DEI, EDI, REI, DEIJ, and JEDI are among the most well-known word-salad acronyms adopted by well-meaning and/or virtue-signaling institutions that are now addressing racism and other “isms” in the workplace. Unfortunately, institutions (and some consultants) are flattening or erasing the analyses from which these terms originate, re-framing them into a “celebrating ALL differences” stance that does little to change root systems or operations that seed equity.   

While most people understand that “diversity” is about representation, we flatten “inclusion” to mean “everyone having a voice” completely disappearing power dynamics and relationships, and “equity” to mean “everyone having what they need,” leaving out societal repair for those groups legally excluded from economic and social resources for generations.  Reparations is part of equity. 

When institutions aspire toward true inclusion–which addresses how power is built, wielded, and shared–seeds for societal equity are planted, with “justice” as an outcome.  Until our institutions commit to substantively changing root systems, operations, and “business as usual” power dynamics, the continuing variety of acronyms might be the longest-lasting outcomes of the work.

Written by A. Adar Ayira for

Baltimore Racial Justice Action’s Racial Equity Practices (R.E.P.)

A Monthly Newsletter for 21st Century Institutions