A group of silhouetted people in front of a pale yellow background with coloured, empty speech bubbles over their heads.

Lesson 1: EDI, positionality and intersecting identities

Unpacking EDI

EDI stands for equity, diversity and inclusion.


The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations to have equal access to resources.


The individual differences and group or social differences that can be engaged in the working environment.


The active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity.

To learn more, please see the EDI Glossary from the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

What is positionality?

Positionality refers to how we place ourselves in society in relation to others. This is often based on various social factors such as:









Colourful outlines of people arranged in a group, surrounded by intersectionality descriptors: gender, class, race/ethnicity, language, nationality, mental and physical health, ability, age, and sexuality.

Figure 1: Anti-Racism, EDI, and Positionality – positionality and intersecting identities.

Reflecting on our intersecting identities helps us craft a stronger understanding of our lived experiences, values, and perceptions. Understanding the resulting privilege or oppression attached to our identities is known as intersectionality. This allows us to be more mindful of why we hold certain perceptions or values. Our positionality also influences how we interpret and disseminate knowledge, informing our role as educators. 

Pause and reflect

Take a few moments to pause and reflect on your identities. How do you identify yourself? Then, use the worksheet to map out your social identity. Reflect on your social identity by answering the questions in the worksheet.

Positionality worksheet

Download PDF

Three strategies to mitigate bias

Despite our best intentions, the way we perceive and treat others correlates with the stereotypes that we hold to be true. We may see ourselves as inclusive, unbiased individuals. Unfortunately, we may be unaware of internalized stereotypes that influence our perceptions of or actions towards others.  

But it is possible to challenge those ingrained, unconscious and reductive stereotypes. By doing so, we can begin to treat people as the complex individuals that they are. 


Recognize your biases! When we fail to learn about our biases, we miss opportunities to avoid harm. The Implicit Association Test is an online test that can help you recognize your implicit biases. Try it out below.

Learn how to exchange unconscious biases for different, more inclusive notions. It is possible to challenge those prejudices prior to acting on them. Reading, watching documentaries and listening to podcasts are all accessible ways to extend our knowledge beyond our comfort zone. 

Take Implicit Association Test


Try taking the first-person perspective of a member of a group that you do not identify with. Engaging in real-life, positive interactions with people from varied backgrounds can increase psychological closeness to that group. Increased face-to-face contact with individuals who seem superficially different from you helps undermine implicit bias. 

Focus on the individual characteristics of the person interacting with you to prevent group-based stereotypic inferences. Our social identities intersect with multiple social groupings like sexual orientation, ethnicity and gender. Within these multiplicities, we can find shared identities that bring us closer to people. These might include common responsibilities (e.g., parenting), shared interests (e.g., sports teams), or mutual life experiences (e.g., surviving an illness). 


Acknowledge that differences exist between people and embrace them. Avoid statements such as “I don’t see colour” or other colour-blind messaging. Statements that welcome and embrace diversity are far more successful at decreasing racial bias. 

Image depicting the four systems of oppression (sexism, classism, ableism, and racism) with an arrow titled "power" pointing towards a funnel containing the words “bias (unconscious and conscious)”, “problematic behaviours and action”, prejudice” and “stereotypes”. An arrow at the bottom of the funnel points at the words “discrimination, micro aggressions, bullying, harassment”. An arrow with the words “reinforcement” on it points away from the words, back at the “systems of oppression”.

Figure 2: Anti-Racism, EDI, and Positionality - this visual representation of the manifestation of inequities demonstrates how biases can create oppression and inequities.

Adapted from “Diversity Recruitment in Higher Education” by Critical Equity Consulting.

Summarizing positionality and unlearning bias

Regular reflection on your positionality, assumptions, and bias are necessary starting points for growth. The process is not an easy one. Being open about our biases can trigger defensiveness, doubt and fear. Acknowledging that you participate and benefit from systems that create privilege and advantage can feel threatening or upsetting. This type of work can mean taking a close look at the relationships you have and the institutions you are a part of.

Lesson checklist

  • Define EDI and positionality   

  • Map out your social identity by completing the Pause and Reflect worksheet

  • Consider strategies to mitigate and challenge your own biases

  • Review additional resources


Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). (2022). https://www.aacu.org

More lessons

Colourful silhouettes of people in different coloured thought and speech bubbles, on a pale yellow background.

Lesson 2: What is racism?

Colourful silhouettes of several people passing by each other, in front of a pale yellow background.

Lesson 3: Anti-racism in teaching and learning

A group of silhouetted people in front of a pale yellow background with coloured, empty speech bubbles over their heads.

Lesson 1: EDI, positionality and intersecting identities