University of Illinois System

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

The University of Illinois System Offices recognize as core to our guiding principles a responsibility to foster an open and welcoming environment where all members of its community are appreciated and can serve, learn, and grow together. To do so, we centralize our work in diversity, equity, inclusion, & belonging (DEI&B) and embed it into all aspects of our services because all of us together make the University of Illinois System altogether extraordinary.  


Diversity is the unique set of experiences, skills, talents, perspectives, and cultures that each employee brings to the System Office. It is how we create a dynamic work and business environment to serve our community.

Key Elements of Diversity

  • The practice or quality of including and/or involving individuals from a range of differences related to race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
  • Recognizing that everyone has a unique personality, perspective, and set of experiences.
  • Diversity is about moving beyond tolerance to accepting, embracing, and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within everyone.
  • Encompasses respect and acceptance that every human being has inherent worth and potential.
  • Welcomes and explores differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.


Equity refers to fair and just practices and policies that ensure all employees can thrive. Equity is different from equality in that equality implies treating everyone the same. Equity means acknowledging and addressing the fact that everyone does not have the same starting points and opportunities due to historical and current structural inequalities that benefit some and disadvantage others. Talent is found everywhere but growth and expression of talent can be limited by inequalities. Equity acknowledges this fact and works to level the playing field so that everyone has a fair shot.

Key Elements of Equity:

  • Equity requires attention to disparate impact, differential access and opportunities afforded to various communities, as well as structural and systemic barriers that limit potential and possibilities.
  • While equality means treating everyone the same, regardless of need or any other individual difference, equity means everyone is provided with the means to be able to be successful.
  • Achieving equity is closely tied to personal experiences - it requires understanding everyone’s needs and designing experiences that will help everyone achieve success.


Inclusion is a set of behaviors that leverage and honor the uniqueness of people’s different talents, beliefs, and ways of living. Inclusion is a sustained practice where all members of its community can participate and achieve their full potential. Without it, it can lead people to not feel part of the organization and leave. Diversity does not stick without inclusion.

Key Elements of Inclusion:

  • Respecting and valuing the unique dimension that each employee adds to the organization.
  • Recognizing that employees are at their creative and productive best when they work in an inclusive work environment.
  • Including others in collaboration and co-creation processes to maximize individual and collective contributions.
  • Promoting values and practices that demonstrate openness, respect, collaboration, and appreciation of the validity of different points of view.
  • Amplifying the voices of those not at the table.


A sense of belonging is a basic human need that we all have in common. Belonging is something employees can feel depending on not only inclusive efforts, but also on how they are treated. Where inclusion is mostly about policies and practices, a sense of belonging makes people feel safe and gives them the ability to have a voice while being their authentic selves. Simply put, it’s not enough for everyone to have a seat at the table (inclusion), everyone at the table must be able to have a voice or ability to share their thoughts.

Key Elements of Belonging:

  • Engaging diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a culture and environment where people are valued and honored for the improvement of our work, society, and world.
  • Is an outcome of all diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
  • Employees feel they can be themselves at work, be a part of a team, and feel like they belong there.
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