Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords in many workplaces and organizations, but it’s essential to understand that diversity encompasses more than race and gender. Intersectionality is a critical aspect of diversity and inclusion efforts that recognizes people’s identities’ complex and interconnected nature.
What is Intersectionality?
Intersectionality is a concept developed by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It refers to the interconnected nature of social categories, such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation, and how they intersect to create unique experiences of privilege and oppression.
For example, a black woman may face discrimination based on her gender, race, and class, while a white woman may experience discrimination based on her gender alone. Similarly, a gay man may face discrimination based on his sexual orientation and gender expression, while a straight man may not face the same level of discrimination.
Why is Intersectionality Important?
Intersectionality is essential because it acknowledges that people’s experiences of discrimination and privilege are not solely based on one aspect of their identity. It recognizes that different social categories intersect to create unique experiences of oppression and privilege.
For example, a company that focuses solely on gender diversity may not be fully inclusive if it does not consider other aspects of diversity, such as race, age, and sexual orientation. This can lead to a lack of representation and exclusion of individuals who may be marginalized based on their intersecting identities.
Incorporating Intersectionality in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
To incorporate intersectionality in diversity and inclusion efforts, organizations must first recognize the importance of acknowledging and valuing the diversity of all employees. This means going beyond surface-level diversity metrics, such as race and gender, and considering other aspects of diversity, such as age, disability, religion, and sexual orientation.
Organizations should also ensure that their policies and practices include all employees, regardless of their intersecting identities. For example, an organization may have a policy that accommodates employees with disabilities, but it may not be inclusive of employees who are disabled and LGBTQ+.
Another way to incorporate intersectionality in diversity and inclusion efforts is to provide training and education to employees. This can include workshops and seminars that cover topics such as unconscious bias, privilege, and intersectionality. It can also include training on inclusive language and behaviors that support an inclusive workplace culture.
Finally, organizations must hold themselves accountable for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace culture. This means regularly reviewing and assessing diversity and inclusion efforts, collecting employee feedback, and making necessary adjustments. It also means transparency about diversity and inclusion goals and progress to ensure all employees feel valued and included.
Intersectionality is essential to diversity and inclusion efforts because it recognizes the interconnected nature of social categories and how they intersect to create unique experiences of privilege and oppression. By incorporating intersectionality in diversity and inclusion efforts, organizations can create a more inclusive workplace culture that values the diversity of all employees. This includes recognizing the importance of diverse identities beyond race and gender, ensuring that policies and practices are inclusive of all employees, providing training and education, and holding themselves accountable for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace culture. By embracing intersectionality, organizations can create a more equitable and inclusive workplace for all employees.