What Do We Mean by Diversity and Inclusion?
Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, and national origin.
Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. An inclusive community promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.
We can think of race in two ways. 1) Biological/genetic race: We all have different physical features and anthropologists’ original notions of race were based on these differences and the regions that they represent. Of course, in each of these geographical regions there are also people of other races. At the same time, DNA researchers have demonstrated that the differences between all of us are indeed minute–we share more than 99% of our genetic makeup.
2) Race as a social construct: It is also true that in many, but not all, cultures physical appearance does carry with it social meanings that can be either negative or positive. Socially constructed racial distinctions develop over long periods of time, just as do social perceptions of religion, language, family structures, or physical or mental challenges. They are learned behaviors, not genetic traits. Race as a social construct can have both positive and negative social constructs.
Gender/Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation Diversity
Sex and gender can be used in the traditional sense of male and female; however, as gender is increasingly redefined, the term “gender diversity” may be more appropriate, since there are multiple variations in gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Ability status refers to whether or not someone has a disability, physical or mental. While the terms “abled” and “disabled” are used to describe individuals, it is more acceptable to refer to someone “having a disability” or “not having a disability” rather than defining them by the disability.
Acceptance of all age groups is important for a variety of reasons. There are as many as five generations in some work and community environments, all providing a unique set of experiences, abilities, and viewpoints.
Religious diversity or pluralism is the belief that there are significant differences in religious and spiritual belief and practice among a community's members and that they are all equally important and valid.
Cultural diversity is the quality of diverse or different cultures, as opposed to monoculture, the global monoculture, or a homogenization of cultures, akin to cultural decay. The phrase cultural diversity can also refer to having different cultures respect each other's differences.