Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

What's your culture on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?

Today, educational excellence means creating learning environments where EVERY student feels safe, included, and empowered to achieve.

Strategizing for diversity, equity and inclusion is a pressing concern for institutions, including schools, all over the world as a result of the shocking and brutal death of two black African Americans, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, which drew attention to the ongoing existence of systemic racism.

This page provides pointers to help inform policy, curriculum and pedagogy as you address the challenge of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.


"I am both a victim of and a beneficiary from structural racism. As a black man, I am still dealing with the fresh pain resulting from recent racial injustices culminating with the murder of George Floyd. At the same time, as an international education professional, my livelihood depends on an industry that benefits from and perpetuates structural racism. Wrestling with this dichotomy has led me to the conclusion that international education must make anti-racism a core value. Despite our best intentions, we, in the international education community, must admit that we have not done enough to confront and dismantle the racist structures that underpin many of our societies… Our institutional mission statements are centered around words like “interculturalism”, “global citizenship”, and “international mindedness”. The ubiquitous use of these words projects a certain universalism within international education which masks a deeper understanding of cultural differences. The Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC™) describes this as minimization. According to the IDC™, “when minimization exists in organizations, diversity often feels ‘not heard’”.  (Nunana Nyomi)

“The global reckoning on racial justice in 2020 did not spare schools. Indeed, the universal cries for a reckoning on equity in education forced us to conclude, in a variety of equity-centered conversations with school leaders, your house is on fire…With 66% of LGBTQ students experiencing verbal assaults, and over 50% of Asian students reporting bullying in the classroom, school feels unsafe for too many young people….Schools must go deeper than diversity, to consider racially literate and culturally responsive practices that embody respect, appreciation, trust, joy, deep listening -- elements that contribute to meaningful relationships and unleash creativity and innovation.” (Will Richardson and Homa Tavangar, 9 Big Questions Schools Must Answer To Avoid ‘Going Back To Normal’)

Defining equity, diversity and inclusion 

Each school needs to define the terms equity, diversity and inclusion. These are some commonly used definitions, quoted in Know How:

  • Equity means treating people in ways that make sure they are not unfairly prevented from accessing resources and opportunities nor that others have an unfair advantage. Simply providing the same opportunities to everyone is not an effective way to create equality of outcomes. Rather than giving everyone the same thing, it is about giving people what they need for fair access. This is about removing inequalities to make sure everyone has the chance to realise their ambitions.
  • Diversity means having differences within an organisation or setting. Diversity recognises we are all different in many ways. People with differing identities, backgrounds and experiences should all have equitable access to resources and decision-making. Some people prefer to use the term ‘representation’ to focus on how organisations should be reflective of the society we live in and the communities we serve. 
  • Inclusion means being proactive to make sure people of different backgrounds, experiences and identities feel welcomed, respected and fully able to participate. It is not only about creating a diverse environment but also about ensuring a culture exists where individuals can be their full selves.

Intersectionality refers to the fact that a person can have many social identities that overlap. Examples of these identities include (but are not limited to) gender, sex, race, religion, nationality, disability, class. These intersecting and overlapping social identities can lead to systemic oppression (or privilege) that a person may experience. In other words, the obstacles faced by an older black woman are vastly different than those of a younger white man. These two people will view the world differently because of their various social identities.

The term ‘intersectionality’ was coined by legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989. Until that time many people viewed someone’s social identity as a single distinct quality. 

In the following TED Talk Kimberley Crenshaw talks about the compounding effect of different forms of marginalisation. Her talk encourages to reflect on the various depth of identity we have and challenges us to ask what are we going to do to ensure people have a voice.

Reflection: What does diversity, equity and inclusion look like?

The Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools Project (RIDES) started at Harvard University in recognition that having students of different races in school together does not automatically translate to educational equity.

“We believe that true integration is more than diversifying the number and types of bodies in a school building. It is more than having one-off events celebrating minoritized groups, adding stock images of people of color to presentations, or organizing isolated professional development sessions on race and unconscious bias.”

They provide two tools to help develop your work on diversity, equity and inclusion:

(1) Their Systemic Improvement Map allows you to take a whole school approach.

(2) Their ABCD Outcomes provides a framework of four categories to structure your work. They believe true integration is when schools achieve the ABCDs. Click on each of the terms and you will find a lot of very helpful resources. Although produced in the USA they are very helpful for schools around the world.

Academics (Curriculum & Pedagogy): Do all students have strong academic preparation, capitalizing on and connecting to students of all backgrounds, with high levels of knowledge and skills?

Belonging (and psychological safety): Do all students have a strong sense and appreciation of their own culture and heritage, as well as of those of their diverse classmates?

Commitment to dismantling racism and oppression: Do all students understand the role that institutional racism and other forms or oppression play in our society and have the skills, vision, and courage to dismantle them?

Diversity: Do all students appreciate and value different perspectives, thoughts, and people and have friendships and collaborative working relationships with students and adults from different racial and economic backgrounds?

In the following post Trixie Siemens, American International School of Guangzhou, uses an  ‘IMAGINE’ protocol to reflect on what it would mean for a school to operate based on diversity, equity and inclusion principles.

What if …  we were a school where diversity, equity and inclusion were Standard Operating Procedure?

  • students, community members, staff and faculty would feel like their individual differences were valued - and WHERE they could share their differences.
  • voice for any stakeholder would be supported/strengthened/amplified
  • our curriculum would reflect both our international community and our host country culture
  • all policies, from hiring to admissions, would action this value

This is a powerful way to use IMAGINE - What if...? to drive change and provide clear focus. What strikes me is the power to develop identity, belonging, student (all stakeholders!) voice and agency / empowerment.

Links with the IB programme standards and practices:


  • Purpose 1: The governing body and school leaders articulate a purpose for learning that aligns with the IB’s philosophy and mission. (0101-01)
  • Purpose 1.1: The school develops a mission, vision and strategy that reflect the IB mission and philosophy. (0101-01-0100)
  • Purpose 1.2: The school develops a mission, philosophy and/or strategy that includes a holistic approach to education that goes beyond academic development and encourages awareness beyond the individual and the immediate community. (0101-01-0200)
  • Purpose 3: The school community fosters internationally minded people who embody
    all attributes of the IB learner profile. (0101-03)
  • Purpose 3.1: The school ensures that the school community is aware of the IB learner profile and is committed to international-mindedness and its importance in embodying the IB mission. (0101-03-0100)


  • Culture 2: The school implements, communicates and regularly reviews an inclusion policy that creates cultures that support all students to reach their full potential. (0301-02)
  • Culture 2.3: The school describes in its inclusion policy the rights and responsibilities of all members of the school community and clearly states the school’s vision for implementing inclusive programmes. (0301-02-0300)
  • Culture 6: The school implements, communicates and regularly reviews its IB mandated policies to ensure they are cohesive and reflect IB philosophy. (0301-06)
  • Culture 6.6: The school considers international-mindedness in all of its IB-mandated policies. (0301-06-0600)

Issues to consider

This section is written as a professional reflection / inquiry.

  • GUIDING STATEMENTS (Mission | Vision | Values): To what extent could these be enhanced by reference to diversity, equity and inclusion? How are these embedded and articulated in policies and procedures? What does your website say? Start by asking 'why?' are we looking at the school through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion? Which values are we projecting as a school? What are the misconceptions and barriers to discussing issues around diversity, equity and inclusion? 
  • AUDIT: How do you know what students and teachers are experiencing? How do you measure students' experiences of diversity, equity and inclusion in school? Using student voice data can add value to conversations about improving school climate from an equity and inclusion lens. There are various tools on the market, such as the Panorama Equity and Inclusion Survey.
  • CURRICULUM: Christine Counsell notes: "Curriculum is all about power. Decisions about what knowledge to teach are an exercise in power. What we chose to teach confers or denies power."  Conrad Hughes comments: "Decolonising the curriculum is about being more accurate, more inclusive, and more interculturally responsive." Consider what “decolonizing education” looks like in your specific role. Who are the experts you learn from? What sources of knowledge, traditions, practices need to be questioned, added or replaced? What does it mean to you to make the curriculum culturally responsive? How are you making lessons culturally responsive? Identify units of study in each grade that uplift diverse authors, scientists, innovators and thought leaders. Whose work has been overlooked in your traditional canon? How do you articulate what it means to be a global citizen, embody intercultural understanding, transformative citizenship education and international mindedness? Where in the curriculum do you discuss these issues (around race, sexuality, disability etc.)?
  • PEDAGOGY: Do you have a consistent understanding of equity pedagogy? How do you implement equity pedagogy in your classrooms? What are we proactively doing to creates cultures of inclusion in our classrooms?
  • SAFEGUARDING: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is a human rights issue – it is about belonging and identity; it is a child protection issue – because if a child doesn’t feel safe and recognised, they will not be able to thrive. How do we ensure student agency and voice, especially as they relate to ensuring students can speak out about abuse and discrimination? What systems do we have in place, and what do students feel about these systems?
  • LEADERSHIP: What conversations do you have on diversity, equity and inclusion at governors and leadership meetings? How mature is our intercultural competency? How do we ensure a diversity of constituent voices in the decision-making process? What processes do you have in place to recruit for diversity and fostering equitable practices? Do we provide intercultural competency training for staff? Does our staffroom mirror the cultural diversity of our classrooms?


In my opinion, the ‘Equality Emerging’ statue demonstrates inclusion and equally accessible educational opportunities for everyone.

The 'Equality Emerging' statue is located in Galway, Ireland. It was sculpted by John Behan and unveiled in 2011. John’s inspiration originally came from Eddie Higgins and Nuala Keher, who founded a non-profit community and charity organization called ‘Equal Ireland’. The aim of this organization is to provide equal chances for everyone to become educated, in particular for those who have been deprived of proper education, through affordable education and training.

The ‘Equality Emerging’ statue is dedicated to all who are struggling for equality due to one or several obstacles, whether it is themselves, others, or institutions. As depicted, the person sculpted is held back by obstacles surrounding them while they are struggling to fight them and become free.

I chose this statue because I believe it has truly portrayed every person’s equal right to choose, learn, and grow, regardless of their abilities or circumstances. This is the main goal of the inclusion policy implemented for all students who may have been disadvantaged. Inclusive education provides a fair chance to students with learning difficulties to reach their full potential, because everyone should have an equal opportunity to learn. The Special Educational Needs (SEN) policy is a program that challenges the traditional systems of education, in which students with learning difficulties and/or personal/social circumstances may have been deprived of suitable education. This program however, provides an equal chance for all to have access to proper education irrespective of their difficulties or circumstances.

Zahra Chabokrow, Principal and Head of MYP in Mehr-e-Taban International School (MIS), Islamic Republic of Iran.


IB documents

The following documents are available on your MyIB site:

Meeting student learning diversity in the classroom Removing barriers to learning, IB, 2019

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Educational Resources: a curated list of educational resources on various Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) topics. 

The danger of a single story is a great TED Talk to provoke conversation around the single stories we all have.

What is otherness? This article provides a sociological definition of otherness and how it works in societies.

Equity Work: Too Much Talk, Too Little Action, by Jal Mehta, Harvard GSE, for NextGen Learning

Blog—Read Anti racist, responsive leadership in international educationBlog—Read The groundwork for anti-racism: Deep individual and institutional reflection

Blog—Read Beyond 2020: Improving the values and actions of international education worldwide

Blog—Explore a wide range of information and guidance on the CIS Perspectives blog.

Article: Creating a diverse curriculum: A subject-by-subject approach, Stephen Whitney, 21 June 2021

Video—Watch and listen to Jane Larsson and Nunana Nyomi’s candid discussion about their different thoughts and feelings in the days that followed 25 May.

Webinar—Listen to two webinars on Anti-Racist Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Approaches in Schools and Universities that facilitate dialogue among leaders from our school and university communities who have undertaken this work. Find them in the webinar libraries in the CIS Community portal

Guide to Developing a Strategic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, SHRM



All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.