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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Glossary

The Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion seeks to foster positive, productive collaboration among all members of a diverse Rice Business community. In order to ensure that every member of the community feels welcomed, valued and respected, we have compiled a glossary to identify a common vocabulary and promote dialogue around equity and inclusion. 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Ally

A person who takes action against oppression out of a belief that eliminating oppression will benefit members of targeted groups and advantage groups. Allies acknowledge disadvantage and oppression of other groups than their own, take supportive action on their behalf, commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of these groups, and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.

Anti-Racism

The work of actively opposing discrimination based on race by advocating for changes in political, economic and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, which is set up to counter an individual’s racist behaviors and impact.

Bias

A positive or negative inclination towards a person, group, or community; can lead to stereotyping.

BIPOC

An acronym for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. BIPOC is meant to emphasize the particular hardships faced by Black and Indigenous people in the US and Canada and is also meant to acknowledge that not all people of color face the same levels of injustice.

Cancel Culture

The practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.

Cisgender

A gender identity where an individual’s self-perception of their gender aligns with their perceived sex.

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.

Disability

Physical or mental impairment, the perception of a physical or mental impairment, or a history of having had a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Replaces the term Handicap or The Handicapped, which do not reflect the individuality, equality or dignity of people with disabilities

Discrimination

Unfavorable or unfair treatment towards an individual or group based on their race, ethnicity, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, socioeconomic status, education, sex, marital status, parental status, veteran’s status, political affiliation, language, age, gender, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Diversity

Psychological, physical, and social differences that occur among all individuals; including but not limited to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, and learning styles. 

Equality

Evenly distributed access to resources and opportunity necessary for a safe and healthy life; uniform distribution of access to ensure fairness.

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.

Feminism

Theory and practice that advocates for educational and occupational equity between men and women; undermines traditional cultural practices that support the subjugation of women by men and the devaluation of women’s contributions to society.

Gender Identity

A personal conception of one’s own gender; often in relation to a gender opposition between masculinity and femininity. Gender expression is how people externally communicate or perform their gender identity to others.

Gender Neutral

Used to denote a unisex or all-gender inclusive space, language, etc. Examples: a gender-neutral bathroom is a bathroom open to people of any gender identity and expression; gender-neutral job descriptions are used to attract qualified, diverse candidates.

Gender Expansive/Gender Non-Conforming

Used to describe those who view their gender identity as one of many possible genders beyond strictly man or woman. These individuals have expanded notions of gender expression and identity beyond what is perceived as the expected gender norms for their society or context. Some gender-expansive individuals identify as a man or a women, some identify as neither, and others identify as a mix of both.

Homophobia

A fear of individuals who are not heterosexual. Often results in hostile, offensive, or discriminatory action against a person because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer identified, or because they are perceived to be. These actions may be verbal or physical and can include insulting or degrading comments; taunts or ‘jokes’; and excluding or refusing to cooperate with others because of their sexuality.

Implicit Bias

Implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically and 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. Implicit biases may be held by an individual, group, or institution and can have negative or positive consequences.

Inclusion

The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.

Institutional Racism (Systemic Racism)

Refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for some and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as People of Color. 

Intent vs. Impact

This distinction is an integral part of inclusive environments; intent is what a person meant to do and impact is the effect it had on someone else. Regardless of intent, it is imperative to recognize how behaviors, language, actions, etc. affect or influence other people. An examination of what was said or done and how it was received is the focus, not necessarily what was intended.

Intersectionality

The ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.

Latino/a

Individual living in the United States originating form, or having a heritage relating to Latin America.

Latinx

A gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina.

LGBTQ+ (QIA)

Acronym for “Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (Questioning Intersex Allies).” The description of the movement expanded from gay and lesbian to LGBTQ+ and some include questioning, intersex, allies, same-gender-loving, asexual, pansexual, and polyamorous.

Marginalization

The placement of minority groups and cultures outside mainstream society. All that varies from the norm of the dominant culture is devalued and at times perceived as deviant and regressive.

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.

Neurodiversity

Refers to the variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions.

Oppression

The systemic and pervasive nature of social inequality woven throughout social institutions as well as embedded within individual consciousness. Oppression signifies a hierarchical relationship in which dominant or privileged groups benefit, often in unconscious ways, from the disempowerment of subordinated or targeted groups.

People/Person-First Language

Emphasizes the individuality, equality and dignity of people with disabilities. Rather than defining people primarily by their disability, people-first language conveys respect by emphasizing the fact that people with disabilities are first and foremost just that—people.

Performative Allyship

Is when someone from a nonmarginalized group professes support and solidarity with a marginalized group in a way that either isn’t helpful or that actively harms that group. 

Personal Gender Pronoun(s)

The pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual personally uses and would like others to use when referring to them. Replaces the term Preferred Gender Pronoun, which incorrectly implies that their use is optional.

Privilege

Power and advantages benefiting a group derived from the historical oppression and exploitation of other groups.

Queer

Term used to refer to people or culture of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. A term once perceived as derogatory is now embraced by some members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Race

A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the political needs of a society at a given period of time.

Stereotype

A positive or negative set of beliefs held by an individual about the characteristics of a certain group.

Transgender

An individual whose gender identity differs from the societal expectations of their physical sex. Transgender or “trans” does not imply any form of sexual orientation. 

Unconscious Bias

The subliminal tendency to favor certain people or groups of people based upon learned stereotypes. It can be interchangeable with the term “implicit bias” (Mercer). It refers to social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Underrepresented Minorities (Underrepresented Groups)

A group that is less represented in one subset (e.g., employees in a particular sector, such as IT) than in the general population. This can refer to gender, race/ethnicity, physical or mental ability, LGBTQ+ status, and many more.

Xenophobia

Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.


Terms and definitions are sourced from Sermount and DiversityInc.

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Seramount
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Diversity Inc