Talking About Intersectionality? Avoid These Common Diversity Mistakes

Today, I want to talk Intersectionality. In my experience, Intersectionality is a potential mine field, because it’s one of those terms that is thrown around casually by people in the field of Diversity & Inclusion but is rarely explained or discussed thoroughly.

The only people I consistently hear discuss Intersectionality in a meaningful way are academics but as you can imagine they go so deep into the subject that it is easy to alienate anyone who just wants to grasp what it means!

In this show I want to provide a happy medium, understanding the importance of Intersectionality and what this means for individuals is crucial for anyone working towards a more inclusive workplace. It also provides incredible opportunities for employee resource groups.

In todays show I discuss several things including

  • Where the term Intersectionality comes from and why it’s history should never be forgotten
  • Why an intersectional approach may be difficult for employee resource groups
  • The dangers of ignoring Intersectionality and much much more

Here’s some of what I share in the show:

The Historic Context of Intersectionality

I draw upon the historical context of Intersectionality to introduce the topic:

“The point being made in the paper is that when African American women or any other women of colour experience either compound or overlapping forms of discrimination, the law was not there to come to their defence”

Intersectionality concerns everyone

I explain how Intersectionality is a phenomenon that matters to everyone regardless of background:

“I think that Intersectionality addresses the complexity of being an individual by recognising that everyone has multiple forms of identity. This means that both privilege and inequality can exist for an individual in different contexts and at different times. This is useful because an intersectional approach avoids the issues of attributing social experiences to a single identity category”

Employee Resource Groups that ignore Intersectionality can be problematic

I explain why employee resource groups need to consider Intersectionality in order to avoid erasing experiences from the workplace:

“Even though resource groups are intended to promote inclusion, they can under particular circumstances serve to erase narratives from the discourse within an organisation”

 Show notes

Here are some selected links to for the resources and reports I discuss in the episode.

Why Diversity Matters: A Review of the “McKinsey Report”

Antoinette Boateng: Why Authenticity Matters for Diversity & Inclusion

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw

Kimberlé Crenshaw TED Talk

Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics

Click here to tell me the 3 things you want me to cover on this podcast

Make sure you subscribe, I will see you in the next episode

The Elements of Inclusion #4

Leaders must collaborate innovatively to leverage cultural expertise and drive business performance.

  • Why inclusive outcomes are driven by innovation
  • How developing a business case for diversity and inclusion specific to your organisation is a competitive advantage
  • Why novelty is at the heart of your inclusion journey

The Elements of Inclusion #3

Leaders must establish systems to ensure that everyone shares the same advantages and benefits. These processes will create incentives for inclusive behaviours.

  • How to augment your team with the tools and insights they need to prevent structural disadvantage
  • Why reinforcing generative norms ensures everyone belongs in the organisation
  • How inclusive representations can be embedded to promote an inclusive culture

The Elements of Inclusion #2

Leaders must redefine career development relationships to support inclusive performance.
  • Why traditional mentor relationships must be revised for an inclusive workplace
  • How leaders must embrace networks of developmental relationships for individual growth
  • Why established workplace norms must evolve for inclusion in the modern workplace

The Elements of Inclusion #1

Leaders must properly socialise people and socialise inclusive ideas by providing an environment for the cultural learning needed for an active role in an inclusive organisation

  • How your socialisation processes must evolve to encourage the sustainable cultivation of inclusive competencies
  • Why Leaders must consistently negotiate the line between organisational commitment and personal authenticity to promote performance
  • How developing intersectional self awareness can help leaders to leverage individual employee experiences