Glossary of Terms: Equity, Diversity, Inclusion

Below is a Glossary of Terms curated by Umberin Najeeb, Vice-Chair, Culture and Inclusion. We encourage all our faculty and learners to take some time to review these terms and join us as we work towards deeper understanding of our history, differences, and how to achieve inclusion. 

Diversity: the demographic mix of the university community and involves recognizing and respecting everyone’s unique qualities and attributes, but focuses particularly on groups who remain under-represented at U of T (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion | VPRI, n.d.).

Inclusion: the creation of an environment where everyone feels welcome and respected, focusing on groups that remain underrepresented at U of T. It means creating the conditions in which everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in the University and everyone’s talents are valued and celebrated (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion | VPRI, n.d.).

Equity: the fair and respectful treatment of all people and involves the creation of opportunities and reduction of disparities in opportunities and outcomes for diverse communities. It also acknowledges that these disparities are rooted in historical and contemporary injustices and disadvantages (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion | VPRI, n.d.).

Health equity is achieved when people are able to reach their full health potential, and receive high-quality care that is fair and appropriate to them and their needs, no matter where they live, what they have or who they are. (Health Quality Ontario)

Intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and independent systems of discrimination or disadvantage (Crenshaw - 2013)

Reflexivity: Understanding one’s own tacit assumptions and privileges. For example, those normalized by one’s living situation, socio-economic status, historical and political context, lived experience, and world view. Often achieved via close-looking at, and close-describing of, one’s own beliefs, emotions, and behaviours through activities such as reading, writing, and talking with mentors and peers

Cultural Safety:  “health-care providers must take into consideration the social, political, linguistic, economic and spiritual realm in which their patient or client lives in order to communicate competently with him or her…” RCPSC, 2011

Allyship: A commitment and effort to recognize privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice.

An ally is someone who is not in the group experiencing discrimination. An ally supports the rights of marginalized people and acts when people face discrimination. Depending on the situation, we can be an ally to someone or may need an ally ourselves.

Power: Having influence or control over the beliefs, behaviours, and values of individuals, groups, and/or institutions (with or without their awareness or resistance)

Privilege: The ways in which individuals and populations experience unearned advantage as a result of membership in a particular group or having a particular identity or experience.

Oppression (1): The use of power or privilege by a socially, politically, economically, culturally dominant group to take away power and silence one social group or category. Note that anti-oppression seeks to recognize this oppression and mitigate its effects to equalize power imbalance in our communities.

Oppression (2): the systemic misuse of power – Oppression enables dominant groups to exert power and control over target groups by limiting rights, freedom, access to resources and information, and in other ways.

Note that anti-oppression seeks to recognize this oppression and mitigate its effects to equalize power imbalance in our communities.

Anti-oppression: The lens by which we see power, privilege and oppression recognizing their various manifestations and seeking to mitigate these structures with a goal towards equity or social justice.

Justice: the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, equity and fairness

Social justice refers to the distribution of social and economic resources of society for the benefit of all people

Marginalized: A social process by which individuals or groups are distanced from access to power and resources and constructed as less valuable/privileged to a community or society

Racialized: The process of designating individuals as being of a particular group or “race” and on that basis, subjecting them to differential and/or unequal treatment.

Harassment: “engaging in a course of vexatious [annoying or provoking] comment or conduct which is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.” (Ontario Human Rights Code)

Interpersonal Discrimination: “Treating someone unfairly by either imposing a burden on them, or denying them a privilege, benefit or opportunity enjoyed by others, because of their race, gender, citizenship, family status, disability, sex and/or other personal characteristics” (Ontario Human Rights Commission)

Discrimination: a particular form of mistreatment, and there are potential legal consequences for engaging in discriminatory speech/acts

Systemic or institutional discrimination consists of attitudes, patterns of behaviour, policies or practices that are part of the social or administrative structures of an organization or sector, and that create or perpetuate a position of relative disadvantage for groups covered under the Code

Implicit Bias include attitudes or behaviors that exert powerful influence over individuals outside their awareness. These implicit biases can perpetuate health disparities by widening inequities and decreasing trust between patients and health professionals. (Javeed Sukhera 2019)

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