We recognize this work is constantly evolving. As an organization, we aim to be active learners and adapt to the changing world and what is being asked of each of us. As we engage and educate ourselves on issues related to equity, we’ve aligned around common language to set a baseline for those discussions. We are doing this work to actively create a community in which all voices are represented - including yours - and all members’ identities and lived experiences are honored, respected, and reflected.
On an Outward Bound course, compassion and clear communication are central to effectively navigating the journey ahead. In an effort to ground our learning and actions, we are working under a shared understanding of the following language:
Equity: Ensuring everyone has access to the same opportunities and resources. In practice, it ensures everyone is given equal opportunity to thrive; this means that resources may be divided and shared unequally to make sure that each person can access an opportunity. Equity is therefore not the same thing as equality. The principle of equity recognizes the role of historic oppression in individuals’ access to resources and opportunities, and the systemic barriers that have prevented full participation from certain groups. It also acknowledges that past imbalances need to be addressed in order to provide effective opportunities for all groups in the future.
Inclusion: The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming environment embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.
Diversity: Race and ethnicity is only one way in which we are a diverse group. Diversity can be defined as the differences among us based on how we experience systemic advantages or barriers in access to opportunities and resources. There are countless visible and invisible facets of diversity. Furthermore, a person cannot be “diverse” (as in “diverse candidate”). Diversity is the outcome of inclusion and equity efforts and requires representation of people with unique identities, including intersections of age, ability, gender, race, socioeconomics, sexuality, and military status, to name a few.
Justice: Justice involves dismantling systems of oppression and privilege that create systemic disadvantages and barriers to people’s ability to access resources and opportunities (e.g., the “isms”) or based on which people experience systemic mistreatment. Whereas equity is about reapportioning or redistributing resources so people can access opportunities, justice is about dismantling barriers to those opportunities.
Intersectionality: A term coined by feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality originally was created to account for the ways in which black women experience both racism and sexism. The term has now expanded to account for the ways that an individual can experience multiple forms of oppression based on multiple marginalized identities. A salient quote on intersectionality is Audre Lorde’s quote “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
Identity: Identity is the compilation of identifying labels anyone uses to represent themselves; Also a system of identifying labels ascribed to social groups; gives a sense of belonging to the social world based on sameness to groups. Sex, gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, ability, religion, spirituality, age, socioeconomic status, language, political leanings, etc. are some examples. (source)
Identity-based harm: Hurt caused by behavior targeted at our identities; may affect our ability to thrive as well as our sense of safety and well-being. One example of identity-based harm can be microaggression.
Microaggression: A comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).
Allyship: Allyship is a philosophy rooted in action; it demands doing what is necessary to recognize and subvert systems of oppression. Allyship is a process, is based on trust and accountability, looks different for everyone based on your identities, experiences, and spheres of influence, and is not self-defined (i.e., you don’t get to label yourself as an “ally”). Recently, allyship has been critiqued as being too passive and replaced by accompliceship. For a more robust discussion of this topic, visit www.whiteaccomplices.org.