Inclusive Language Glossary


Based on a random choice or personal preference, rather than any reason or system.

Arbitrary Status Hierarchies

Status differences that are not based on actual differences in competence or ability, but on what someone happens to be born as (their gender, their race/ethnicity, their disability status).


The process in which a person or group’s language and/or culture come to resemble those of the dominant group present.


An official inspection of an individual’s or organization’s accounts.


Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared to another, usually in an inconsiderable and unfair way.

Bystander Intervention

The act of stepping in and correcting in the moment when a person of lower status is interrupted, talked over, disregarded, or ignored; it can be an act of speaking up on behalf of another person or insisting that someone be allowed to finish their thought, make their point, to be heard within a meeting, and so on.


The system of ordering a society in which people are divided into sets based on perceived social or economic status.


The ability and confidence to do something successfully or efficiently.

Cultural Awareness

The ability to be conscious and cognizant of similarities and differences between cultural groups.


A set of shared ideas, values, customs, traditions, beliefs, and practices shared by a group of people that is constantly changing, in subtle and major ways.

Culture Shock

The shock or impact of moving from a familiar culture or environment to one that is unfamiliar or new. Culture can occur in: cultural climate, language, social roles, behavioral norms, values, and relationships.


An individual’s sense of being detached from the work and being actively present; it’s characterized by being withdrawn, burned out, showing no effort, or going through the motions of work without giving oneself.


The forces that change or shake up uninviting ways of behaving, acting, and doing business; they interrupt the status quo; they force us into new ways of behaving.


The characteristics that describe differences among people; they included demographic characteristics, such as gender and race, ethnicity, age, national origin, religion, disability status, and sexual orientation, and deeper level characteristics, such as people’s personalities, their values, the things that they’re passionate about, and their personal interests.

Diversity Value Proposition

The idea that when you’ve got diverse members in a group, that diversity brings with it a collective of perspectives, experiences, beliefs, and values.


An individual’s sense of purpose and focused energy, evident to others in the display of personal initiative, adaptability, effort, and persistence directed organizational goals.


Relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.


A category that describes membership to a group based on real or presumed common ancestry, shared languages and/or religious beliefs, cultural heritage and group history.

External Motivator

Factors that influence behavior; people are influenced to behave a certain way not because of their own belief systems, but because they feel obligated to do so or they want to avoid embarrassment, punishment, or other negative consequences.

High Potentials

These are the employees who are considered “rising stars” within the organization. They have been identified as being on a leadership or growth track, and are considered among the most valuable employees.


A sense of self as to who a person or what a thing is: the qualities, beliefs, and characteristics. Identities can be easily seen and others can be internalized, which can be defined within agent and target interaction.


Rude or unsociable speech or behavior when interacting with someone or being present in an environment.


Embracing, leveraging, and celebrating the strengths of our diversity and ensuring all individuals feel welcomed and valued for who they are


Mental representation with directedness, aboutness, or reference to things, objects, states of affairs, or events.


The way in which a person or entity views, voices, and operates their opinion on the nuances of culture, based upon facets that make up who they are ethnically, religiously, politically, ect


Small, brief acts that affirm other people’s competence and value; in the workplace, they serve to acknowledge those who don’t enjoy the same privilege as all of their counterparts; examples include nodding your head in response to what someone is saying, backing someone up publicly when they offer an opinion or a suggestion, or giving someone your complete attention while they are speaking.


The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.


A system that maintains advantage and disadvantage based on social group memberships and operates, intentionally and unintentionally, on individual, institutional, and cultural levels.

Organizational Climate

Refers to the shared meaning that employees attach to the events, policies, practices, and procedures that they experience and what that communicates to them about the behaviors that they see as being rewarded, valued, supported, and expected within their organization.

Organizational Inclusion

Inclusion is a call to action within the workforce that means actively involving every employee’s ideas, culture, knowledge, perspective, approach, and style to maximize organizational success.


Making (something, typically an undesirable situation or an unfounded belief) continue indefinitely.


The ability to decide who and how someone will access resources; the capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others, oneself, and/or the course of events.


Negative belief or preference that is generalized to a group that leads prejudgement. Preconceived opinion; bias, either unconscious or conscious, allowed to influence decision making.


Unearned access to resources only readily available to some people as a result of their advantaged social group membership, ability, or experience.

Psychological Availability

A dimension which involves having the capacity to engage; it relates to an employee’s individual circumstances. It involves not just protecting employee’s efforts to renew personal energy through work-life balance, but also providing employees with the kind of learning opportunities and feedback that allow them to feel confident about investing themselves in their work.

Psychological Meaningfulness

This dimension is described as “haivng a reason to engage.” It relates to work elements; it means that employees believe their work is meaningful. It involves jobs with high “motivating potential” -challenging, meaningful, and provide oppertunities to autonomy, and involve specific and difficult goals. Employees’ natural tendency to reciprocate (i.e., principles of cosial exchange) is reinforced.

Psychological Safety

A shared belief that team members are safe for interpersonal risk taking and personal expression. Individuals within an organization should be able to show themselves and share their opinions without fear of negative consequences of status within the organization.


A socio-historical category used to divide people into identities and populations based on physical attributes, such as: skin color, eye color, or hair color.

Role Congruence

The types of characteristics assumed to be necessary for a job overlap with the attributes often associated with a particular demographic group, typically male dominated industries.

Role Incongruence

The types of characteristics that are assumed to be necessary for a job are at odds with the attributes often associated with a particular demographic group; the attributes assumed  to be necessary to be a leader, in particular, don’t overlap with the attributes that are often associated with women and members of other minority groups.


The brain’s organization system, and in each “folder” is the information collected about everything you think you know about the world.

Stretch Assignments

Assigned tasks and duties within the workplace that are meant for an employee’s growth and development; they are beyond the employee’s current level of performance; they are considered critical for accelerating advancement within an organization and carry weight.

Targeted Recruiting

Segmented and specific conditions expected of hiring applicants for work position openings.

Task-related Competencies

The ability of an individual to do a task or job properly and efficiently.

Unconscious Bias

Social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Snap judgments that results from the short cuts, or preexisting knowledge structures in our brains, that make us very efficient at interpreting incoming information quickly, below our level of conscious awareness, about what or who we see; these judgments tell us who or what is likeable, safe, valuable, right, or competent; they impact how we see people; they are influenced by society; they affect our objective observations.

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