Digital inclusion glossary 

This is Digital Unite’s interpretation of key terms. 


Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR)

CDR is relatively ‘new’ – we have not seen reference to it as distinct from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) pre-2019.  

In 2020 the pandemic surfaced CDR as being critically important, for widespread business practice and adoption – whatever sector that business is in, public or private or third sector – in the interests of the citizen and society as a whole.  

Michael Wade, Professor of Innovation and Strategy IMD Business School defines CDR very usefully as “a set of practices and behaviors that help an organization use data and digital technologies in a way that is socially, economically, technologically, and environmentally responsible.  

The social domain of CDR “involves an organization’s relationship to people and society. The vital topic of data privacy protection of customers, employees, and other stakeholders is included in this area. It also incorporates aspects of digital diversity and inclusion, such as bridging an increasing divide between digital haves and have-nots across geographies, industries, social classes, and age demographics.”  

See an excellent extract from a longer paper, which includes a very useful graphical description of the four domains of CDR  on  


Digital divide

The gap between those who are digitally included and those who are not. Those suffering some form of social exclusion are more likely to also be digitally excluded. The most common contributory factors are age, education, disability, income.  


Digital exclusion

The lack of digital inclusion – when one or more of the five aspects of digital inclusion are not met. The digitally excluded lack participation and representation in a digital world. The digitally excluded are more likely to be more widely socially excluded also. Digital exclusion compounds social exclusion. 


Digital inclusion (DI)

Digital inclusion means ensuring that the benefits of using digital technologies are available to everyone. At Digital Unite, we believe that digital inclusion has five main components:  

  • access to kit and connectivity ‘I have access to a digital device, I can connect it to the Internet.’ 
  • economic ability/ affordability ‘I can afford to have and use the device and the Internet.’ 
  • knowledge and context ‘I understand why and when using them would be useful or beneficial.’ 
  • motivation and confidence ‘I am motivated and confident to use them on my own.’ 
  • skills ‘I have the skills, including digital skills, to use digital technologies on my own.’ 


Digital Inclusion Employee Volunteering  

Digital inclusion employee volunteering – using employee volunteering to raise awareness of and support the delivery of digital inclusion within the community  

Employer supported digital inclusion volunteering – employers supporting employees (with time, resources and/or training and related opportunities) to promote and support digital inclusion in the community 


Digital Skills 

Foundation Skills – such as ‘I can turn on a device on my own’ - described as a pre-requisite to Essential Digital Skills, see below. 

Basic Digital Skills – this terminology has been superseded and these are now called Essential Digital Skills, see below. 

Essential Digital Skills (EDS) - were adopted by Government in 2018 as a framework for defining the main digital skills competencies needed by the individual across five key areas.  From  

“The essential digital skills framework defines the digital skills adults need to safely benefit from, participate in and contribute to the digital world. The frameworks sets out 5 categories of essential digital skills for life and work: 

  • communicating 
  • handling information and content 
  • transacting 
  • problem solving 
  • being safe and legal online 


The EDS Framework  also includes reference to Foundation Skills, which are a pre-requisite to EDS for Life or for Work.  

In practice, Foundation Skills are often rolled into/ covered within EDS by trainers and Digital Champions working with learners.  


Digital Unite (DU)

A provider of products and services for organisations to promote, support and sustain digital inclusion through Digital Champion models.  

DU has a range of Digital Champion e-learning + online project management Networks (DCNs) which provide resources and tools for organisations to build and sustain their own Digital Champion networks. In this way they can own and cascade digital inclusion knowledge, context, motivation, confidence … and digital skills. 

Our generalist DCN is used by clients such as housing associations, local authorities, charities large and small, national and local, Unions, libraries – amongst others - to recruit, train, support and manage their own Digital Champion networks. 

Our Digital Health Champions Network is used by NHSx and seven regional Health Trusts to build Digital Health Champions in the same way. 

Aspire is our Digital Champion Network for organisations and staff/ volunteers and carers supporting people with learning disabilities, and those with learning disabilities themselves to support peers, to build digital and vocational skills. 

Our Digital Inclusion Employee Volunteering product, Inspire, is for any business which wants to raise DI awareness and encourage light touch, time limited and scalable DI volunteering (including socially distanced) across their organisations. 


Social inclusion

'The process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights.’ (United Nations). 

Digital inclusion is now a necessary component of social inclusion (Digital Unite).