Diversity and Multiculturalism

Diversity is who we are. It is quantitative. It is defined by “otherness.” Most obviously it is determined by race, gender, and culture. On a more subtle level, it includes class, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and appearance. As a democratic nation we define ourselves through diversity. We believe in equal opportunity and equal access. Diversity exists in spite of, and sometimes because of, the action we take.

Multiculturalism is an evolving process. It is qualitative. It is the shift that occurs when we stop defining everyone by one cultural norm and move to an understanding of multiple norms. Critical to this process is the breaking down of systemic barriers to equity and justice. Chief among these are the various “isms,” such as racism and sexism. Multiculturalism exists only when we make an informed commitment to change.

Inclusivity is building and sustaining communities in policies, programs, and practices. Diversity (the numbers) is the foundation from which to establish and sustain inclusivity.

Equity and Justice focuses on empowerment and co-ownership of the community in strategically building on and sustaining diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusivity.

In order for independent schools to thrive in the 21st century, NAIS believes that they must be sustainable along five dimensions: financial, demographic, programmatic, environmental, and global. Schools can work toward demographic sustainability by becoming more inclusive, providing greater accessibility financially and socially, developing a school climate in and out of the classroom that is supportive of a diverse student and faculty body, implementing a coordinated admission marketing strategy, and promoting a more flexible work environment.

The Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice define high standards and guide ethical behavior.