The following terms and phrases appear throughout all Viewfinder surveys. These definitions are provided to help ensure proper understanding of questions and garner accurate responses.

Viewfinder Survey Definitions Index


A tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others, which usually results in treating some people unfairly.


Climate-related factors internal to and within the control of the individual colleges and universities, such as history and legacy of inclusion or exclusion, compositional or structural diversity, psychological dimensions, behavioral dimensions, and diversity leadership.

Cultural Competence

The ability to effectively deliver education or services that meet social, cultural, and linguistic needs of those being educated or served.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.


Any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. Fundamentally, diversity means respect for and appreciation of differences in age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin that are recognized by laws and policies.

Employee Resource/Affinity Group

A voluntary, employee-led group that serves as a resource for members and organizations by fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace that is aligned with the organizational mission, values, goals, and business practices.

Gender Identity

A person’s perception of having a gender, which may or may not correspond with their sex at birth.

Governing Board

An executive group charged with acting effectively and ethically in its duties related to overseeing the institution’s mission, fiscal integrity, and educational quality and to recruiting, supporting, and evaluating the chief executive.


A form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. It is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetics.


An organizational effort and practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds—including national origin, age, race, ethnicity, religion/beliefs, gender, marital status, socioeconomic status, and even personality—are culturally and socially accepted, welcomed, and treated equally.

International Employee

 A person who is sponsored to work in the United States by their employer. This includes people in H1B, TN, or O1 status as well as those who are pending employment-based U.S. permanent residency.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual or identify with other terms such as genderqueer, non-binary, or other sexual orientation terms.


Manifestations of prejudice and hatred that are brief and/or subtle but great in the power or magnitude of their consequences.


The presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.


A person identifying with two or more races as their primary identity.

Naturalized U.S. Citizen

A foreign person who is granted U.S. citizenship after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

On-boarding Process

The process through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members.

Partnered/Civil Union

A legally recognized arrangement similar to marriage.

Person of Color

A person who is not white or of European parentage.

Psychological Disability

Mental disorders or conditions that influence our emotions, cognitions, and/or behaviors, which may include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.


Punishment for asserting your rights to be free from discrimination, including harassment.

Sexual Assault

Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

Sexual Identity

How people think of themselves in terms of whom they are romantically or sexually attracted to.

Spiritual Affiliation

Commitment to or relating to a way of life dedicated to religious vows or principles.


An individual’s or group’s theory of the world, used for living in the world and framing a mental model of reality, ideas, and attitudes.