diversity, equity, & inclusion | An AACN Faculty Tool Kit


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Affinity Groups: An intentionally created space for those who share an identity to convene for learning, support, and connections.

Ally: Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways. Allies commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.

Antiracism: The work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach, and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.


Climate Survey: An assessment of the experiences and perceptions of diverse individuals on campus to inform policy, programing and help create an environment
where everyone feels safe, welcome, valued, and respected.

Colonization: Form of invasion, dispossession and subjugation of a people.

Critical Race Theory: Considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step by step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and principles of constitutional law.

Cultural Competence: Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. 'Culture' refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. 'Competence' implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities. (Adapted from Cross, 1989). Cultural competence requires that organizations:

  • have a defined set of values and principles, and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures that enable them to work effectively crossculturally 71
  • have the capacity to (1) value diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3) manage the dynamics of difference, (4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve.
  • incorporate the above in all aspects of policy making, administration, practice, service delivery, and involve systematically consumers, key stakeholders, and communities. Cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period. Both individuals and organizations are at various levels of awareness, knowledge, and skills along the cultural competence continuum

Culturally Sensitive: Health care that reflects “the ability to be appropriately responsive to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of groups of people that share a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage” (DHHS, OMH, 2001, p. 131)


Equity-Minded Learning: The characteristics of equity-mindedness are as follows: (a) being race conscious in a critical way, as opposed to color blind; (b) being cognizant of structural and institutional racism as the root cause of inequities as opposed to deficiencies stemming from essentialist perspectives on race or ethnicity; (c) recognizing that to achieve equity it may be necessary to treat individuals unequally as opposed to treating everyone equally; and (d) being able to focus on practices as the source of failure rather than student deficits. (Center for Urban Education)


First-generation Student: The student is the first person in their facility to attend a four-year college or university to attain a bachelor’s degree


Health Disparities: refers to a higher burden of illness, injury, disability, or mortality experienced by one group relative to another. A “health care disparity” typically refers to differences between groups in health insurance coverage, access to and use of care, and quality of care. Health and health care disparities often refer to differences that are not explained by variations in health needs, patient preferences, or treatment recommendations and are closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. The terms “health inequality” and “inequity” also are used to refer to disparities. Disparities occur across many dimensions, including race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, location, gender, disability status, and sexual orientation.

Health Equity: Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.” Health inequities are reflected in differences in length of life; quality of life; rates of disease, disability, and death; severity of disease; and access to treatment.

Holistic Admissions: “A flexible individualized way of assessing an applicant’s capabilities by which balanced consideration is given to experiences, attributes, and academic metrics.” It focuses on an understanding of the whole applicant as opposed to ranking applicants on their academic credentials.


Implicit Biases: Associations that are automatically expressed and which people unknowingly hold; also known as unconscious or hidden biases. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating realworld implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to be favored above individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that people may profess. https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2020/12/ifdhe_snapshot_survey_FINAL.pdf

Intergroup Dialogue: A model of social justice used to create opportunities for meaningful cross-group interaction. It teaches students, faculty, and staff to create meaningful relationships and dialogue among people from different social, economic, racial, and ethnic groups.

Intersectionality: Intersectionality is simply a prism to see the interactive effects of various forms of discrimination and disempowerment. It looks at the way that racism, many times, interacts with patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia — seeing that the overlapping vulnerabilities created by these systems actually create specific kinds of challenges (Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw).

Institutional Racism: Refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.


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

Minority-serving institutions (MSIs)

  • Designations are based on compositional diversity of the institution or specific institutional mission to serve a specific racial group
  • There are six categories of MSIs classified by the Higher Education Act
    • Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
    • Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)
    • Alaska Native Serving institutions (ANSIs)
    • Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions (NHSIs)

Mission Statement: communicates the organization's reason for being and how its serves its key stakeholders (purpose of being). Who are we? What does our organization value? It is longer than the vision statement? Stakeholders – students, faculty staff, government, and communities. The mission statement is longer than the vision statement and summarizes the organization's values.


Predominately White Institutions (PWIs)

  • Although not an official designation it is a term used to describe institutions of higher learning in which Whites account for 50% or greater of the student enrollment and whose histories, policies, and practices center the white majority

Privilege: Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g., white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we’re taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.


Social Determinants of Health: The conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Conditions (e.g., social, economic, and physical) in these various environments and settings (e.g., school, church, workplace, and neighborhood) have been referred to as “place.” In addition to the more material attributes of “place,” the patterns of social engagement and sense of security and well-being are also affected by where people live. Resources that enhance quality of life can have a significant influence on population health outcomes. Examples of these resources include safe and affordable housing, access to education, public safety, availability of healthy foods, local emergency/health services, and environments free of life-threatening toxins.

Understanding the relationship between how population groups experience “place” and the impact of “place” on health is fundamental to the social determinants of health— including both social and physical determinants.

Structural Determinants of Health: all the social and political mechanisms that generate stratification and social class divisions in society and that define individual socioeconomic position within hierarchies of power, prestige and access to resources. The structural determinants cause and operate through intermediary determinants of health—housing, physical work environment, social support, stress, nutrition and physical activity—to shape health outcomes (WHO, 2010). https://nccdh.ca/resources/entry/a-conceptual-framework

Systemic Racism: Racism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call "race"), which unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources. Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues/health-equity/racism-and-health


Values: belief of the organization’s emotional investment. Reaffirms the organization’s values not evident in the mission or vision statements. Roles of mission and vision- communicates the purpose of the organization to stakeholders, informs strategy development, and develop the measurable goals and objective to gauge the success of the organization’s strategy.

Vision Statement: is the future-oriented declaration of the organization's purpose and aspirations (based on the purpose; this is what we want to become). The vision statement answers the question of where the organization is going.

For more definitions on key terms related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, see the Racial Equity Tools Glossary.


References a broad range of individual, population, and social characteristics, including but not limited to age; sex; race; ethnicity; sexual orientation; gender identity; family structures; geographic locations; national origin; immigrants and refugees; language; physical, functional, and learning abilities; religious beliefs; and socioeconomic status.


Is the ability to recognize the differences in the resources or knowledge needed to allow individuals to fully participate in society, including access to higher education, with the goal of overcoming obstacles to ensure fairness.


Represents environmental and organizational cultures in which faculty, students, staff, and administrators with diverse characteristics thrive. Inclusive environments require intentionality and embrace differences, not merely tolerate them. Everyone works to ensure the perspectives and experiences of others are invited, welcomed, acknowledged, and respected in inclusive environments.