Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) are essential components of any school system. It’s not enough to simply talk about diversity—efforts need to be made to create an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome, respected, and supported. It’s essential for schools to understand why DEIB is important so that they can create a systemwide response to ensure that all students feel like they belong.
What is Diversity?
Diversity is the fact or quality of being diverse – being composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities. Diversity is an inclusive collection of individuals and groups who bring varied human characteristics, cultural and life experiences, interests, and points of view to enrich a community.
It is important to distinguish between the primary and secondary dimensions of diversity.
- Primary dimensions are the following: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, and sexual orientation.
- Secondary dimensions of diversity are those that can be changed and include, but are not limited to: educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, and work experience.
However, merely viewing diversity as a simple understanding between different individuals and celebrating everyone’s differences does not address the reality that individuals may be deterred from being fully included by systems and operational practices that favor some people at the expense of others. The understanding by the college of what diversity means from a “social justice perspective” can provide the foundation for diversity initiatives on campus. In addition, this perspective addresses discrimination, oppression, and the “isms” that continue to exist, exposing where they occur, how they work, and what mechanisms perpetuate them.” Some examples of the “isms” are ableism, ageism, classism, linguicism, sexism, racism, and heterosexism.
It must be clearly understood that diversity is not simply a mirroring of demographics of the local population. Diversity is about becoming a higher performing organization, which produces outcomes that serves the needs of a diverse college population. Diversity is about being inclusive, not exclusive. Understanding that people within the college will reflect a collection of similarities and differences, diversity will gather the power of many and reflect the spirit of one.
What Does DEIB Mean?
DEBI stands for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and is an important topic in all industries today—including education.
In the world of education, DEIB is an especially relevant topic—and a unique one, because it doesn’t just involve employees. DEIB is important in a student body, and it’s important for students to see DEIB as a priority at their school.
At Escuela Bilingüe Internacional (EBI), we are a diverse, supportive, international community that encourages learning and growth. Diversity, multiculturalism, inclusivity, and belonging are deeply integrated into the foundation of our educational model and school community. They are at the heart of our mission and reflected in our daily interactions.
Promoting a Systemwide Response
In order for DEIB in schools to work, there needs to be buy-in from everyone in the school system—administrators, teachers, staff, families, and students. There must also be clear expectations around what success looks like as well as a shared vision for how this success will be achieved. This is especially true when it comes to equity initiatives; it’s crucial that everyone understands why these changes are being made and how they will benefit students. To foster buy-in across the board and develop a shared vision of success, schools should open up conversations with all stakeholders involved in their DEIB efforts.
Creating Inclusive Environments
At the heart of any successful DEIB effort lies creating an environment where all students feel welcomed and accepted regardless of background or identity. Schools should strive towards creating an inclusive culture by encouraging conversations about difference across different grade levels through activities such as student dialogues or teacher professional development around culturally responsive practices. Schools can also do this through developing curriculum that accurately reflects the experiences of all students. Additionally, schools should provide resources for staff members on how best to support student populations who have been historically marginalized or excluded from mainstream education systems. Finally, schools need to establish clear policies regarding bullying or harassment based on race/ethnicity/gender/etc., which should include consequences for any violations of those policies. These steps will help create safe spaces where all students can learn without fear of discrimination or exclusion due to their identity or background.
At the heart of any successful DEIB effort lies creating an environment where all students feel welcomed and accepted regardless of background or identity.
Monitoring Progress & Adjusting Tactics When Necessary
As with any initiative within a school system, it’s important for administrators and staff members alike to keep track of progress being made towards achieving their goals related to DEIB efforts—and adjust tactics if necessary. This could mean conducting regular surveys with parents and students regarding their experiences at school; consulting experts on best practices around DEIB efforts; or investing in professional development opportunities related specifically towards increasing understanding around equity issues among staff members. Ultimately, by monitoring progress regularly—and adjusting strategies as needed—schools can ensure that their efforts are both effective and sustainable over time.
Creating successful DEIB initiatives requires vision, collaboration between stakeholders within the school system—administrators, teachers, staff families etc. By taking actionable steps towards creating inclusive environments, students will feel safe, respected, and accepted. This will enable our students to understand and appreciate a variety of worldviews.
Escuela Bilingüe Internacional (EBI) is proud to be an independent PreK-8 school offering a multilingual, international education that inspires our student to engage with a changing global world.