Defining Terms

Bias (Implicit, Unconscious)

Automatic attitudes, preferences, or stereotypes we have learned that can unintentionally affect our decision-making and behavior towards others, often leading to exclusionary patterns

Cultural Inclusion

Indicates a commitment to creating an environment that supports, represents and embraces members of diverse social groups and identities; cultivated through congruent individual and institutional behaviors, attitudes, practices, and policies, thus creating a culture where all members feel that they belong

Often refers to organizational climate and the likelihood that an organization will be successful in retaining people from traditionally marginalized groups; tends to require a shift in most organizational cultures


The differential allocation of goods, resources and services, and the limitation of access to full participation in society based on an individual’s membership in a particular social category. (Three forms: individual, organizational and institutional). If Bias is a thought, idea, or attitude, Discrimination is the action taken based on the Bias.


Socially constructed differences based on social identities such as: race, gender, sexual orientation, and social class, among others; often refers to the representation of one group or groups in an organization

Environmental Justice

Understanding that climate change impacts marginalized communities first and worst, including land destruction, resource depletion, and forced migration (climate refugees)

Fair treatment and meaningful representation of marginalized communities in the development and implementation of environmental laws and policies, such as: land rights, access to healthcare, healthy food, healthy air, adequate transportation, and others


Taking into account the individual and ensuring each person or group has exactly what they need; this could include resources or access to resources.

The process of considering, inquiring, and challenging systems that maintain and perpetuate cultural inclusion for some, and exclusion for others, based on an institutionalized (often unwritten) cultural legacy of systematic discrimination


An approach largely advanced by women of color, arguing that classifications such as gender, race, class, and others cannot be examined in isolation from one another. They interact and intersect in individuals’ lives, in society, in social systems, and operate simultaneously to inform our experiences, the ways we perceive ourselves, and the ways we perceive others..


Microaggressions are unintentional slights, invalidations, or other behaviors that cause an exclusionary environment, especially for people who experience systemic discrimination. Long term, microaggressions can have a significant negative effect on one’s health and wellness.


Present moment awareness; an ancient eastern practice that encourages us to pay attention to this current moment rather than focusing on an individual’s past or future; has positive implications for health/wellness, self-empowerment, lowering implicit bias, culturally inclusive leadership, social and environmental justice

Mindful, Inclusive Leadership

Bringing mindfulness practices (present moment awareness) into our organizations can improve health/wellness, lower sick days, empower organizational members, lower implicit/unconscious bias, build a more culturally inclusive workspace. Mindful, inclusive leaders create spaces where all organization members feel like they belong and can soar. This has positive implications for innovation, collaboration, and an increased bottom line.


Systemic favoring, valuing, validating, and including of certain normative, or mainstream social identities over others; individuals cannot “opt out” of systems of privilege. Rather, these systems are inherent to the society in which we live. Therefore, our choices are whether or not to acknowledge privilege as it operates in our lives and whether or not to use our privilege as a means of creating social change.


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


The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power, by those who have relatively more social power. This subordination is supported by individual actions, cultural values and norms, and the institutional structures and practices of a society.

​​Social Identity

Membership in groups such as: race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, ethnicity, age, social class, religious or spiritual affiliation, among others; we all have multiple social identities that impact who we are, the decisions we make, and the lives we lead.

Social Justice

The goal of full and equal access and participation of all social and cultural groups in a society; a vision of society where all members are physically and psychologically safe and liberated

A few of the above definitions have been adapted from UCCS Knapsack Institute: Transforming Teaching and Learning.