Definition of Terms

It’s important to have a shared understanding of the most important terms employed when discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Only then can we make true progress in efforts.

Advantaged Group

A group that traditionally holds the most societal and economic power. This dominant group may or may not be a numerical majority in society.


To be an ally is to align oneself with another to promote a common interest. In the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion, an ally is someone who takes meaningful actions to support underrepresented groups or marginalized members of a community. Gladstone encourages everyone, particularly those who hold leadership positions or who have been privileged, to be active allies to those with less access. This includes taking responsibility for making changes that will help all succeed.


To discriminate against someone means to treat that person differently, or less favorably. In the context of civil rights law, unlawful discrimination refers to unfair or unequal treatment of an individual (or group) based on certain characteristics. Gladstone is committed to maintaining a safe and civil organizational culture, one free from all forms of discrimination. Gladstone strongly rejects discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, status as a parent, and pregnancy. Gladstone also rejects behaviors such as sexual harassment, reprisal, and retaliation.


Diversity is the collective presence at Gladstone of individuals with different identities and personal characteristics. Our goal is to have a diverse internal community that not only reflects the United States population, but also includes people from groups that have been historically underrepresented in scientific fields.

In accordance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), diversity at Gladstone refers to individuals of different races, gender identities, ages, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religious beliefs, physical abilities, or socioeconomic statuses. In addition, we welcome people with different thinking and working styles, perspectives, experiences, skills, languages, and cultures.


An ethnic group or ethnicity is a group of people who share a common and distinctive identity and who identify with each other, usually on the basis of similarities such as a common language, ancestry, history, society, culture, nation, religion, or race.

While both terms are social constructs used to characterize seemingly different groups, ethnicity is often considered to represent language and cultural expression (or something learned), and race usually refers to skin color or other physical attributes (which are heritable).


Rather than trying to give everyone the same resources or opportunities (i.e., equality), equity focuses on understanding a person’s circumstances and providing them with resources and opportunities tailored to meet their unique needs in order to reach an equal outcome for everyone.

Equity is the guiding principle that ensures every member of the Gladstone internal community—regardless of their identity—has the same opportunity to grow, contribute, and advance. To be equitable, we must first acknowledge that not every individual starts from the same place, and that certain groups may have more advantages or face more barriers. As an organization, we must strive to continually address and correct these imbalances.

Gender Identity

Gender identity is an individual’s personal sense of their own gender, as male, female, a blend of both, or neither. Gender identity may or may not correspond with the individual's sex assigned at birth.

Groups Underrepresented in Biomedical Research

Gladstone’s definition of groups who have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research in the United States —and continue to be underrepresented—aligns with the definition from the National Institutes of Health. It includes individuals from certain racial and ethnic groups (specifically people who identify as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Indigenous, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander identities), individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds (such as low-income families or a social, cultural, or educational environment that directly inhibited them from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career). We also acknowledge that women have been underrepresented in senior faculty and leadership positions.


Harassment is unwanted, offensive behavior based on an individual’s personal characteristics, including race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.


Inclusion is giving everyone a sense of belonging. In an inclusive environment, all individuals, regardless of their identities, feel welcomed, respected, and valued. As an organization, Gladstone must consider the experience of all members of the internal community, particularly those who are in minoritized groups, and ensure they all have an equal voice—and that voice is heard.


Gladstone defines leadership as those represented in the organization’s three leading bodies: the trustees, the Executive Committee (scientific leadership), and the Research Operations Committee (administrative leadership). It also includes members of the Gladstone Foundation Board of Directors and all investigators.


An umbrella term for the community of individuals who identify as lesbian (L), gay (G), bisexual (B), transgender or transexual (T), queer or questioning (Q), intersex (I), and asexual or agender (A), or any other sex, sexuality, or gender not indicated by the letters LGBTQIA.


A subtle but offensive comment or action directed at minoritized or other nondominant groups that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype (e.g., No, where are you really from?”).

Minoritized Group

A subpopulation that differs from the advantaged or majority group in race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic, and whose members have less societal power than members of the advantaged group.

People of Color

A collective term for people of Asian, African, Latin, and Indigenous backgrounds; as opposed to the collective term “White” for those of European ancestry. Originally from the 1700s, this term was reappropriated in the 1970s to represent race beyond the Black and White dichotomy. Today, it is primarily used to bring together individuals of color to stand in solidarity with one another.

Personal Identity

One’s identity as an individual, including history, personality, name, and other characteristics that make one unique and different from other individuals.


Everyone has some form of privilege. In the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion, privilege is understood to be rights, benefits, and advantages enjoyed by group, not an individual. It is institutional, not individual, and largely invisible to those who have it.


A social category forged historically through oppression, slavery, and conquest. Notably, genetic differences within any designated racial group are often greater than differences between racial groups, and most geneticists agree that racial taxonomies at the DNA level are invalid.

While both terms are social constructs used to characterize seemingly different groups, race usually refers to skin color or other physical attributes (which are heritable), and ethnicity is often considered to represent language and cultural expression (or something learned).


Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in race or ethnicity.

Unconscious or Implicit Bias

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. A form of bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, it nevertheless affects judgment, decisions, and behavior.