Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Value the benefits of a diverse range of perspectives, lived experiences, and ways of thinking. Support and promote the voices of others during discussions. Collaborate successfully with cross-disciplinary and intercultural groups. Recognize bias and discriminatory behaviour in order to be an agent of change.


Jump to section: Understanding Equity, Diversity & Inclusion | Cultivating Cultivating Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion | Quick Guide to Promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion | Taking Action | ResourcesReferences


Understanding Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

While humanity has accomplished significant social progress in recent decades, from decreasing poverty to providing more widespread healthcare and education, this progress remains uneven. Social and economic injustice persists at both the global and the local community levels, due to marginalization and discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, and sexual orientation. [1]

At the micro-level of a community or a team, the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion are intertwined; they are defined by the process of improving the terms of participation (inclusion), and promoting and integrating various perspectives and experiences that are typically underrepresented (diversity), in order to attain fair access to opportunities (equity). More broadly, we must remember that equity, diversity, and inclusion are responses to inequity, homogeneity, and exclusion, which has resulted in unfair access and distribution of resources and support.


While equality focuses on equal treatment, equity recognizes that in order to overcome pre-existing barriers, different levels of support are required so that every member of the community has fair access to opportunities and resources. In other terms, equity requires different treatments to address and ideally so that the access can be more equalized [2][3equitable access to jobs is promoted through a governmental or organizational Employment Equity Act.  

In Canada, the Employment Equity Act aims to achieve equality and fairness in the workplace by applying principles of equity, such as providing adequate work accommodations, to ultimately correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. [4] Learn more about McGill’s approach to employment equity


Diversity refers to the presence of difference within any collection of people; the focus is on the group, not merely individuals. [5] Some examples of the various dimensions of diversity include: gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, culture, ability, and socioeconomic status; this is not an exhaustive list. To learn more about the dimensions of diversity, check-out the Equity at McGill definitions webpage.  

Diversity describes the presence of difference within any collection of people. In discussions of social equity, diversity addresses differences in social group membership related, for example, to race, Indigenous identity, class, gender identity or expression, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, and religion. Discussions about diversity linked to access and equity require knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary experiences of oppression and exclusion. [7] 


Inclusion refers to the notion of belonging, feeling welcome and valued, having a sense of citizenship. It also speaks to a capacity to engage and succeed in a given institution, program, or setting.


Why does it matter?

Imagine a future where you are still paid less than a man with the same qualifications ‒ because you are a woman. Imagine a future where your coworkers still dismiss your ideas ‒ because of your cultural background. Imagine a future where you are still told who you can and cannot be married to. Imagine a future where generations are still being taught that there are limits to their dreams ‒ because of who they are. Imagine a world without equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Equity, diversity and inclusion are key for positive social and professional interactions. In a team, diversity in identities, abilities, and perspectives widens horizons and expands knowledge. [10] A team embraces diversity and inclusion by respecting everyone’s input and recognizing when certain voices are prioritized over others; this practice results in more fruitful discussions, creative solutions to complex problems, and new “outside the box” ideas. [11] 

On a larger scale, systemic discrimination in organizations creates and perpetuates disadvantage for marginalized groups, including racialized people, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, women, and Indigenous people. Systemic discrimination in higher education translates into less access and achievement gaps between dominant groups and those whose identities have been the labour market, systemic barriers produce higher than average unemployment rates, lower than average salaries, and concentrations in low-status jobs among these groups. [12] 

Race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, and age are not mutually exclusive entities. These social categorizations are interconnected and link to larger systems such as racism, classism, and sexism.  The combination of these systems of oppression overlap to make for unique experiences of discrimination‒ also known as intersectionality. [13] The compounded systems of gender inequality and racial discrimination, working together is an example of how a racialized woman’s experience of sexism can be directly related, encouraged, and shaped by her experience of racism or ethnocentrism race or ethnicity. [14] 

Respecting the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion, in an intersectional way, enhances social cohesion while preventing alienation of individuals or groups. Learning about the various dimensions of diversity around you, and developing a better understanding of yourself and the experiences of others, will motivate you to combat discriminatory behaviour, and to advocate for inclusive and equitable practices for the ultimate wellbeing of your community. 


Cultivating Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion  

We as a community should continue to challenge inequity and discriminatory behaviours (e.g., stereotyping, misogyny) by acknowledging their detrimental consequences on society as a whole. Promoting inclusion and diversity, and advocating for equity are collective efforts that require the commitment of organizations, governments, as well as individuals.  

Organizational behaviours (e.g., code of conduct, policies) are a reflection of an organization’s values, its dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion. At this level, systemic discrimination calls for systemic remedies in the form of changes to policies and practices that address the barriers limiting the full participation of disadvantaged groups. Additionally, various Canadian government agencies have designated policies as well as training opportunities to promote the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in their activities (e.g., peer review and recruitment processes at Canada Research Chairs). 

At McGill, the Equity Team in the Provost Office work toward promoting equity in all areas of academic life. They collaborate with different offices to “ensure that our institutional equity commitments are woven through practices, policies, and priority-setting throughout the University.” [26] Studies in psychology and sociology have shown that we all possess, to different extents, implicit biases ‒ defined as unconscious associations of stereotypes and attitudes with a particular group. [15] These biases are dictated by a number of factors, including (but not limited to), time, capacity and the social environment to which each individual is exposed(e.g., cultural or religious influence). [16] Take the Implicit Bias Test created by Harvard researchers to discover your biases as a first step in consciously modeling your perceptions and behaviours. [17] You may be surprised by the contrast between your conscious egalitarian values and your implicit ones. It is important to understand that biases affect conventions, which influence outcomes, that further reinforce biases! This cycle can be broken by examining bias, relating it to greater systems of inequity and challenging bias thoughts and behaviours. 

While policies exist at most Canadian organizations, it remains our responsibility as citizens, colleagues, peers, friends, or neighbours to support and respect each other’s rights to be treated fairly, to be recognized for our abilities, to be respected and appreciated for who we are,, and to provide necessary support for those of us who remain affected by marginalization. The day we no longer have to ask if we are sufficiently inclusive, diverse, or fair, is the day these principles would have become the norm, rather than a remarkable exception. 

Quick Guide to Promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

  1. Know your rights as a McGill student, employee, and citizen while respecting those of others 
  2. Review McGill’s Strategic Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and see where you can effect change. [25] 
  3. Confront your biases and prejudice and accept that unconscious biases impact your perceptions and behaviours. Check out this article to learn about interventions to reduce your bias. 
  4. Examine your documents, conventions, syllabi and reading materials and act on any under/ misrepresentations. 
  5. Commit to learning more about the different forms of oppression that affect you and the people around you: Exploitation, Marginalization, Powerlessness, Cultural domination, and Violence. [18]
  6. Benefit from the cultural diversity at McGill to learn about other existing cultures, religions, and perspectives on local and global issues. [19] 
  7. Participate in groups, associations or projects where you can engage in constructive dialogues about topics within or beyond your expertise or comfort zone. 
  8. Connect, listen and learn from books, events, movies, and people ‒ especially those e whose experiences differ than yours [20] 
  9. Be an agent of change: act when witnessing discriminatory behaviour or human/student rights violations [21]
  10. Be open to other perspectives, and being challenged on ideas or experiences that feel new [22]
  11. Ensure that accessibility is prioritized in organizing efforts to ensure that all community members can participate without (or with limited) barriers; this requires checking in about people’s access needs. 
  12. Use and promote assertive self-expression during a group discussion (assertive self-expression is a direct, firm and positive way of communication that promotes equality in person-to-person relationships [23] 
  13. Treat others the way they want to be treated ‒ The Platinum Rule [24] 


Taking Action

Professional Development & Training 

  • Check myInvolvement for upcoming workshops and programs by searching for events tagged with this category: equity, diversity and inclusion. 
  • Workshops – McGill Equity Team in the Office of the Provost: provides workshops for staff and faculty to build capacity on equity-related topics  
  • Workshops – Teaching and Learning Services provide workshops for students to build their capacity on equity-related topics. 

Gaining Experience 

  • Participate in McGill Equity Team events and initiatives.





Groups & Associations 

Books, Articles & Reports


[1], [9] Leaving no one behind: the imperative of inclusive development. United Nations (2016). 

[2], [3] [7] [8] Equity at McGill - Definitions

[4] Employment Equity Act 1995 

[5] [6] Clow 2012 

[7] [25] McGill Strategic EDI Plan 2020-2025

[10], [11] What Differences Make a Difference? The Promise and Reality of Diverse Teams in Organizations. Mannix, E. (2005). 

[12] Racism in the academy. Eisenkraft, H. (2010).

[13] Intersectionality's Definitional Dilemmas. Collins, P.H. (2015). 

[14] Gender and racial discrimination: Report of the Expert Group Meeting. UN Women Watch (2000). 

[15] Implicit and explicit prejudice and interracial interaction. Dovidio, J.F. (2002). 

[16] Racial Anxiety. Godsil, Rachel D. and Richardson, L. Song. (2017).

[17] Project Implicit 

[18] Five Faces of Oppression. Young, M. (2011). 

[19] [20] Equity at McGill 

[21] [22] Defining Twenty-First Century Skills. Binkley, M. (2011). 

[23] Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships. Alberti, R. (2008). 

[24] The Platinum Rule. Alessandra, A. J., & O'Connor, M. J. (1998). 

[26] Equity at McGill  - About Us 


As a McGill student, your participation in full to activities such as training workshops and volunteering are tracked on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)! Having your co-curricular activities listed in one document can help you revise your CV or cover letter, prepare for interviews, and explore career options. Learn how to leverage this important document through myInvolvement, and make your training count!
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