Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is not just beneficial; it’s essential. The concept of intersectionality, introduced over three decades ago by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, has become crucial in understanding and implementing effective DEI strategies.
Intersectionality is a lens through which we can view how various aspects of a person’s identity - gender, race, age, class, and more - intersect to affect their experiences, particularly in the workplace. This concept helps us understand that discrimination and privilege are not just single-layer issues but are compounded when multiple aspects of identity overlap.
Why it matters in the workplace
Applying an intersectional approach in the workplace is vital for fostering a truly inclusive environment. It helps address pay disparities and opportunity gaps, ensuring that all employees, regardless of their unique identities, are treated fairly and given equal opportunities.
Instead of relying solely on single-axis frameworks, which focus on one dimension of discrimination at a time (e.g. gender or ethnicity or disability), an intersectional approach caters to the multidimensionality of people’s experiences and identities.
For instance, Muslim women wearing the hijab, women with disabilities, LGBTQI+ refugees can experience discrimination in qualitatively different ways as their male, white and non-disabled counterparts. Such variations in the ways in which discrimination manifests for different people based on the combination of various identities is not only (mostly) not captured by the available statistical data, but also rarely addressed by anti-discrimination legislation in EU member states.
The relevance of intersectionality becomes starkly evident when we examine pay and opportunity gaps. Statistics reveal that 45+ women in the face wider opportunity gap compared to male counterparts. This "double gap" phenomenon is also evident among other women of migrant background or with a disability status.
These disparities are not just numbers; they represent systemic inequities that intersectionality helps to spotlight and address. By acknowledging these unique challenges, organisations can develop more targeted, effective strategies to close these gaps.
Intersectionality in action
Forward-thinking companies are now incorporating intersectional analyses into their workplace equity evaluations, going beyond basic categorical analyses. By focusing on the intersections of age and gender for example, businesses can develop a more comprehensive understanding of workplace dynamics and create targeted strategies to address systemic inequities.
The impact of intersectionality is also seen in hiring and career advancement. Non-white women often face larger gaps in representation in leadership and managerial roles relative to their presence in the labour force. Additionally, the nuances of intersectionality come to light in the experiences of ethnically diverse LGBTQ+, who face more pronounced workplace discrimination.
The role of allyship
Closely related to intersectionality, it involves supporting minority groups to foster equitable and inclusive opportunities. It’s about understanding the unique experiences of marginalised groups and taking concrete actions to support them.
Fair Barcelona and intersectionality
We recognize the importance of intersectionality in creating workplaces that reflect the diverse world we live in. By applying this framework, we aim to foster an environment where every individual, irrespective of their background, feels valued and empowered.
Join us in embracing intersectionality and creating a future where workplace inclusion is not just a goal but a tangible reality. Together, let’s build organisations where diversity is celebrated, equity is the norm, and inclusion is a lived experience for all.
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