Understanding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

At Georgia Tech, we see diversity, equity, and inclusion as essential to learning, discovery, and creation.

Fostering an environment that reflects our values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for every campus member requires first and foremost operationalizing these values. When applied, these principles create the behavioral expectations for a community and culture where we lead with our common humanity, embrace our differences and our multiple perspectives, care for each other’s psychological integrity, regularly practice behaviors that connect us with one another, act as trustworthy stewards in our actions, and show up as forward-thinking students, faculty, and staff. We have the courage to make decisions for the greater good of all, and when we fall short of who we want to be, we own our mistakes. We take responsibility to right our wrongs, restore, and renew our commitment to strive for excellence in this beloved community. Use the links below to learn more about how we define diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; or scroll to read the definitions. 

Diversity | Equity | Inclusion | Belonging | Inclusive Leadership | Inclusive Scholarship and Research | Inclusive Teaching | Inclusive Innovation | Inclusive Entrepreneurship 

Diversity

We define diversity as the presence or representation of the multiple and intersectional identities of all members of our community. Diversity represents the ways we identify personally, culturally, and socially. It is the spectrum and intersections of humankind — our different perspectives, ways of thinking and being, and the families, communities, groups, and cultures from which we have come. When our differences are valued, appreciated, cared for, and leveraged, our unique talents, gifts, abilities, and perspectives enrich our learning and our understanding of each other and the world. This richness of diversity offers a competitive advantage by fostering a community of sophisticated, creative thinkers and problem solvers. We thrive because we are diverse.

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Equity

Equity, at its core, is about treating people fairly as individuals. This does not mean treating everyone the same, but instead requires us to ensure that everyone has the same access, opportunity, and resources to thrive and to be successful and recognized for their contributions to our community. Equity requires that we treat each person as an individual and meet them where they are — not where we preconceive or assume, they should be. It accounts for people having different circumstances and allocates resources and opportunities needed for all to flourish equally within our ecosystem.

Equity also requires us to be vigilant in evaluating our policies, procedures, and practices for their outcomes. Equity preserves and guarantees access, resources, and genuine fairness for all members of our community.

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Inclusion

Inclusion is the intentional practice of ensuring that all voices are heard, all people matter, and we foster a culture of connection, understanding, and respect in our daily interactions. Every student, and every faculty and staff member, is a leader with the ability to positively influence others. The expectation of leaders at Georgia Tech is to ensure that students, faculty, staff, team members, alumni, and visitors feel welcome, valued, respected, and have a sense of shared power as a member of this community.

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Belonging

Belonging is a felt sense of complete acceptance. It is an essential human need that relates to our need to be part of a group or something bigger than ourselves. It is achieved when we feel connected to other people, groups, and even a place or an organization, its mission, and its common goals. When we experience belonging, we feel safe to bring our whole and full selves, behave authentically, and take interpersonal risks while doing our best work. Conversely, when this sense of belonging is absent, we experience exclusion and a felt sense of disconnection. When we are deprived of this basic psychological need it affects our motivation, well-being, and ability to learn and perform at our best. Belonging is only possible when everyone feels seen, present, fully included, and confident that they will be treated fairly.   

Operationalizing these principles means we strive to meet these defined standards of behavior and they guide us in creating an intellectual community where these behaviors are genuinely expected and rewarded. They instill a cultural narrative of social impact that we can return to again and again to align our efforts.

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Some additional key behavioral standards to support proactive culture management include:

Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leaders are first and foremost self-aware, mindful, and understand how they affect those around them. They are socially intelligent, practice authenticity, readily connect with others and convey decisions with compassion. They nurture a growth mindset and cultivate purposeful and fulfilling lives that make them available to serve people in diverse environments.

In turn, they can inspire and create the conditions that open doors and empower others to experience a sense of connection and belonging and appreciation for their well-being, physical and psychological safety, support, and encouragement to do their best work.

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Inclusive Scholarship and Research

Inclusive scholarship involves interrogating our work, disciplinary knowledge, methodologies, and research practices to ask how they affect our knowledge production, its application, our professional practices, ourselves as scholars, and different groups, communities, and populations. Inclusive scholarship requires constantly reflective practices that can affect all aspects of our academic enterprise. These can include developing STEM-focused research agendas that center around inclusion and equity issues; enhancing our capacity for educational research on inclusive pedagogical innovations; using research designs and methods that are culturally and socially conscious; applying a critical lens to our traditional disciplinary knowledge production practices; modeling consistently inclusive behaviors in our work that ensures all identities, perspectives, and opinions are represented and valued; fostering a culture of respect toward knowledge contributions; and shared responsibility for solving larger social problems.

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Inclusive Teaching 

Inclusive teaching practices ensure all students have opportunities to learn, thrive, and experience belonging in the classroom. Inclusive teachers have a critical awareness of their own perspectives, values, and implicit biases and ensure their classrooms enable and empower students to voice their own opinions, perspectives, consideration, and worldviews. Inclusive teaching involves supporting the multiple and intersectional identities of students in the classroom (LGBTQIA, students with disabilities, first-generation, international, underrepresented, veterans, etc.) and ensuring that all students are given equitable opportunities for learning and success. Inclusive teachers lead learning through appreciative inquiry, rely on constructivist pedagogical practices, and intentionally integrate a broad array of sources, authors, perspectives, and points of view into the curriculum. In terms of assessment, inclusive teaching provides multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning through many different modes. Inclusive teaching is compassionate and caring. 

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Inclusive Innovation  

Inclusive innovation focuses on addressing and creating solutions for real-life problems and social concerns that involve equity, diversity, and inclusion challenges. Inclusive innovation is interdisciplinary and creates connections between different stakeholders (universities, innovators, private companies, public sectors, nonprofits, community groups, and individuals) to create solutions that are transformative, culturally responsive, empathic, community-driven, and aimed at improving the life of groups negatively affected by inequities. Inclusive innovation also actively involves, includes, and empowers members of traditionally excluded groups in the design and creation of socially conscious solutions. 

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Inclusive Entrepreneurship  

Inclusive startup ecosystems make entrepreneurship accessible and understood by everyone, facilitate access to financial and social capital, and celebrate the success of champions of all backgrounds. Inclusive entrepreneurship aims to expand career options and growth by empowering members of underrepresented groups and all segments of society to create, grow, and engage in new businesses and social enterprises. With the diversity in our community, our resources, and the commitment of other leading organizations in our city and our state, this is an area where Georgia Tech is poised to lead. We can teach and empower students to not only find but also to create jobs and join with our research and corporate partners to foster a healthy and diverse regional economic development ecosystem.

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