The Equity Audit and Equity Lens Map are two assessments that help organizations identify strengths and needs in operationalizing their commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  While respondents are not required to have any expertise in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion to complete the Equity Audit and Equity Lens Map, we find that it is helpful for them to have some familiarity with key terms.  Where relevant, we reference the specific definition from sociologists who have coined or codified this vocabulary. The online tools include links and reference to the following terminology and definitions.


Demographic diversity prioritizes socio-economic, race, ethnicity, linguistic, sex, age, disability, nationality, migrant status, and homelessness as federally-reported data. Demographic diversity should also include gender, sexual orientation, religion, undocumented status, geography and other self-reported identity markers.

Racialized (people)

from Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre

Historically, it has been white people who hold the social,  political, and economic power to name and categorize people of colour and Indigenous peoples according to white people's categories of race.  As a result, in popular, dominant discourse, the word race has typically been used to refer to people of colour and Indigenous people (i.e., people who were seen by white people as "not like us"/not white).  White-skinned people doing the naming/categorizing often categorize themselves as white or Caucasian (and therefore, superior) or they may think of themselves as "raceless" and "normal." This "normalcy" is defined by the assumed "otherness" or "abnormality" of people of colour.  In either case, the position of "white" has remained dominant and self-sustaining.

Marginalized (people)

from Syracuse University

Marginalization is the process of pushing a particular group or groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place in it. Through both direct and indirect processes, marginalized groups may be relegated to a secondary position or made to feel as if they are less important than those who hold more power or privilege in society.

Systemic (levels of oppression & change)

When the laws of a country, society, or company are deeply entrenched to favor one population over all others.  For example, systemic racism favors white populations in economics, banking, housing , education access etc. Systemic change requires changing each of the implicated systems, policies, and practices.  

Institutional Bias vs. Interpersonal Bias

Institutional bias refers to ways that a company’s policies and practices privilege some groups over others, regardless of who implements them.  Interpersonal bias refers to ways that an individual experiences and implements their actions, regardless of the company’s policies.


Coined by Dr. Charles M. Pierce in the 1970s, microaggression refers to “subtle, stunning, often automatic, and non-verbal exchanges which are ‘put downs’” directed to black americans.” Microaggressions fall short of overt and deliberately hostile racism.

Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threat refers to being at risk of self-characteristically confirming a negative stereotype about one's social group. People challenged with stereotype threat recognize that there are negative expectations placed on them. (Steele & Aronson, 1995)


Belongingness is a universal need to be a part of a group by forming strong, stable interpersonal relationships.  In this work, belongingness refers to two schools of thought: Baumeister and Leary’s work that belongingness increases motivation and performance outcomes, and john a. powell’s work that belongingness is the manifestation of inclusion and shared humanity across perceived differences.  


Socio-economic status (wealthy, upper income, middle income, working class, lower income, below poverty line, extreme poverty, etc.)


Minority Owned Business Enterprise: 51% of business is owned or controlled by a racial or ethnic minority.  This typically means Asian, Black, Hispanic, East Asian Indian and Native American.


Disadvantaged Business Enterprise: 51% of business is owned or controlled by a socially or economically disadvantaged person.  The US Small Business Administration defines disadvantaged as women, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian-Pacific Americans.  Certain persons with disabilities may apply for determination as well.


Suggesting or believing that all relationships conform to heterosexual practices.  For our purposes, heteronormative policies, practices, and decision-making establishes traditional heterosexual coupling as the basis for work life expectations.


Cisgender is a term for people whose gender matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.

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