In Diversity Management many terms are used regularly, but not everybody knows what they actually mean. Here we provide a list of definitions (source: ongig) which you might hear when talking about "diversity". If you can't find a term which you think should be here - please contact us at!

Diversity Glossary


Accessibility is the term for making a facility usable by people with disabilities. Examples of accessibility include self-opening doors, elevators for multiple levels, raised lettering on signs and entry ramps.


Androgyne is a term for a person identifying or expressing gender outside of the gender binary.


Anti-Racism means to actively oppose racism by advocating for political, economic, and social change.


An “asexual person’ is used to describe people who do not experience sexual attraction.


Assimilation is a term for the concept where an individual, family, or group gives up certain aspects of their culture to adapt to the beliefs, language, patterns, and behaviors of another group of people.


Belonging is a term used to define the experience of being accepted and included by those around you. Belonging means to have a sense of social connection and identification with others.


Bias means to have a prejudice against groups that are not similar to you or to show preference for people that are similar to you.


Bicultural is a term that refers to people who possess the values, beliefs, languages, and behaviors of two distinct ethnic groups.


Bigotry means to glorify a person’s own group and have prejudices against members of other groups.


The BIPOC acronym stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color.

Birth Assigned Sex

Birth Assigned Sex refers to a person’s biological, hormonal, and genetic composition at the time of their birth.


Bisexual, commonly known as Bi, is a term for individuals who are attracted to people of two genders.


Black means to be related to people who have ethnic origins mostly in Africa.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter is a movement that addresses systemic racism and violence against African Americans and other groups with ties to Black culture.

Cisgender (CIS), Cissexual

Cisgender means a person whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. The abbreviation for Cisgeneder is CIS.


Code-switching means when a person changes the way they express themselves culturally and linguistically based on different parts of their identity and how they are represented in the group they are with.

Coming Out

Coming Out is a phrase used to define the process of making others aware of one’s sexual orientation, and is also known as Coming Out of the Closet.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility means to practice positive corporate citizenship to make a positive impact on communities, not just focusing on maximizing profits.


Cross-Dresser refers to people who wear clothing that is traditionally associated with a different gender than the one they identify with.

Cultural Identity

Cultural Identity means the identity or feeling of belonging to a group based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality, or other types of social groups that have their own distinct culture.


Disability is a term used to describe people who have a mental or physical impairment which has a long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. The more inclusive, less biased term to describe someone who is "disabled" would be “person with a disability". The‘social model’ of disability argues that it is in fact external disabling and discriminatory factors that are limiting the life chances of those with impairments: While an impairment (for example, being partially sighted) is a given, the disability (such as communication or mobility problems) is not necessarily a given.


What is Discrimination? Discrimination is a term used to describe the unequal treatment of individuals or groups based on ethnicity, gender, social class, sexual
orientation, physical ability, religion, national origin, age, physical or mental abilities, and other categories that may result in differences.


Diversity is defined as individual differences between groups based on such things as:

  • abilities
  • age
  • disability
  • learning styles
  • life experiences
  • neurodiversity
  • ethnicity
  • class
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • country of origin
  • cultural, political or religious affiliation
  • any other difference

Popular synonyms are “mixture”, “variance”, “difference”, and “un-alike”.


The term “equality” (in the context of diversity) is typically defined as treating everyone the same and giving everyone access to the same opportunities. It is sometimes used as an alternative to “inclusion”.


Gay is an umbrella term used to refer to people who experience a same-sex or same-gender attraction. Gay is also an identity term used to describe a male-identified person who is attracted to other male-identified people in a romantic, sexual, and/or emotional sense.


Gender is a term used to describe socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that society considers “appropriate” for what are thought to be "men" and "women". It is separate from ‘sex’, which is the biological classification of male or female based on physiological and biological features.

Gender Binary

Gender Binary is a term used to describe the classification system consisting of two genders, male and female.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender Dysphoria is a phrase used to describe a feeling of discomfort that occurs in people whose gender identity differs from their birth assigned sex.

Gender Fluid

A person who is gender fluid changes their gender over time or may switch between dressing as what is considered to be "male" or "female" day-to-day.

Gender Identity

Gender Identity means a person’s perception of their gender. Gender Identity may or may not correspond with their birth assigned sex.

Gender Neutral

Gender Neutral, or Gender Neutrality, means that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles based on sex or gender in order to avoid discrimination.

Gender Role

A Gender Role is a socially assigned expectation or cultural norm related to behavior, mannerisms, dress, etc. based on gender.


Heteromnormativity is the assumption that heterosexuality is natural, ideal, or superior to other sexual preferences. Examples of Heteronormativity include:

  • the lack of same-sex couples in media or advertising
  • laws against same-sex marriage


Heterosexual a term used to identify a female-identified person who is attracted to a male-identified person, or a male-identified person who is attracted to a female-identified person.


Homophobia means to have an irrational fear or intolerance of people who are homosexual or having feelings of homosexuality.

Implicit Bias

Implicit Bias, or hidden bias, refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect a person’s understanding, actions, or decisions unconsciously as it relates to people from different groups. Also known as Unconcious Bias.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is common in members of underrepresented groups but can happen to anybody. Imposter Syndrome is present when high-achieving individuals are in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud and are unable to internalize their accomplishments.


The term Inclusion refers to the process of bringing people that are traditionally excluded into decision making processes, activities, or positions of power. Inclusion is sometimes called Inclusiveness and allows individuals or groups to feel safe, respected, motivated, and engaged.

Inclusive Language

Inclusive Language refers to the use of gender non-specific language to avoid assumptions around sexual orientation and gender identity.


Integration is when an individual maintains their own cultural identity while also becoming a participant in another culture.


Intersex means to be born with a combination of male and female biological traits.


Lesbian is a term that refers to a female-identified person who is attracted emotionally, physically, or sexually to other female-identified people.


Abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (often used to encompass sexual preference and gender identities that do not correspond to heterosexual norms).

LGBT is an acronym with multiple variations such as:

  • LGBTQ — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning).
  • LGBTQIA — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies).
  • LGBTA — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and asexual/aromantic/agender.
  • LGBTIQQ — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Questioning.
  • LGBTQ2+ — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or sometimes questioning), and two-spirited. The “+” signifies a number of other identities and is used to keep the abbreviation brief when written out. Some write out the full abbreviation which is LGBTTTQQIAA.


Mansplain is a word used to describe when men are explaining something to a person in a condescending or patronizing manner, typically a woman.


The preferred term for a gender-neutral person is Non-Binary. Non-Binary is a term used to describe people who identify with a gender that is not exclusively male or female or is in between both genders.

People of Color, POC

People of Color, or Person of Color, is a phrase used to describe people who share a common experience of racism.


The term Queer is an umbrella term that allows non-heterosexual people to identify their sexual orientation without stating who they are attracted to. The term Queer includes gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people.


Racism is the oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that gives privilege to white people.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation refers to the sex(es) or gender(s) a person is connected to emotionally, physically, sexually, or romantically. Examples of sexual orientation include:

  • gay
  • lesbian
  • bisexual
  • heterosexual
  • asexual
  • pansexual
  • queer
  • homosexual

“Sexual orientation” is considered more politically correct thatn “sexual preference” since “preference” implies a conscious choice.


Straight refers to a person who is attracted to a person of a different gender to their own.

Structural Racism

Structural Racism, sometimes called Institutional Racism, refers to institutional practices or policies that create different outcomes for various racial groups. The effects of Structural Racism usually create advantages for people who are defined as "white" and oppression or disadvantages for people of color.

Third Gender

Third Gender refers to a category of people who do not identify as male or female, but rather as neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

Trans*/Trans+, Tansgender

An umbrella term for a person whose gender identity is not the same as their assigned sex. Avoid the outdated phrases: transvestite and transsexual.


A person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression. The more politically correct term is “Cross-dresser”.

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious Bias, also known as Implicit Bias, refers to attitudes or stereotypes about certain groups which are often based on mistaken or inaccurate information.

White Privilege

White Privilege represents the unearned set of advantages, privileges, or benefits given to people based solely on being considered "white".


Zi/Hir are gender-inclusive pronouns used to avoid relying on gender binary based language or making assumptions about people’s gender.

Find out more about diversity terms at!