Sharing a common language can help us avoid confusion and misunderstanding, especially if our different experiences cause us to interpret terms differently. Just talking about terms can start conversations or get people to share their ideas – an important step in creating welcoming and inclusive communities.
Terms to Get Started
Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. Celebrating diversity means understanding that each individual is unique, and these differences contribute to a vibrant community.
Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming community embraces human differences, sees them as strengths, and offers respect in both words and actions for all people.
Those who belong to the mainstream are regarded as conventional. The mainstream group is the “in-group” and they set the tone for a group or organization; The preference of the mainstream becomes the norms for the group. The mainstream may or may not be conscious of its role and higher status.
A marginalized person or group may be excluded, ignored, or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community. People are often marginalized in societies or communities because of structural inequality (see below). A person may be marginalized based on gender, skin colour, income level, education, age, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, immigration status, language, occupation, heritage or other factors.
Structural inequality occurs when the fabric of organizations, institutions, governments or social networks contain an embedded bias which advantages some members and marginalizes or disadvantages other members. This can involve property rights, status, or unequal access to health care, housing, education and other physical or financial resources or opportunities.
Structural inequality typically gives mainstream people an advantage over marginalized people.