Why Diversity, Inclusion, And Equity Are Not Interchangeable?


Why Diversity, Inclusion, And Equity Are Not Interchangeable?

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity have been together for so long that some use them interchangeably thinking these words are synonyms, but many people have emphasized their difference too. Dr. Geraldine Cochran, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, in a post at Scholarly Kitchen, gave these 3 terms a quick acronym DIE (Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity).

Inclusion isn’t merely, the addition of people in an organization, it is what their inclusion in the organization means. Diversity and inclusive environments are 2 different things. The inclusion environment is the one where everyone, irrespective of their social identities has access to equal opportunities and advancement. Many individuals, have to face issues (as highlighted in the illustration in “The ‘Problem’ Woman of Color in the Workplace) in even the diversity-focused institutions, where the environment diverse but not inclusive leading to the exit of an individual from the organization. There should be a method to check inclusiveness and the climate of an organization. One way to increase diversity and improve inclusion is when organizations meet their diversity goals and ensure that all people in the organization can not only survive but also thrive.

Now coming to diversity without equity, equity is the reason why we need to diversity in the first place. Without overcoming inequality, it is impossible to fully diversity the institutions. Diversity calls for moving the marginalized group and supporting them to pursue their purpose and persist despite inequity, whereas, equity focuses on changing the system that creates inequities in the first place. Dr. Geraldine Cochran had been a part of “Inclusive Graduate Education Network” where she aimed to broaden participation in physics graduate education via research, program implementation, and dissemination of best practices in recruitment, admission, and retention.

To cover diversity and representation, recruitment and admissions were targeted, while inclusion was done by retention. Apart from improving strategies to recruit students from racial or ethical minorities, it is more important to understand and discourse those barriers that such students face.

Where the efforts are being made to prepare students who would not have been accepted into the graduate program, it is high time to think about why those students would not be accepted. It requires a deeper understanding of the faculty’s and student’s perspective in and about the admission processes, and to reconsider and improve the process.

It is vital to difference diversity, inclusion, and equity. The institutional or organizational environment should be made more inclusive, and proper efforts should be made to incorporate equity by program implementation or research. Though these issues are hard to tackle and will need many reforms at the individual and organizational level, they will help in constructing a more diverse and inclusive society that has equity in it.


Diversity, inclusion, equity, graduate admission, education, minorities, workplace.