Altruism - Definition and Explanation - The Oxford Review - OR Briefings

Altruism – Definition and Explanation

Understanding Altruism: Definition, Examples, and Importance in DEI

Altruism, a fundamental aspect of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) endeavours, embodies the selfless concern for the well-being of others. 


Altruism refers to the practice of prioritising the needs and welfare of others above one’s own interests, without expecting anything in return. It involves acts of kindness, compassion, and empathy towards individuals or groups, irrespective of differences in race, gender, or background.

Significance in DEI:

In the realm of DEI, altruism plays a pivotal role in creating environments where diversity is celebrated, equity is upheld, and inclusion is fostered. By embodying altruistic principles, organisations can cultivate a culture of empathy and support, where every individual feels valued and respected.


  1. Community Service Initiatives: Volunteer programmes aimed at supporting marginalised communities exemplify altruism in action. Whether it’s organising food drives for low-income families or mentoring disadvantaged youth, these initiatives demonstrate a genuine commitment to improving the lives of others.
  2. Diversity Advocacy: Individuals or groups advocating for diversity and inclusion within their workplaces or communities exhibit altruistic behaviour. By championing the voices of underrepresented minorities and striving for equal opportunities, they contribute to creating more equitable and inclusive spaces for all.
  3. Supporting Social Causes: Donating time, resources, or expertise to social causes such as environmental conservation, human rights, or healthcare access showcases altruism. These acts of generosity and compassion reflect a commitment to addressing systemic injustices and promoting the well-being of society as a whole.

Importance of Altruism in DEI:

Altruism serves as a catalyst for meaningful change within DEI efforts by fostering collaboration, empathy, and mutual support. It encourages individuals to look beyond their own perspectives and actively engage in efforts to uplift others, thereby dismantling barriers to inclusion and promoting social justice.


Altruism lies at the heart of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, embodying the values of empathy, compassion, and solidarity. By embracing altruistic principles and taking tangible actions to support others, we can contribute to building more equitable and inclusive communities where everyone thrives. Let us strive to cultivate a culture of altruism, where acts of kindness and empathy pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive future.


Kerr, B., Godfrey-Smith, P., & Feldman, M. W. (2004). What is altruism?. Trends in ecology & evolution19(3), 135-140.

Krebs, D. L. (1970). Altruism: An examination of the concept and a review of the literature. Psychological bulletin73(4), 258.

Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature425(6960), 785-791.

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