What does DEI stand for? What do equality, equity, inclusion, diversity … actually mean?

We are creating this page to help everyone navigate the DEI landscape.

Diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging etc. are terms on their own and are also frameworks when joined up together and depending on the letter combination emphasise more one area than another. Many nuanced definitions are out there for diversity, equality, equality and inclusion etc., unfortunately making it harder for everyone to clearly understand these terms, align and work together towards achieving similar goals. For example, equity and equality are not synonyms. Both words are often used interchangeably, when in reality, they mean different things and how they are implemented can result in different outcomes for underrepresented groups and individuals.

In addition, compared to the word “metallurgy” which will generally be looked at in a factual way,  all the terms here bring out emotions, feelings, past experience and bias in all of us. In light of this, IWiM is not generating it’s own definition nor deciding which one is right. However, you will see that there is common ground than can be found for each term.

Although in recent years, DEI as a framework has been called out by some as inefficient or criticised for philosophical or political reasons, it remains true that if organisations want to achieve a licence to operate they need to include the entire population. In mining specifically that means a corporate culture change, review of processes & policies as well as ensuring offices, minesites, labs and more offer safe and accessible physical and soft infrastructure to all. Being anchored and guided by diversity, equity and inclusion principles will help achieve this goal.

From a legislation angle, for the last 70 years, the UN and other international agencies have adopted several conventions which promote gender equality. These conventions have not been uniformly adopted by all countries. Legal frameworks around women’s rights as well as for protected characteristics like age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation vary by country.

In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals which we know as Sustainability Development Goals (SDG s). Especially SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG8 on decent work and economic growth  touch on gender. Many organisations use the SDG s as a framework to insert their DEI work as part of a holistic approach to sustainability. Voluntary Standards and other mandatory commitments are also pushing the agenda for gender balance, inclusive workplaces, respect at work and the removal of gender-based violence in any form.

Frequent Acronyms

  • D&I: Diversity & Inclusion
  • DEB: Diversity, Equity & Belonging
  • DEI: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • DEIB: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging
  • DIB: Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging
  • JEDI/EDIJ: Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
  • IDEA/DEIA/DEAI: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access

Good In-Depth Sources including analysis of equality vs equity: Oxford Review Guide | McKinsey | Forbes | International Women’s Day.Com

GlossariesDiversity for Social Impact DEI GlossaryEuropean Institute for Gender Equality’s GE Glossary & Thesaurus  | UNICEF Gender Terms

What can you do?

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, where you live, what you look like, what you believe, think or do, every human has the same value and is deserving of the same opportunities.

Creating a world that is fair for everyone is up to all of us. We can help by looking out for each other, showing one another respect, and thinking about the different ways others may experience the world.

Be curious, Be open, Be an ally!




Business Leadership Today: In DEI, belonging means the level of security and comfortability an employee feels at work when they are accepted, included, and supported. Feelings of belonging at work support engagement, high performance, and employee well-being and help teams build cohesion and achieve organizational goals.

Power to Fly: Belonging as a DEI definition is a purposeful, design-led workplace experience. It doesn’t just happen. It needs to be fostered. We define belonging as: A person’s perception of acceptance within a given group, including a work environment. Fostering belonging means that people of all backgrounds get a seat at the table and feel heard, seen, and recognized for their contributions.DEIB includes the belonging definition as part of an overall strategy to deepen inclusion and invite acknowledgement, acceptance, and authenticity for all in the workplace.

WorkHuman: At work, belonging takes the form of employees actively wanting to bring their true selves to work because they know it will be celebrated and admired. That’s what organizations should be striving for. Belonging at work can look like: Peer-to-peer recognition for unique contributions; Social opportunities to connect with colleagues; Frequent check-ins between leaders and employees. Each aspect of DEIB on its own is important, but business leaders need to be aware of how the four entities work together as one cohesive strategy. If one of these pillars fail, they all do.


Cornell University: The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of marginalized identities. Unfair treatment or consideration of a person based on their group, class, or identity rather than on individual merit.

UN Global Compact: According to Principle 6 of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, discrimination in employment and occupation refers to any distinction, exclusion or preference which has the effect of placing certain individuals in a position of exclusion or disadvantage in the labour market or the workplace because of their race, colour, religion, sex, disability, political opinion, national extraction, social origin or any other attribute which bears no relation to the job to be performed.


Built-In: Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting. In the workplace, that can mean differences in race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic class. It can also refer to differences in physical ability, veteran status, whether or not you have kids — all of those are components of diversity. Diversity in the workplace is important because with different backgrounds come different points of view, which ultimately leads to better ideas and solutions.

Paradigm: The variety of visible, invisible, inherited, attained, or chosen characteristics within a group. Diversity is a term that applies to groups, not individuals. While characteristics like ethnicity, race, or gender identity can sometimes be easy to see, many others are not or m,ore difficult at first sight like sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic background, neurodiversity, education level, disabilities (not all are visible!)

Wikipedia: Diversity refers to the presence of variety within the organisational workforce, such as in identity and identity politics. It includes gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, disability, class, age or opinion.[2][15]


There are many different examples of diversity:

  • Gender diversity is the composition of people (women, men, or non-binary)
  • Age diversity refers to the generations or mix of ages in a group of people
  • Ethnic diversity or Multiculturalism refers to the respect of different cultures, national traditions or backgrounds
  • Linguistic diversity: refers to the many different ways that people can speak and communicate with each other
  • Functional Diversity referring to special needs, disability, impairment and handicap
  • Neurodiversity refers to the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population (used especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorders)


Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.

Australian HR Commission: Equality is recognising that, as human beings, we all have the same value. This means, we all have the same rights, we should all receive the same level of respect, and have the same access to opportunities. This isn’t just a nice idea, there are actual laws supporting this.

Insight Global: Equality is the state of being equal in status, rights, and opportunities. This refers to making sure individuals or groups of people are given the same resources or rights to opportunities. Equality means that all employees are given equal benefits, standards, training, and opportunities in the business. Although this may appear to be a smart inclusion strategy at first glimpse, decision makers must recognise that not all employees start from the same situation.

IWD: Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.

Wikipedia: Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviours, aspirations, and needs equally, regardless of gender

Wikipedia: Gender equality is more than equal representation, it is strongly tied to women’s rights, and often requires policy changes. Gender equality is the goal, while gender neutrality and gender equity are practices and ways of thinking that help in achieving the goal. Gender parity, which is used to measure gender balance in a given situation, can aid in achieving gender equality but is not the goal in and of itself.



Australian HR Commission: Equity is about everyone achieving equal outcomes. We all have the same value and deserve a good life, but we all start from a different place. We are also all wonderfully different and experience the world in our own unique way. It’s because of these differences that we sometimes need to be treated differently for us all to live safely, healthily, happily…and equally! This means that we need to look at what individual people and communities need in order to achieve equity.

Built-In Equity is the process of ensuring that practices and programs are impartial, fair and provide equal possible outcomes for every individual. In order to ensure equal circumstances for all individuals across the organisation, equity requires that employers recognise barriers and advantages. Companies that establish equitable environments not only support diverse workforces, but also incentivise employees to invest more energy and passion into their positions.

Insight Global: Equity is defined as the quality of being fair or impartial and just. This refers to not only support and resources given to an individual but outcomes as well. Equality sets the foundation of creating an equal playing field while equity levels out the playing field by identifying disparities to ensure everyone has what they need to achieve success. All employees ought to experience empowerment and feel valued, respected and supported.Opportunities for advancement, training, further education, benefits, and more must be equally accessible to all individuals. Workplace equity comes when a company identifies an individual’s needs and obstacles based on ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity, disabilities, and other factors.

Paradigm: Equity is the process of accounting for how structural advantage or disadvantage shapes individual, group, or societal outcomes when distributing opportunities and resources.


Built-In  Inclusion is the practice of ensuring that people feel a sense of belonging in the workplace. This means that every employee feels comfortable and supported by the organisation when it comes to being their authentic selves. While the workplace does require professionalism and etiquette, an inclusive culture should not bar individuals from being themselves. Employees should not worry about code-switching or shielding part of their identity.” Inclusion is what maintains diversity.

Inclusion Me: Inclusion is seen as a universal human right. The aim of inclusion is to embrace all people irrespective of race, gender, disability, medical or other need. It is about giving equal access and opportunities and getting rid of discrimination and intolerance (removal of barriers). It affects all aspects of public life.

Paradigm: Inclusion is the result of an active effort to create the best environment for everyone, where they feel like they belong, and can do their best work.

Inclusive design: Inclusive design is about making places that everyone can use. The way places are designed affects our ability to move, see, hear and communicate effectively. Inclusive design aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities.

Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive Language


EIGE: Analytical tool for studying, understanding and responding to the ways in which sex and gender intersect with other personal characteristics/identities, and how these intersections contribute to unique experiences of discrimination. It starts from the premise that people live multiple, layered identities derived from social relations, history and the operation of structures of power. Intersectional analysis aims to reveal multiple identities, exposing the different types of intersectional and multiple discrimination and disadvantage that occur as a consequence of the combination of identities and the intersection of sex and gender with other grounds.

Britannica: Intersectionality emphasizes that different dimensions of identity are not isolated from one another; instead, they intertwine and overlap in intricate ways

Paradigm: a description of the unique experience of being at the junction of multiple identities.

Womenkind Worldwide: Intersectionality is the acknowledgement that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression and we must consider everything and anything that can marginalise people – gender, race, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc.


Marginalised Groups: are groups that are underrepresented, stigmatised, or otherwise undervalued in society. Many prefer to use the term underrepresented groups.


EIGE: Numerical concept related to gender equality. Gender parity concerns relative equality in terms of numbers and proportions of women and men, girls and boys, and is often calculated as the ratio of female-to-male values for a given indicator. When males-to-females ratios are calculated instead, the label ‘sex ratio’ is used instead of ‘gender parity’. In the context of gender equality, gender parity refers to the equal contribution of women and men to every dimension of life, whether private or public.

Wikipedia: the terms gender parity and gender equality are sometimes used interchangeably but gender parity differs from gender equality in that it is a descriptive measure only and does not involve value judgements or argue for policy changes in the way gender equality. Gender parity is a goal of substantive gender equality, but not of formal gender equality.[2] Gender parity may be one of the important metrics used to assess the state of substantive gender equality within a group or organisation.


Privilege: a set of special rights, advantages, or immunities accorded to a particular group.

Positive Action

Equality & Human Rights Commission: Positive action is about taking specific steps to improve equality in your workplace. For example, to increase the number of disabled people in senior roles in which they are currently under-represented. It can be used to meet a group’s particular needs, lessen a disadvantage they might experience or increase their participation in a particular activity. It is voluntary

Wikipedia: refers to a set of policies and practices within a government or organization seeking to benefit marginalized groups. Historically and internationally, support for affirmative action has been justified by the idea that it may help with bridging inequalities in employment and pay, increasing access to education, and promoting diversity, social equity and redressing alleged wrongs, harms, or hindrances, also called substantive equality.[8] The nature of affirmative-action policies varies from region to region and exists on a spectrum from a hard quota to merely targeting encouragement for increased participation. Some countries use a quota system, reserving a certain percentage of government jobs, political positions, and school vacancies for members of a certain group. In others, minority-group members are given preference or special consideration in selection processes.

Racism: is the variety of practices, beliefs, social relations, and phenomena that work to reproduce a racial hierarchy and social structure that yield superiority, power, and privilege for some, and discrimination and oppression for others.