Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Growing Our Inclusive Language

Nichols School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mission Statement, Adopted March 2020

Nichols School commits to being a courageous community, grounded in equity of process and outcomes, where we can all safely and authentically be ourselves and therefore accept the challenge of our collective growth.  
Communication is the skillful, effective, and respectful exchange of ideas with others. Nichols students develop communication skills as they are given opportunities to respond to others’ ideas with clarity and respect. Nichols students are taught to communicate in the following ways:

  • They seek out and listen actively to a wide variety of opinions and perspectives.
  • They contribute ideas clearly and with attention to audience across a broad range of media and in different contexts.
  • They participate respectfully in open exchanges of ideas.
  • They write and receive feedback on their writing frequently and learn to formulate their ideas clearly for different intended audiences.
Nichols students will be prepared—mind, body, and spirit—to listen to others with respect, to be compassionate, and to engage in debate with an open mind.
The Work it Requires
Without a shared language, we cannot assume that we are referring to the same issues when we use the same terms. Shared language is the platform on which relationship building and communication stands. Too often, work around inclusion, community, and belonging gets detoured because the same terms may have different meanings depending on who is communicating. The results can be confusion, misunderstanding and distrust.

To that end, we aspire to grow our inclusive language. Consistent with our Core Competencies, growing our inclusive language cultivates an environment where all members of our community can engage and develop, create, think and communicate meaningfully and effectively.

Glossary of Inclusive Language

List of 28 items.

  • Advocate

    Someone who speaks up for themself and members of their identity group; e.g., a woman who lobbies for equal pay for women. Advocates acknowledge responsibility as citizens to shape public policy to address intentional or unintentional harm to minorities and the oppressed, whether caused by action or inaction.
  • Allyship

    The practice of emphasizing social justice, inclusion, and human rights by members of an ingroup, to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalized outgroup. Allyship is part of the anti-oppression or anti-racist conversation, which puts into use social justice theories and ideals. 

    Allyship involves: 
    Action – allyship is constant and committed practice, not identity. Allyship involves action, support, and solidarity with marginalized groups and anti-oppression moments and movements.  
    Listening – we respectfully listen to marginalized persons and groups. We work to build mutual trust and consent through our actions, listening, learning, and yielding. 
    Learning – we do the research and the work of learning about privilege and positionality and historical and contemporary struggles. We work to reveal and challenge our assumptions, our long-held narratives, and to build our understanding of the systems and structures of oppression so that we may work to confront and eradicate them. 
    Yielding – Allyship involves both action and yielding; in the sense that practicing allyship means that we are careful to avoid monopolizing, overtaking, speaking for, patronizing, romanticizing, agenda-setting, and so forth. We act, listen, learn, and yield. 
  • Belonging

    The feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group or place. In order for people to feel like they belong, the environment needs to be set up to be a diverse and inclusive place.
  • Belongingness

    The human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, a religion, or something else, people tend to have an inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. 
  • Colorblindness

    This term is used to describe personal, group, and institutional policies or practices that do not consider race or ethnicity as a determining factor. The term “colorblind” de-emphasizes or ignores race and ethnicity as a large part of one’s identity. (The National Multicultural Institute)
  • Critical Race Theory

    A framework or set of basic perspectives, methods, and pedagogy that seeks to identify, analyze, and transform those structural and cultural aspects of society that maintain the subordination and marginalization of People of Color. There are at least five themes that form the basic perspectives of critical race theory: the centrality and intersectionality of race and racism; the challenge to dominant ideology; the commitment to social justice; the centrality of experiential knowledge; and the interdisciplinary perspective. 
  • Cultural Appropriation

    The non-consensual/misappropriation use of cultural elements for commodification or profit purposes – including symbols, art, language, customs, etc. — often without understanding, acknowledgment, or respect for its value in the original culture.
  • Cultural Competence

    An ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. A process of embracing diversity and learning about people from other cultural backgrounds. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world, and an openness to learn from them.

    Cultural competence has four components:
    1. Awareness of one's own cultural worldview
    2. Attitude towards cultural differences
    3. Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews
    4. Cross-cultural skills (developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures)
  • Decolonize

    The active and intentional process of unlearning values, beliefs, and conceptions that have caused physical, emotional, or mental harm to people through colonization. It requires a recognition of systems of oppression.
  • Dialogue

    “Communication that creates and recreates multiple understandings” (Wink, 1997).

    Dialogue is bidirectional, not zero‐sum, and may or may not end in agreement. Dialogue can be emotional and uncomfortable, but is safe, respectful and has greater understanding as its goal.
  • Diversity

    The sum total of all of the dimensions of difference that exist among people, including our identities, experiences, abilities, and worldviews/perspectives. Diversity may be visible or invisible, but it exists in every interaction between people. Dimensions of diversity include gender identity or expression, age, ethnicity, language, class, culture, sexual orientation, race, ability, size, etc.  
  • Equality

    A state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights and equal access to certain social goods and services. 
  • Equity-mindedness

    A demonstrated awareness of and willingness to address equity issues among institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. The perspective or mode of thinking exhibited by practitioners who call attention to patterns of inequity in student outcomes.
  • Heterosexism

    Viewing the world only in heterosexual terms, thus denigrating other sexual orientations. 
  • Hidden Bias

    Preferences for or against a person, thing, or group held at an unconscious level. These are different from an overt, or explicit bias, which translates to an attitude or prejudice that someone has at a conscious level and is obvious and blatant. Test yourself for hidden bias: Psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington created "Project Implicit" to develop Hidden Bias Tests—called Implicit Association Tests, or IATs, in the academic world—to measure unconscious bias. Test yourself: Hidden Bias Test
  • Inclusion Excellence

    Organizations that have evolved beyond diversity into fully integrated, inclusive entities that:
    • value and embrace diversity and inclusion;
    • focus on the individual, moving beyond a focus on groups;
    • focus on creating a work environment where each person is recognized and developed, and talents are routinely tapped into;
    • practice talent differentiation strategies;
    • value people because of, not in spite of, their differences;
    • take steps to move toward an environment that is equitable for all;
    • internalize inclusion as a core value, meaning it neither changes quickly nor is affected by economic trends;
    • see human equity as an essential element of sustainable competitive advantage or organizational effectiveness;
    • integrate inclusion into all aspects of the organization: all employees consider themselves responsible for creating a fair, equitable and inclusive environment.
  • Indigenous

    Indigenous, or less commonly indigenous: of, or relating to, the earliest known inhabitants of a place and especially of a place that was colonized by a now-dominant group. Existing naturally or having always lived in a place; native.
    • The Navajos are among the indigenous people of North America.
    • Are there any species of frog indigenous to the area?
    You can also watch this land acknowledgement video prepared by Olivia Porter '18.
  • Intersectionality

    An analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities combine at the micro level of individual experience to reflect multiple interlocking systems of privilege and/or oppression at the macro, social-structural level. See what intersectionality looks like here.
  • Intersectionality

    The acknowledgement that within groups of people with a common identity, whether it be gender, sexuality, religion, race, or one of the many other defining aspects of identity, there exist intragroup differences.

    In other words, each individual experiences social structure slightly differently because the intersection of their identities reflects an intersection of overlapping oppressions. Therefore, sweeping generalizations about the struggle or power of a particular social group fail to recognize that individuals in the group also belong to other social groups and may experience other forms of marginalization. Unfortunately, institutions and social movements based on a commonly shared identity tend to disregard the presence of other marginalized identities within the group.
  • Multicultural Competency

    A process of embracing diversity and learning about people from other cultural backgrounds. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world, and an openness to learn from them.
  • Patriarchy

    Actions and beliefs that prioritize masculinity. Patriarchy is practiced systemically in the ways and methods through which power is distributed in society (jobs and positions of power given to men in government, policy, criminal justice, etc.) while also influencing how we interact with one another interpersonally (gender expectations, space-taking, etc.)
  • Race

    Race refers to the concept of dividing people into populations or groups on the basis of various sets of physical characteristics that result from genetic ancestry. Sociologists use the concept of race to describe how people think of and treat groups of people, as people very commonly classify each other according to race (e.g., as African-American or as Asian).

    Most sociologists believe that race is not “real” in the sense that there are no distinctive genetic or physical characteristics that truly distinguish one group of people from another; instead, different groups share overlapping characteristics.
  • Safe Space

    An environment in which everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves and participating fully without fear of attack, ridicule or denial of experience.  
  • Silencing

    The conscious or unconscious processes by which the voice or participation of particular social identities is excluded or inhibited.
  • Social Identity

    A framework involving the ways in which one characterizes oneself, the affinities one has with other people, the ways one has learned to behave in stereotyped social settings, the things one values in oneself and in the world, and the norms that one recognizes or accepts governing everyday behavior.  
  • Social Justice

    Social justice is both a process and a goal. The goal of social justice is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.  

    Social justice constitutes a form of activism, based on principles of equity and inclusion that encompasses a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and society as a whole. 
  • Structural Inequality

    Systemic disadvantage(s) of one social group compared to other groups, rooted and perpetuated through discriminatory practices (conscious or unconscious) that are reinforced through institutions, ideologies, representations, policies/laws and practices. When this kind of inequality is related to racial/ethnic discrimination, it is referred to as systemic or structural racism.
  • Tolerance

    Acceptance and open‐mindedness to different practices, attitudes and cultures; does not necessarily connote agreement with the differences.

About Us

Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 130-year history.