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DEI and gender balance glossary

Aurora50 glossary
Suzanne Locke 15 November 2022


Allyship is about aligning yourself, as an ally, to marginalised groups to which you do not belong. It is supporting such groups and taking action on their behalf. In the workplace, allyship is crucial for inclusion and equality, and allies can recognise the advantage of privilege and be active, engaged bystanders willing to constantly learn. See also Inclusive leadership.
[Related: Men & allyship]

COP 28

The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) is scheduled to take place from 6-17 November 2023 at Dubai Expo City in the UAE. The UAE is the second country in the Middle East to host a COP session after COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; its winning bid was announced at COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was formed at the Rio Summit in 1992 to tackle climate change. It has 198 member countries and COP is its leading decision-making body.
The Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change that legally binds all parties involved in its goal of limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, was adopted during COP 21 in Paris in 2015. The UAE was the first Arab world nation to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement
COP 28 will and must be a “solutions COP”, according to HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.
The UAE was one of the first countries in the MENA region to sign up to Net Zero 2050, the aim of which is to make the UAE carbon-neutral by 2050.

Design thinking

Design thinking is a process for solving problems by prioritising the consumer’s needs above all else. It relies on observing with empathy, how people interact with their environments, and employees an iterative, hands-on approach to creating innovative solutions.
Aurora50 uses design thinking in its own business and as part of its training.


Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a term most commonly associated with diversity initiatives in the workplace. It is also known as DE&I, D&I (diversity and inclusion), DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access or Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility), EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion), DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) and JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion).
Diverse and inclusive organisations have been proven time and time again to outperform their peers and will activate the entire organisation’s collective intelligence. Aurora50 is all about developing inclusive leaders and workplaces: if you’re looking for information on this topic on the Aurora50 site, search for ‘DEI’. See also allyship, equity, ERGs, inclusive leadership and unconscious bias.


Equality means everyone gets the same, regardless of whether it is right for them. Think of it as everyone getting a shoe – but not necessarily one that fits. See equity for Aurora50’s preferred focus, and DEI.


Equity means everyone getting what they need, considering all barriers and circumstances. Think of it as everyone getting a shoe that actually fits. #embraceequity was the International Women’s Day hashtag for 2023. See also equality and DEI.
[Find related Aurora50 stories on equity]


Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led groups that aim to make a workplace more inclusive. ERGs tend to be created for minorities or those who may not be widely represented within an organisation.
Almost 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies were using ERGs as of 2016, according to a Bentley University report. See also DEI, allyship, equity, imposter syndrome, inclusive leadership and unconscious bias.


ESG – environment, social and governance – is a phrase coined in 2005. ESG is about considering environmental, social and governance factors alongside financial factors in the investment decision-making process.
Companies are scored on their ESG rating to measure their impact on society, the environment and how transparent and accountable they are, and this is often a target for companies Aurora50 works with. The ‘S” in ESG replaced older corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which could not be measured so well.
Since 2019, internet searches for ‘ESG’ have increased fivefold. Some 92 percent of S&P 500 companies published ESG reports in some form in 2021, as did 70 percent of Russell 1000 companies, according to Governance & Accountability Institute (G&A). In a number of countries and jurisdictions, reporting ESG elements is either mandatory or under active consideration.
An ESG rating is designed to measure a company’s resilience to ESG risks. Companies are ESG-rated by several companies; MSCI is the most widely referenced. MSCI translates the numerical score it gives a company into an ESG rating, from CCC to AAA – leaders have AA and AAA scores. The ratings are also grouped into three segments: laggard, average and leader.

Executive director

An executive director is a board director of a company or organisation but is also a member of its executive management team, as opposed to a non-executive director or independent director who bring more independent thought to the role. See also independent director and NED.

Imposter syndrome

Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes coined the term ‘impostor syndrome’ in the Seventies.
It describes that feeling of being a fraud. Those suffering think they’re going to be ‘found out’ – that they are not really competent, and that they are not entitled to their accomplishments.
Imposter syndrome is linked to perfectionism and anxiety, and afflicts women more than men. Successful people tend to suffer more.
Some 25 to 30 percent of high achievers may suffer from imposter syndrome. And 70 percent of adults may experience it at least once, according to research.

Five imposter archetypes:

  1. Perfectionist: Has to have everything go 100 percent right. Anything that has the potential for any error or failure will mean they do not start the task. They cannot risk even a one percent chance of something not being perfect. A very debilitating imposter type.
  2. Superhero: Feels they have to be a super mum, a super exec, a super sister, super daughter… High-achieving men and women with superhero syndrome can put excessive energy into doing many things, trying to be good at everything. Really, they don’t feel good at anything inside.
  3. Expert: Seeks to be knowledgeable at everything. Feels like a failure when they have any gaps in their knowledge.
  4. Natural genius: Tend to be those people to whom everything came naturally early on. They sailed through exams without revising, and set a pattern to achieve with minimal effort. This creates a lot of internal pressure as natural geniuses move into their business lives. It produces a sense of shame when things get difficult, or when business circumstances change (such as during the pandemic). With no playbook, they start to have moments of self-doubt or withdrawal.
  5. Soloist: Doesn’t want help with anything and is very independent. The soloist sees asking for help as being weak or failing. They disguise things they’re struggling with in business. A soloist can be tough for a board – they don’t know how to contribute to the group or solve together.

Inclusive leadership

Inclusive leadership is a style of leadership that considers the perspectives of all team members. It embraces individual differences to improve collaboration and problem-solving – and potentially gives the business a competitive advantage.
Deloitte lists six signature traits of an inclusive leader: visible commitment, humility, awareness of bias, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence and effective collaboration. It says what leaders say and do makes up to a 70 percent difference in whether an individual reports feeling included. See also allyship.

Independent director

A non-executive director is a board member of a company but not a member of its executive management team. They are still not necessarily an independent one; a NED could represent a major shareholder or be a director within the same group of companies in which they work. An independent director is a member of a board of directors who does not have a material relationship with the company and is neither part of its executive team nor involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. See also executive director and NED.

NED (non-executive director)

A non-executive director is a board member of a company but not a member of its executive management team. They are still not necessarily an independent one; a NED could represent a major shareholder or be a director within the same group of companies in which they work. An independent director is a member of a board of directors who does not have a material relationship with the company and is neither part of its executive team nor involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.
The UK Corporate Governance Code (the Code) states that the role of NEDs is to constructively challenge and help develop proposals on strategy. See also independent director and executive director.


The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals – from zero hunger to clean water – created as a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. The SDGs were set up in 2015 and fall under the UN 2030 Agenda, by which date they are intended to be achieved.
The UAE has aligned itself to the UN SDGs, first in Vision 2021 for the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, and then in its Vision 2071 for the UAE centennial.
Aurora50’s Pathway20 accelerator – which prepares regional women board directors for their first independent board role – is directly aligned to SDG-5, gender equality. With Aurora50 now covering all diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, we see our work also falling under:
  • SDG-16 (peace, justice and strong institutions)
  • SDG-10 (reduced inequalities)
  • SDG-4 (quality education and lifelong learning)
  • SDG-8 (decent work and economic growth)
  • and even SDG-3 (good health and wellbeing).
  • SDG-13, climate action, also sits well with environment, social and corporate governance (ESG).


A special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is a publicly traded company created for the purpose of acquiring or merging with an existing company.
Also known as ‘blank cheque companies’, the popularity of SPACs has soared in recent years. In 2020, 247 SPACs were created in the US with $80 billion invested, compared to 59 in 2019; in 2021, there were 613 SPAC IPOs.

Unconscious bias

How a person thinks can depend on their life experiences. Sometimes they have beliefs and views about other people based on social or identity groups that might not be right or reasonable. This is known as unconscious bias or implicit bias.
Unconscious bias training is a key tenet of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work, but it should be combined with pragmatic solutions to the bias.
Some types of unconscious bias:
  • Affinity bias
  • Ageism
  • Anchor bias
  • Attribution bias
  • Authority bias
  • Beauty bias
  • Confirmation bias
  • Conformity bias
  • Contrast effect
  • Gender bias
  • Height bias
  • Name bias
  • Non-verbal bias
  • Over-confidence bias
By-products of unconscious bias can be the ‘halo effect’ and its opposite, the ‘horn effect’. In the halo effect, we can believe that one redeeming quality of a person means all their attributes are exceptional (such as their place of education or previous employer). With the horn effect, one negative feature of an individual can give us a ‘bad feeling’ about them generally.

Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs)

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) were set up by UN Women and the UN Global Compact Office. They act as a public declaration of support for key actions to drive gender diversity, from establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality to promoting the education, training and professional development of women and publicly reporting progress. UAE signatories include ADNOC, Chalhoub Group, Dubai Financial Market (DFM), DP World, e& (Etisalat), EGA, Masdar and Shurooq.
  1. Principle 1: High-level corporate leadership
  2. Principle 2: Treat all women and men fairly at work without discrimination
  3. Principle 3: Employee health, wellbeing and safety
  4. Principle 4: Education and training for gender equality
  5. Principle 5: Enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices
  6. Principle 6: Community initiatives and advocacy
  7. Principle 7: Measurement and reporting
See also UN SDGs.