Agency in Diversity Initiatives - Definition and Explanation - The Oxford Review - OR Briefings

Agency in Diversity Initiatives – Definition and Explanation

Understanding Agency in Diversity Initiatives: Empowering Voices for Inclusive Change

In the sphere of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the term “agency” carries significant weight. Agency refers to an individual or group’s capacity to act independently and make choices that influence their lives and environments. When applied to diversity initiatives, agency emphasises empowering marginalised communities to take active roles in shaping their own narratives and driving inclusive change.


In the context of diversity initiatives, agency revolves around granting marginalised individuals or groups the power to participate in decision-making processes that directly affect them. It acknowledges their inherent ability to advocate for their rights, voice their concerns, and contribute to fostering a more inclusive environment. Agency in DEI efforts is about recognising and amplifying diverse perspectives, experiences, and talents to drive meaningful and sustainable change.

Key Components:

  1. Voice and Representation: Agency entails ensuring that marginalised individuals have a platform to voice their opinions, concerns, and aspirations. It involves representation at all levels of decision-making, from boardrooms to community meetings, where diverse perspectives are not only heard but also valued and integrated into strategies and policies.
  2. Empowerment and Ownership: Empowering marginalised communities means providing them with the resources, support, and opportunities needed to take ownership of their narratives and initiatives. This may involve offering training, mentorship, and leadership development programmes tailored to their specific needs, thereby fostering self-reliance and resilience.
  3. Collaborative Engagement: Agency flourishes in environments where collaboration and partnership are prioritised. Diversity initiatives should facilitate collaborative efforts between different stakeholders, including community members, organisations, and policymakers, to co-create solutions that address systemic inequalities and promote equity and inclusion.


Imagine a tech company committed to enhancing diversity and inclusion in its workforce. Instead of implementing top-down diversity programmes, the company adopts a participatory approach, where employees from underrepresented backgrounds are actively involved in decision-making processes related to recruitment, retention, and career development.

Through employee resource groups and diversity councils, these individuals have the agency to voice their experiences, advocate for inclusive policies, and spearhead initiatives that promote diversity within the company. This inclusive approach not only empowers employees to take ownership of their workplace environment but also fosters a culture of belonging and innovation.


Incorporating agency into diversity initiatives is not merely about token representation or surface-level gestures. It’s about recognising the inherent worth and capacity of marginalised individuals and communities to drive meaningful change. By empowering diverse voices, fostering collaboration, and promoting ownership, organisations and institutions can create more inclusive environments where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

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