rules for diversity and inclusion

Diversity And Inclusion 6 Rules: How To Avoid Discrimination​

Who is this micro-class for

* Everyone

* Managers and employees

What you’ll learn

* Understand diversity factors

* How to avoid discriminatory behaviors


* Less than 8 minutes to complete

About this micro-class

Diversity and inclusion etiquette is a set of rules to help everyone understand diversity factors, respect others, be inclusive, and prevent or deal with discriminatory behavior.

1. Understand the most common factors of diversity

Diversity and inclusion are two closely related concepts.

Diversity encompasses all the unique characteristics, experiences, and backgrounds that make us as individuals. It goes beyond the visible traits like race and gender to include aspects such as age, culture, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and more.

Inclusion refers to creating an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included, regardless of their differences. It involves actively seeking out and including diverse perspectives.


Gender refers to the social and cultural roles, expectations, and identities associated with being male, female, or non-binary.

Common forms of discrimination include gender-based pay disparities, stereotyping, sexual harassment, and gender-based exclusion from leadership roles.

Culture and ethnicity

Culture and ethnicity relate to an individual’s cultural background, traditions, language, and heritage.

Discrimination can take the form of racial profiling, cultural insensitivity, micro-aggressions, and exclusion based on cultural differences.


Age refers to an individual’s number of years since birth.

Discrimination, known as ageism, can manifest as stereotyping, bias in hiring or promotion, and exclusion of older or younger employees from certain opportunities.

Socioeconomic class

Socioeconomic class relates to an individual’s social and economic status, often determined by income, education, and occupation.

Discrimination, known as classism, may involve the exclusion or stigmatization of individuals based on their economic circumstances, such as making assumptions about their capabilities.

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction, which can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, etc.

Discrimination includes homophobia, derogatory comments, exclusion, and unequal treatment based on sexual orientation.

Physical and mental abilities

Physical and mental abilities refer to an individual’s physical health, cognitive abilities, and mental health.

Discrimination can take the form of ableism, lack of accommodations, and stigmatization of individuals with disabilities.

Physical appearance

Physical appearance relates to an individual’s physical traits, such as height, weight, and physical features.

Discrimination includes body shaming, appearance-based judgments, and biased treatment based on physical attributes.

Religion and spirituality

Religion and spirituality pertain to an individual’s beliefs, practices, and faith.

Discrimination can manifest as religious intolerance, exclusion based on faith, or disrespectful comments about religious practices.

National origin

National origin refers to an individual’s country of birth, heritage, or nationality.

Discrimination may involve xenophobia, bias against immigrants, or exclusion based on nationality.

Educational background

Educational background relates to an individual’s level of education, degrees, and academic achievements.

Discrimination can take the form of credentialism, where individuals are judged based on their educational qualifications.

Parental status

Parental status refers to whether an individual is a parent, caregiver, or has dependents.

Discrimination may involve biases against parents or caregivers, such as assuming they are less committed to work.

Political views

Political views encompass an individual’s beliefs and affiliations related to political ideologies and parties.

Discrimination can manifest as political bias, exclusion, or ideological clashes in the workplace.

2. Get comfortable with diversity

Train yourself to be more open-minded

Educate yourself about different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. Engage in open and respectful conversations with colleagues from diverse backgrounds.

Instead of focusing on the perceived diversity, train yourself to focus on the similarities. The things that each one of us has in common with other people are way more than the differences. 

Avoid generalizations about diversity attributes

Challenge your own assumptions and stereotypes. A single personal attribute cannot define a person. 

Encourage others to share their experiences and perspectives and practice active listening to understand them better.

Avoid unconscious bias

Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, refers to the stereotypes individuals hold about certain groups of people. These biases can affect our perceptions, attitudes, and decisions without our awareness.

In dealing with unconscious bias, acknowledging that everyone has biases is the first step. Dedicate time to self-reflection and introspection to identify your own biases.

3. Manage and prevent micro-aggressions

Micro-aggressions are subtle, often unintentional, discriminatory remarks, actions, or behaviors that communicate negative messages or assumptions about someone’s race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other aspects of their identity. 

These actions can be verbal or non-verbal and are typically due to stereotypes, biases, or prejudices. To prevent them, each individual must get comfortable with diversity. When you experience or witness micro-aggressions, calmly give feedback to the person.

4. Adopt an inclusive and neutral language

Use gender-neutral language when applicable and respect individuals’ preferred pronouns and identities.

Avoid derogatory or offensive language and slurs. Never refer to someone by their physical traits, body parts, gender, or any other personal attribute.

5. Avoid sensitive or personal topics

Avoid conversation topics that can be controversial, too personal, or at risk of misinterpretation. Individuals who have experienced discrimination may be particularly sensitive to some topics.

Examples of sensitive topics include:

  • Personal finances
  • Political affiliations
  • Health issues
  • Religious beliefs
  • Personal relationships
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Controversial social issues

6. Be tolerant and help others

Address inappropriate comments or behaviors promptly and privately. Encourage open and respectful dialogue to educate others. 

Do not expect immediate results, as individuals need time to learn, absorb experiences, understand their mistakes, and learn from them. Be tolerant and have faith in others and their goodwill.

However, if you experience or witness severe or ongoing issues in the workplace, school, or other institution, report them to HR or management when necessary.

Diversity and inclusion etiquette mistakes to avoid

Major mistakes in diversity and inclusion etiquette include:

  • Stereotyping or making assumptions about individuals or groups.
  • Discriminatory language or behavior.
  • Failing to acknowledge and rectify privilege.
  • Not listening or dismissing the experiences of marginalized groups.
  • Avoiding diversity discussions altogether.

Additional resources & links