Key Concepts & Terms

Allyship is a life-long process of working to advance inclusion through intentional, positive, and conscious actions within one’s sphere of influence. A person who takes action, listens to, builds trust with, advocates for, and amplifies the voices of marginalized people and groups may be recognized as an ally. As a label, the term “ally” cannot be self-applied; one can only become an ally by having their efforts recognized as such by the marginalized person(s) they strive to uplift.

Anti-racism is the practice of identifying, challenging, preventing, eliminating and changing the values, structures, policies, programs, practices and behaviours that perpetuate racism between individuals and within systems. Anti-racism is characterized by taking action against racism; it is distinct from simply having a disposition of being “not racist.”


At the individual level, medical professionals can take anti-racist action by building trust with patients from marginalized communities, such as by taking time to listen to their concerns, providing culturally competent care, and acknowledging historical injustice.

At the systems level, medical institutions can take anti-racist action by taking steps to address structural racism, such as by examining their hiring practices, diversifying leadership, and addressing disparities in care.

An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and none needs developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity.

(Source: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.)

BIPOC/IBPOC are acronyms for black, Indigenous, and people of colour. The acronym builds on the centuries-old “people of colour” found in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1796. Letters for black and indigenous were included to be more inclusive and to recognize that the history of black and Indigenous people requires distinction from people of colour.


A phenomenon in which the presence of other people discourages individuals from intervening in an emergency, against a bully, during an assault, or when some other injustice is being committed. The greater the number of bystanders present in the situation, the less likely that any one of them will provide help to a person in distress, as each individual feels like they bear less responsibility for intervening.

In working to bring about equity, diversity, and inclusion, it is important to recognize the bystander effect as a barrier that can prevent otherwise kind and caring people from taking action when they witness an act of discrimination.

Instead of being bystanders, the REDI team encourages people to become “Upstanders,” people who are motivated to take action when they witness injustice.

Calling In is an approach aimed at encouraging someone to change their problematic or harmful behavior by inviting them into a conversation with the goal of listening and building mutual understanding.

For example, a preceptor might “call in” a colleague by pulling them aside in private and asking questions such as, “What was your intention when you said [problematic or harmful words]?” or “Can you help me understand what was going on when you [engaged in problematic or harmful behavior]?”

When calling someone in, it is important to listen with compassion, patience, and empathy while also being frank about the harmful effects of the person’s actions or words in order to help them understand.

This approach is appropriate for situations in which you have an established relationship with the other person and you both hold similar levels of power, making it safe to have such a conversation. It is not appropriate for addressing major issues such as sexual misconduct or egregious racial microaggressions, especially when there are significant differences in power involved.

“Calling in” stands in contrast to a “calling out” approach, which involves openly challenging and shutting down unacceptable behavior in the moment.

Calling Out is appropriate when we need to interrupt to prevent further harm to let someone know that their words or actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Colonialism is a policy and practice of control by one people or power over other peoples or areas with the aim of economic exploitation, social dominance and assimilation often resulting in the marginalization of the original group, a loss of self-determination and the destruction of their culture, practices, and social order.

Conflict Engagement refers to any activities meant to address conflict. Approaches that view conflict as something negative, unwanted, and harmful can lead to ignoring the reality of conflict and its root causes. Instead, Conflict Engagement aims to reframe our approach to conflict in a more positive way. Conflict Engagement sees conflict as arising from failures to communicate authentically and productively, or from situations where systems and structures fail to support individuals. Learn More

Constructive Feedback is providing useful, specific, issue-focused comments and suggestions based on observed behaviours that contribute to a positive outcome, a better process, or improved behaviours. Feedback should be authentic and honest but also sensitive and should provide encouragement, support, corrective measures and direction to the person receiving the feedback.

Cultural Humility is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.

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Cultural Safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care

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Diversity refers to differences in the lived experiences and perspectives of people. Each person’s unique combination of differences contributes to their experiences in ways that can be both positive and negative. Diversity is not a spectrum or a measure. One person cannot be more diverse than another. Diversity is created when people who are different from one another come together, and includes everyone in the room.


Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express emotions to reduce stress and to handle interpersonal relationships empathically and effectively. Emotional intelligence is comprised of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Learn More

Equity, in the university context, requires the creation of opportunities for historically, persistently, or systemically marginalized populations of students, staff, and faculty to have equal access to education, programs, and growth opportunities that are capable of closing achievement gaps. This requires recognizing that not everyone is starting from the same place or history, and that deliberate measures to remove barriers to opportunities may be needed to ensure fair processes and outcomes”.


Inclusion is an active, intentional, and continuous process to address inequities in power and privilege, and build a respectful and diverse community that ensures welcoming spaces and opportunities to flourish for all.


Inclusive Excellence (IE) is a systems-wide approach to equity, diversity and inclusion. IE states that true excellence in an institution is unattainable without inclusion – and in fact, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to excellence. It moves away from historical approaches to diversity that focused on numbers and representation. Instead, IE helps us think about the institution as a vibrant community that can create excellence by embedding diversity throughout the institution.

The Inclusive Excellence (IE) model is grounded in work from the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U).30 Universities Canada adopted Inclusive Excellence principles in 2017. IE appears as a key strategy in Shaping UBC’s Next Century: 2018-2028 Strategic Plan


Intersectionality is the recognition that social identities or categorizations (such as race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity) create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

The term was coined by lawyer, civil rights advocate, and critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the “various ways in which race and gender intersect in shaping structural and political aspects of violence against women of color”. In other words, the effects of discrimination and disadvantage are more acute for those who belong to multiple marginalized groups, as the inequities they experience reinforce each other.

For example, a queer black woman may experience the world on the basis of her sexuality, gender, and race — an experience based on how those identities intersect in her life. Intersectionality recognizes that oppression cannot be reduced to only one part of an identity; each oppression is dependent on and shapes the other. Understanding intersectionality is essential to combatting the interwoven prejudices people face in their daily lives.

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Race refers to the categories into which society places individuals on the basis of physical characteristics (such as skin color, hair type, facial form and eye shape). Though many believe that race is determined by biology, it is now widely accepted that this classification system was in fact created for social and political reasons. There are actually more genetic and biological differences within the racial groups defined by society than between different groups.

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Racism is the belief that a group of people are inferior based on the colour of their skin or due to the inferiority of their culture or spirituality. It leads to discriminatory behaviours and policies that oppress, ignore or treat racialized groups as ‘less than’ non-racialized groups.

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Restorative and transformative justice approaches are most commonly applied in criminal justice reform, but they have also been applied to academic and healthcare institutions to help units navigate how to address differences, disagreements, conflicts, and harm.

Restorative justice (RJ) is a participatory, community-based approach to preventing and addressing harm, affirming the role of relational well-being in health and safety. RJ is an approach to justice that gives voice and agency to those most affected and centers the dignity of all people involved to acknowledge and address harms, identify resulting needs, and help rebuild relationships and trust for impacted parties and communities. RJ asks: Who has been hurt? What are their needs? How and by whom can these needs be met?

Transformative justice (TJ) builds off of RJ but explicitly goes beyond the interpersonal to address the broader systems that contributed to harm. TJ adds the questions: What socio-political, economic, and cultural context caused or promoted the harmful behavior? What broader contextual conditions need to be transformed to prevent future occurrences?

Learn more about restorative justice and transformative justice in higher education.

Karp, D. R., & Armour, M. (2019). The little book of restorative justicefor colleges and universities: Repairing harm and rebuilding trust in response to student misconduct. Good Books.

Systemic racism or institutional racism refers to the ways that whiteness and white superiority become embedded in the policies and processes of an institution, resulting in a system that advantages white people and disadvantages People of Colour.


Unconscious (implicit) biases are pre-judgments or mental shortcuts we make about others. We all harbor beliefs about members of various social and identity groups. As educators and health professionals, our mental shortcuts can lead to harmful assumptions about individuals from historically, systematically, and persistently excluded groups. If left unchecked, these shortcuts can negatively impact student and patient care. Therefore, it is crucial to reflect on biases about different groups and implement practices that mitigate the effects of biases, preventing behaviors that may harm students and patients. Learn more about mitigating biases in the REDI Best Practices Tip Sheet: Mitigating Cognitive Biases in Hiring.

Upstander or Active Bystander is someone who not only witnesses a situation but recognizes injustice and speaks up or steps in to disrupt, intervene, or provide support to the targeted person. Learn More

Upstander/Bystander Engagement provides tools and strategies to help people move from being passive bystanders to being empowered and active upstanders and allies who contribute to a change in the social acceptability of harassment, abuse, and racism. Upstander engagement teaches people how to intervene and take responsibility for calling in racist and other inappropriate behaviour. Learn More