Understanding the different diversity characteristics

The 4 Types of Diversity

There are numerous factors that we may encounter when looking at diversity—some characteristics are easily visible, from the outside, while others may just be a part of the way people have been born and raised.

The four types of diversity each have their own list of different applicable characteristics.

#1 Internal Diversity

Internal diversity characteristics simply relate to situations or backgrounds an individual is born into. They usually are features that one didn’t choose for themselves when they were born or that may be impossible for anyone to change.

Here are some examples of internal diversity characteristics:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Cultural identity
  • Assigned sex
  • Gender identity
  • Physical ability
  • Mental ability

#2 External Diversity

In the context of diversity and inclusion, we use the term external to describe features that relate to an individual but aren’t features that a person was innately born with (although they may be born within that community). External diversity characteristics can be strongly influenced by other people and by their surroundings and experiences, however they ultimately are characteristics that a person can change over time.

Some examples of external diversity include:

  • Personal interests
  • Education
  • Appearance
  • Citizenship
  • Religious beliefs
  • Location
  • Familial status
  • Relationship status
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Life experiences

#3 Organizational Diversity

Organizational diversity links to the differences between people that are assigned to them by an organization (often within the workplace).

There are a number of subcategories within organizational diversity, including:

  • Job function
  • Place of work
  • Management status
  • Employment status
  • Pay type
  • Seniority
  • Affiliation to a union

#4 Worldview Diversity

The fourth type of diversity is described as worldview. There are several factors that come together to define our worldview, including those described above (our internal, external, and organizational diversity characteristics), but at the end of the day, each of us has a worldview that we align with.

This diversity type changes with time—we look at the world differently as we have new experiences and as we learn more about ourselves and each other.

Some examples include:

  • Political beliefs
  • Moral compass and ethical values
  • Philosophical views