D&I Definitions

This is not a complete list of diversity and inclusion terms. There are many great resources. The Pride Resource Center at CSU also has a variety of great resources for students and those who identify in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Agency: Having, taking back, or exerting power or influence.

Ally: A person who supports marginalized, silenced, or less privileged groups without actually being a member of those groups. This person will often directly or indirectly confront systems of oppression.

At-Risk: Students or groups of students who are considered to have a higher probability of struggling academically or dropping out of school due to coming from social conditions that haven’t prepared them adequately or serve as hurdles in their way to success. Some challenges that at-risk students may face include poverty, homelessness, serious health issues, domestic violence, transiency, or learning disabilities.


Bias Incident: An intentional or unintentional act targeted at a person, group, or property expressing hostility on the basis of perceived or actual gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability. Bias incidents may consist of name-calling, epithets, slurs, degrading language, graffiti, intimidation, coercion, or harassment directed toward the targeted person or group. Acts qualify as bias acts even when delivered with humorous intent or presented as a joke or a prank.

Cisgender: A term used to describe people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Often abbreviated to cis.

Corporate Social Responsibility: (noun) Practicing good corporate citizenship by going beyond profit maximization to make a positive impact on communities and societies.

Discrimination: The intentional and often historical prejudicial treatment of individuals or groups of people using interpersonal, institutional, or cultural means.

Diversity: The presence of difference between and among communities. This can include but is not limited to: social identities (race, gender, religion, etc.), experiences, world views, values, and beliefs.

Emotional Tax: The combination of being on guard to protect against bias, feeling different at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity, and the associated effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work.

Equality: Treating everyone the same way, often while assuming that everyone also starts out on equal footing or with the same opportunities.

Equity: Working toward fair outcomes for people or groups by treating them in ways that address their unique advantages or barriers.

Implicit Bias: When subtle negative attitudes about groups of people (e.g. stereotypes) exist without conscious awareness. Nonetheless, they are pervasive and everyone possesses them regardless of a person’s good intentions. Implicit biases tend to manifest into negative, unjust, or harmful behaviors against individuals and groups.

Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement within the campus community to create a culture in which we treat each other with respect and take action to maximize the potential of all community members.

Inclusive Excellence: The recognition that a community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages, and includes the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni constituents.

Intersectional/ity: The acknowledgment that within groups of people with a common identity, whether it be gender, sexuality, religion, race, or one of the many other defining aspects of identity, there exist intragroup differences. In other words, each individual experiences social structure slightly differently because the intersection of their identities reflects an intersection of overlapping oppressions. Therefore, sweeping generalizations about the struggle or power of a particular social group fail to recognize that individuals in the group also belong to other social groups and may experience other forms of marginalization. Unfortunately, institutions and social movements based on a commonly shared identity tend to disregard the presence of other marginalized identities within the group.

Institutional oppression: Policies and practices of institutions that marginalize or subordinate.

Marginalized groups: Sub-communities socially excluded from participating in the routine and mainstream activities of a society. They often are confined to the lower or peripheral edge of a society thereby lacking access to employment, affordable formal education, healthcare, and social power, which often results in income discrepancies.

Minority groups: Categories of people who are differentiated from a social majority due to having less social power. They can sometimes be underrepresented in particular majors, careers, or societies but can also be in majority numerically and yet lack social power or the ability to influence. Historically, minority is often associated with people of color (e.g. Asians, Latinos, and Blacks) but it actually can be applied to other identities like gender, sexuality, and religion.

Monoracial: Of a single race (ethnicity).

Multiracial: A person who identifies as coming from two or more races; a person whose biological parents are of two or more different races.

Neurodiversity: The concept that there is great diversity in how people’s brains are wired and work, and that neurological differences should be valued in the same way we value any other human variation.

Non-Binary (also known as Genderqueer): Referring to individuals whose gender identity does not fit within the gender binary of man/woman. Not all non-binary people identify as transgender, and not all transgender people identify as non-binary.

Oppression: Restricted access to resources and marginalization and isolation based on social group membership.

People/Students of Color: Often the preferred collective term for referring to non-White racial groups. Racial justice advocates have been using the term “people of color” (not to be confused with the pejorative “colored people”) since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not White, to address racial inequities. While “people of color” can be a politically useful term, and describes people with their own attributes (as opposed to what they are not, e.g., “non-White”), it is also important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and may be more appropriate.

Privilege: An unearned benefit or right granted to a person based on membership in a particular social group.

Social Justice: A belief that all people should have access to resources for sustaining a healthy existence.

Socially constructed identity: Created for the purposes of categorizing people; based on beliefs about groups of people, not biology. Including, but not limited to, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religion.

Subordinated or Target group: Membership in a group that experiences oppression or marginalization in a mainstream society.

Structural oppression: “Cumulative and compounding effects of an array or societal factors, including the history, culture, ideology, and interaction of institutions and policies that systematically privileged some people and disadvantage others” (Keleher, 2011).

Unconscious Bias: (noun) An implicit association, whether about people, places, or situations, which are often based on mistaken, inaccurate, or incomplete information and include the personal histories we bring to the situation.

Work-Life Effectiveness: Noun: A talent management strategy that focuses on doing the best work at the best time with the best talent. It helps businesses create flexibility, enhance agility, and drive mutually beneficial solutions for both employers and employees.

Workplace Inclusion: An atmosphere where all employees belong, contribute, and can thrive. Requires deliberate and intentional action.