Today we’re talking about intersectionality.
What is intersectionality?
To start, the term was first coined in 1989 by law professor and social theorist, Kimberly Crenshaw, and I’ll like the paper below.
In short, intersectionality is a framework, or way to acknowledge and reflect on how an individual or group’s various dimensions of our social identities, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class, influence our experiences of discrimination and privilege.
For example, I as a cisgendered Black woman will likely experience discrimination that is different from that of a transgender Black woman due to the intersection of race and gender identity.
Intersectionality is important because it helps us understand that people's experiences are not one-dimensional, and that different forms of oppression can intersect and compound each other. This is particularly relevant in the workplace, where people from different backgrounds and identities are coming together to work towards a common goal.
An intersectional approach in the workplace means that we are choosing to recognize and value the diverse identities, experiences, and perspectives that team members bring to the table. This can help companies create more inclusive and welcoming environments for everyone, which in turn can lead to better business outcomes.
For example, an intersectional approach to recruiting and hiring can help organizations attract a more diverse pipeline of candidates, which can improve the company’s ability to understand and serve a more diverse customer or client base.
Additionally, an intersectional approach to leadership and decision-making can help ensure that all voices are heard, or being included, and that policies and practices are equitable, meaning they are taking into account the unique needs and experiences of different groups.
At the same time, it's important to recognize that intersectionality is not just a buzzword or a checklist item. It's a complex and ongoing process of learning, reflecting, and taking aaction - which means that it requires ongoing attention and effort.
So, how can we start incorporating an intersectional approach into the workplace?
I want to give you some practical tips:
Educate yourself and others about intersectionality and thy it matters
Listen to and value the experiences and perspectives of people from diverse backgrounds and identities.
Review your company's policies and practices to ensure that they are inclusive and equitable for everyone
Actively recruit and retain employees from diverse backgrounds and identities — often people neglect the equity and inclusion, which directly impacts retention
Encourage open and honest communication among your teams, and creating a psychologically safe environment where people feel comfortable sharing their experiences and concerns (and if relevant, if you have an office space, a physically safe environment as well
So, intersectionality is a powerful tool for creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces. By recognizing and valuing the complex intertwining of different social identities, we can create spaces where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported.
If you aren’t already incorporating an intersectional approach into your workplaces, hopefully the tips that I shared today will encourage you to take action. And if you area already exploring intersectionality, drop a comment below and and tips, wins, challenges that you’ve dealt with.
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Resources for today's discussion: