Module 1: Key Concepts in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Systemic racism and discrimination are enacted in organizational and institutional policies and practices, such as the sanctioning of police violence against Black, Indigenous and persons of colour. They represent the intersections of dominant understandings regarding racial hierarchies, economic relations based on capitalism, and forms of masculinity and femininity. Systemic racism and discrimination are also enacted in microaggressions, including microassaults, microinvalidations, and microinsults. Therefore, it requires both structural reforms and behavioural change at the individual level.
EDI policies and practices are trending in the academy, private and non-profit sectors. They are means to address systemic racism and discrimination. It has emerged in the context of multiple factors, including demographic shifts in western societies, social movements spearheaded by historically marginalized groups, and worker shortages. Depending on how EDI is formulated, it can increase the representation of equity-seeking groups, contribute to their influence in decision-making, and reduce barriers to accessing employment. More radically expressed, it can transform organizational priorities and processes by pluralizing knowledge that has been historically undervalued or invisible.
In the absence of considerations of equity, diversity and inclusiveness alone may reproduce the values and beliefs of the dominant group in alternative forms, co-opt persons from historically marginalized groups, or generate new social hierarchies. Disrupting systemic racism and discrimination requires continuous, deliberate action because dominant group members will protect their interests. This includes shape-shifting by adopting discourses and practices that neutralize and manage demands for radical change, such as focusing on individual behaviour while neglecting structural change.