Top 5 Diversity and Inclusion buzzwords for 2018


2018 is well underway and there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a big year in the diversity and inclusion world.


I’ve been in the D&I industry for 13 years now, and every year there seems to be a shift in thought leadership and what the new “thing” is.

While we look forward, I’m aware that there can also be a lot of jargon thrown around by people who have worked in the industry for as long as I have.

A few weeks ago I looked at the top five D&I buzzwords used in 2017 – now I’m looking ahead to some I’ve already seen emerging in 2018:



Intersectionality refers to multiple layers of discrimination when an individual’s identity overlaps with a number of minority groups.

For example, a black woman working in the male dominated industry of technology being treated differently not only because she is a woman but also because of her race.

In short, discrimination compounds and overlaps.

This increasingly used buzzword was first coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989.

In order to highlight the meaning of intersectionality; Crenshaw frequently refers to a case from 1976: Degraffenreid vs General Motors.

The case involved five African American women who were suing car manufacturer General Motors for racial and gender discrimination in their roles as secretaries.

The courts shockingly found that the women weren’t discriminated against, because of the fact that General Motors employed African American factory workers.

However, the courts hadn’t taken into account that the majority of secretaries were white women, and the factory workers were all men.



If you’re shorter than I am, and we both attend a horse racing event, but your view of the races is blocked because you can’t see over the fence, is that equal?

Perhaps it would be fairer if you were provided with a block to stand on so that we can both have the same view over the fence.

This is equity.

The fact is, treating people equally doesn’t always result in equality.

Read more about equity vs equality here.


Artificial intelligence

As we all know, every single one of us has unconscious bias of some kind.

We make associations based on past experiences, causing us to make decisions without being consciously aware.

Bias can be especially prevalent in the recruitment process, whereby we favour one person over another without even realising that our subconscious has been discriminatory.

Therefore the recent notions of artificial intelligence being used to remove bias in areas such as recruitment processes, sounds like a godsend right?!

Correct – when everything goes to plan that is.

Problem is that it doesn’t always go to plan.

In 2015 a black software developer highlighted that Google had labelled photos of him and another black friend as gorillas.

Take Vicente Ordóñez, a computer science professor from the University of Virginia, who demonstrated that his own programmed AI had not only learnt but amplified gender biases – he had accidentally programmed his software to associate women with images of kittens.

It’s clear that we need to monitor the development of such technologies closely to ensure they serve the purpose they were designed for.

Using AI to remove bias is no doubt a huge step in the right direction, look at Lead for Career: a US based company that have developed the first AI-enabled social platform to empower women in the workplace.


EQ / Emotional Intelligence

EQ, short for Emotional Quotient, and often referred to as Emotional Intelligence, is a core measure of what it takes to be an effective inclusive leader.

It is the ability of a person to recognise, understand, empathise, and react to how people are feeling: including themselves.

Read more about the difference between IQ and EQ here.


Imposter Syndrome

Amongst the 32,000 women I have mentored over the past 13 years, I regularly come across women at all stages in their careers who have imposter syndrome.

Women, and often men too, feel that they are ‘frauds’ and are not worthy of the role and position they are operating in.

Some feel that they have arrived at where they are due to sheer luck, leading to a feeling deep down inside that they are inadequate.

People who suffer from imposter syndrome often fall into one of the below architypes:

• The ‘perfectionist’ – often a micromanager, the ‘perfectionist’ feels their work must be 100% all the time.
• The workaholic – feels the need to work long hours to prove their worth, and often sacrifices important personal time to do so.
• The ‘right first timers’ – always high achievers, they feel that they have failed if they do not complete a job perfectly and with ease. In other words, if something requires a trial and error approach, or a lot of hard work, they feel they have failed as they aren’t succeeding immediately.
• The ‘autonomous’ – this group dislikes teamwork, and feels as though they need to complete tasks by themselves.
• The ‘expert’ – this group fears being seen as inexperienced or unknowledgeable, they therefore try to meet 100% of the job criteria when applying for roles, and constantly seek to undertake extra training

In order to eliminate imposter syndrome, it’s important for people to shift their mind-set from negative to positive and accept their own achievements and capabilities.

The my mentor: Courageous Woman program does just that – and has proven results: one client had 40% of their women promoted within just 3 months of completing the program! Get in touch today to find out more.

These are my top five buzzwords for 2018 in the diversity and inclusion industry – what are yours?


This article is written by Maureen Frank, Chief Disruption Officer and Founder of emberin.

Maureen is an entrepreneur, speaker, best selling author, and proud founder of emberin. As a global leading international diversity and inclusion expert, she has mentored over 32,000 individuals. She’s a highly successful business woman: former Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for Aon in the UK and Australia, Telstra Business Woman of the Year, and BRW Rising Star.

Maureen has a ROI obsession, having established over a dozen diversity councils in major organisations, personally coached CEOs and supported clients to achieve real business results – including increasing the number of women in senior roles at Telstra from 6% to 31% in just two years.

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