Agency and Advocacy - Definition and Explanation

Agency and Advocacy – Definition and Explanation

Understanding Agency and Advocacy in DEI: A Comprehensive Guide

In the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), two pivotal concepts are Agency and Advocacy. These terms hold significant importance in fostering an inclusive environment and promoting social justice. 

Defining Agency and Advocacy:

  1. Agency: Agency refers to the capacity of individuals or groups to act independently and make choices that influence their lives and the world around them. In the context of DEI, agency empowers marginalised individuals to assert their rights, voice their experiences, and actively participate in decision-making processes.
  2. Advocacy: Advocacy involves actively supporting a cause or promoting a particular viewpoint to bring about social change. In DEI, advocacy focuses on challenging systemic barriers, fighting against discrimination, and amplifying the voices of marginalised communities to create a more equitable society.

The Importance of Agency and Advocacy in DEI:

  1. Empowerment: Agency empowers individuals to take control of their narratives and advocate for their rights within organisations and society. It fosters a sense of ownership and self-determination among marginalised groups, enabling them to challenge oppressive structures and demand equality.
  2. Amplifying Voices: Advocacy serves as a catalyst for change by amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities. It raises awareness about issues of injustice, discrimination, and inequality, compelling organisations and policymakers to address systemic inequities and implement inclusive policies and practices.
  3. Driving Systemic Change: Both agency and advocacy play a crucial role in driving systemic change. By empowering individuals to advocate for their rights and challenging discriminatory practices, these concepts contribute to dismantling institutional barriers and creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

Example of Agency and Advocacy in Action:

Consider an LGBTQ+ employee who experiences discrimination and harassment in the workplace due to their sexual orientation. Through agency, they assert their rights by documenting instances of discrimination, seeking support from allies and advocacy groups, and engaging in open dialogue with their employer to address the issue.

Simultaneously, advocacy organisations work to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ rights, lobby for inclusive workplace policies, and hold corporations accountable for creating safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ employees. Through collective agency and advocacy efforts, meaningful change is achieved, leading to a more inclusive workplace culture and fostering greater acceptance and understanding within society.


In the pursuit of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, agency and advocacy serve as powerful tools for driving positive change and fostering a more equitable society. By empowering individuals to assert their rights, amplify their voices, and advocate for systemic change, we can create workplaces and communities where diversity is celebrated, and all individuals have the opportunity to thrive. Embracing agency and advocacy is not just a moral imperative but a strategic necessity for organisations committed to DEI principles.


Day, L. (2006). Advocacy, agency, and collaboration. American Journal of Critical Care15(4), 428-430.

Davis, K. A. (Ed.). (2011). Critical qualitative research in second language studies: Agency and advocacy. IAP.

Morley, L., & Croft, A. (2011). Agency and advocacy: Disabled students in higher education in Ghana and Tanzania. Research in Comparative and International Education6(4), 383-399.

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