: A multiplicity of individual and group characteristics, experiences, values, beliefs, among people. Refers to differences around nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, physical and mental abilities, socio-economic status, work experience, geographic location, religion, and organizational affiliations.

Economic Inequality: Differences in the systemic distribution and access to income, pay and wealth based on cultural and demographic groups.

Equality: Treating everyone the same and giving everyone the same opportunities regardless of their differences.

Equity: All people have access to an appropriate amount of relevant resources needed to achieve results equal to others.

Inclusion: Fostering an environment of involvement, respect, and connection where all individuals feel welcome to share their knowledge, strengths and cultural perspectives for the betterment of the organization.

Privilege: Power and advantages benefiting a group not based on individual merit, rather on systemic or organizational favor.

Racism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on difference in race or ethnicity perpetrated by organizations, systems or individual members of power groups.

Transgender: Umbrella term to refer to all people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the binary gender system.

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