The acronyms for diversity may begin to feel like alphabet soup. Yet for any HR leader, knowing the difference is the key to supporting your DEI workforce. While each acronym (DEI, EDI, DEIA, DEIB, or JEDI) help to establish belonging and equal opportunity in working environments for minorities, they each follow a different mindset that alters how corporations achieve their goals.

The Evolution From D&I to DEI

In the early ‘90s and 2000s, diversity and inclusion (D&I) was the acronym used to describe a diversity-focused program. Millennials entering the workforce were a heavy influence on its popularity. Not only do they make up 21% of the U.S Population, but they also are 44% minority. They also questioned the policies in place and if they included everyone. 

Then, around 2015, D&I shifted into DEI. Again the influence of a new generation, Gen Z, entering the workforce impacted the change. This new age of workers is even more diverse,  51% minority, and holds a strong interest in social justice. 

As the workforce grew more diverse, the acronym to accurately represent these initiatives must reflect every individual, not just racial and ethnic minorities. 

What is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)?

One common pitfall with DEI is that some people focus only on diversity over equity and inclusion. It is just the tip of the iceberg to hire more diverse talent. If those diverse individuals do not have the same resources or opportunities for growth as their peers, then no amount of diversity can improve a company’s culture. 

Some corporations, including Medium and Center for Creative Leadership, prefer to use the acronym EDI. Equity, in some ways, can lay the foundation for diversity. Policies that equally affect every individual regardless or race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, or ability instill any environment with the power to grow. 

What is Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Ability (DEIA)?

You may recognize diversity, equity, inclusion, and ability (DEIA) from the recent change on the Federal level to include people with disabilities. In June 2021, an Executive Order required  DEIA in the Federal workforce. It states, “the Federal Government must be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, where all employees are treated with dignity and respect. Accordingly, the Federal Government must strengthen its ability to recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain our Nation’s talent and remove barriers to equal opportunity.”

Often, people with disabilities are discounted from diversity discussions. We forget there is always more to a person besides their physical appearance. Intersectionality in identities is what makes us whole. The more we acknowledge every aspect of identity, the more inclusive our workforce will become. 

What is Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)?

On the surface, belonging may seem identical to inclusion. So, why add belonging if we already include everyone? The concept behind belonging is to instill a feeling of community, not only the ability to have community. Inclusion asks if everyone receives mentorship, access to benefits, or promotions. Belonging asks if people feel they can show up as their authentic selves at work. 

Company culture can greatly affect employee retention. No one wants to feel like they are hiding themselves in order to get a paycheck. Belonging implements team bonding activities, consistent gratitude, and personal investment in each other’s lives. 

However, Gallup’s survey from 2022 found that only 33% of employees feel their organization is committed to improving their workplace. Establishing a sense of belonging is still a long way off for some companies, and just like any DEI initiative, it takes time, resources, and consistent commitment to realize.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)

A shift to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) started to rise in popularity during the summer of 2020, especially after George Floyd’s death. Social justice for BIPOC individuals and other minorities was particularly common in Academic discussions. 

A letter from the student body to Stanford University’s president and provost asked for the creation of the Office of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Their purpose was to go beyond the original initiatives and “stand as a clear co-conspirator to justice and equity initiatives from marginalized trainees, staff and faculty.” 

As well as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which held a committee meeting in 2020. The goal of the meeting was to “represent and be supported by the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI).”

While social justice massively impacts how corporations approach diversity, equity, and inclusion, the acronym JEDI raises some questions. The acronym’s connection to the Star Wars Franchise has some groups questioning if it is appropriate. Jedi are presented as the heroes of the galaxy, but that is not what justice refers to regarding DEI. 

Justice acknowledges and incorporates pressing social issues into the workforce. The goal is to acknowledge the barriers from systemic discrimination, racism, and more that bar diverse talent from access to resources or opportunities. Yet, the idea of heroes inherently suggests there is an evil to vanquish. JEDI is about developing an environment of compassion, education, and inclusivity that accepts each other’s differences. 

Ultimately, each acronym encourages corporations to build workplace cultures that offer equal opportunity and community. Everyone wants to show up as their authentic selves, and a continual effort to support that is always better than nothing. Choosing one of DEI, EDI, DEIA, DEIB, or JEDI is a step in the right direction.

Interested in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce at your company? The Professional Diversity Network has been helping employers build productive and diverse workforces since 2003. Contact us today to find out how we can help with your unique needs.