What Are Diversity and Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging?

Diversity and inclusion are concepts that most people know, but equity and belonging are becoming more prevalent. So, what do they all mean?

There’s a bright light shining on diversity and inclusion (D&I) these days. Hiring teams everywhere are looking for ways to improve diversity at their organizations. But what exactly are diversity and inclusion? Also, what are belonging and equity? The differences are subtle between these related concepts, but the differences are there. And although we pair diversity and inclusion together most frequently as D&I, that may change. 

We’re constantly learning more about the impact of systemic inequality in employment. As our understanding grows, the terms we use to describe concepts will change. D&I is the prevalent term at the moment, but DEI and DIB are becoming more prominent by the day. We may end up landing on DEIB in the end, but only time will tell. Here’s a quick overview of these terms.

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

– Vernā Myers

What is diversity?

Diversity is the demographic makeup of your workforce. The unique aspects that make one person different from another person is diversity. Whether it’s gender, ethnicity, physical ability, age, national origin, socioeconomic background, religion, or anything else. Or a combination of any of those aspects (known as intersectionality). 

Diversity is the end goal of all D&I efforts, more of a byproduct than a driver of change. However, it’s likely that a diverse workforce may have an impact, making candidates from historically underrepresented groups more comfortable applying. In that case, the candidate knows they won’t be the first person like them through the door or the first unique person through the door. 

Theoretically, an international company’s workforce should mirror the global workforce. A national company’s workforce should mirror the country’s workforce. And a local company’s workforce should mirror the local job market. 

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is the environment you foster for candidates and employees. An inclusive workplace is one where all candidates and employees feel welcome. It provides all candidates with equal opportunities for employment, success in the job, and advancement within the organization. 

At Datapeople, we believe that inclusion is the most important factor in D&I efforts. Inclusive hiring processes will naturally yield more diverse workforces. Inclusive employment policies will naturally yield happier, more successful employees of all demographics. Inclusion is the foundation upon which you build all diversity efforts. 

What is equity?

Equity is the leveling of an uneven playing field. It means providing everyone with equal access to opportunity, although it doesn’t mean giving everyone the same level of help. Why? Because if everyone was playing on an equal field, there would be no reason to adjust for inequity in the first place. 

A candidate or employee from a historically underrepresented group isn’t playing on the same level as someone from a historically overrepresented group. Giving equal help to both groups just perpetuates the unequal dynamic. But giving a little more help to the candidate or employee from the underrepresented group can put them up on the same level.

“It’s not about everybody getting the same thing. It’s about everybody getting what they need in order to improve the quality of their situation.”

– Cynthia Silva Parker

What is belonging?

Belonging is the emotional state that is the goal of D&I efforts. Your organization’s inclusive processes are there to make everyone feel welcome. For someone to feel truly welcome, they need to feel welcome exactly as they are. They shouldn’t have to consciously (or unconsciously, for that matter) check a part of themselves at the door. Everyone should be happy to have them there, as is.

Going back to the quote above where diversity is getting an invite and inclusion is being asked to dance. Perhaps belonging is feeling comfortable enough to ask someone else to dance. (There are other extensions of this metaphor out there, and you can probably come up with one on your own as well.)

Diversity and inclusion, equity, and belonging

Will we land on DEIB as the final acronym to call the concept we now refer to mostly as D&I? Who knows. What’s not in question, though, is the recruiting industry’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. And as long as the commitment is there, we should keep moving forward on it. Regardless of how we end up referring to it.

Charlie S.

Charlie S.

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