What Is Social Equity?  Diversity?  Equity? Inclusion?  Accessibility?

Accepting that there are many definitions for these terms, we are choosing to use common definitions to focus our work. That does not mean others may not define things differently and we respect those definitions where they are found.

The HGF Center for Social Equity is guided by the following definition of social equity:

Social equity is the fair, just and equitable management of all institutions serving the public directly or by contract, and the fair and equitable distribution of public services, and implementation of public policy, and the commitment to promote fairness, justice, and equity in the formation of public policy.

Borrowing from our sister organization, NASPAA, we offer the following additional helpful terms:

  • Diversity is the representation of differences relating to social identity categories including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic class, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, and socioeconomic background, and those at the intersections.
  • Equity, in the context of DEI initiatives, refers to systems and practices that are fair and just, based on a recognition of individual differences and/or sociopolitical contexts that disproportionately advantage or disadvantage some people more than others. Equity is reflected in fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while simultaneously striving to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of some. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions, systems, and programs, as well as in the distribution of resources. 
  • Inclusion exists when everyone affected by a program, rules, processes or outputs have an opportunity to participate and contribute, and where all persons are invited and welcome. Inclusion requires intentional involvement of multiple and potentially divergent perspectives in a shared community of inquiry and engagement. 
  • Accessibility refers to populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life.