The Oxford Dictionary of English defines ‘diversity’ as the state of being diverse and ‘diverse’ as showing a great deal of variety; very different.

Yet, even without a qualifier such as ‘cultural’ diversity, the word is often used in a non-diverse way, and limited to ethnicity. Very often diversity conferences and awards focus solely on heritage and ethnicity, therefore excluding the very people whom they should be including.

The same is true of the terms inclusion and equality. The use of the word inclusion is often interpreted to mean inclusion of disabled children, and equality to mean gender equality. Even if it were appropriate to use these definitions for these distinct groups, other areas of diversity would still be omitted.

When I talk about diversity, inclusion or equality, I’m referring to diversity in ability, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family make-up and socio-economic environment, as well as heritage and culture. 

Let’s start thinking more diversely about diversity and, when we intend to be more limited in our approach, use qualifiers to clarify exactly the area of diversity to which we are referring.

Definitions from the Oxford Dictionary of English. Second Edition, revised.

Diversity - the state of being diverse; a range of different things.

Equality - the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities,

Inclusion - the action or state of including or being included within a group or structure,