Intersectionality is the idea that different forms of oppression and disadvantage intersect and overlap, creating unique experiences of discrimination and marginalization. In recent years, the concept has gained traction as a way to better understand and address different forms of discrimination. In the workplace, the idea of intersectionality rises to the surface as people from diverse backgrounds and identities come together to work toward shared goals. As HR professionals, let’s explore what intersectionality is, why it's important in the workplace, and how we can promote it to create a more inclusive and supportive environment.
Why is Intersectionality Important in the Workplace?
Intersectionality helps us to recognize that people from different backgrounds and identities may face unique challenges and barriers that require specific support and accommodations. For example, a Black woman may face discrimination different from that experienced by a White woman or even a Black man and may require targeted strategies to overcome those obstacles.
Second, intersectionality helps us better understand and appreciate the diversity of perspectives and experiences people bring to the workplace. Recognizing and valuing those differences creates a more inclusive and supportive environment that benefits everyone. Promoting intersectionality in the workplace helps foster a culture of respect and empathy where all employees feel valued and included.
In short, intersectionality represents the factors and categories that marginalize each individual and the acknowledgment that everyone experiences a varying level of discrimination and oppression.
How Can HR Teams Promote Intersectionality?
As the stewards of workplace culture and employee well-being, HR teams have an essential role to play in promoting intersectionality in the workplace:
Provide Diversity and Inclusion Training: One of the best ways to promote intersectionality is to provide employees with training on diversity and inclusion. This can help employees to recognize their own biases and assumptions, as well as to better understand and appreciate the experiences of their colleagues.
Implement Inclusive Policies and Practices: For example, policies that support flexible work arrangements or that provide accommodations for disabilities can help to create a more supportive and equitable workplace.
Foster Employee Resource Groups: Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a great way to unite employees with shared identities and experiences. HR teams can support the formation and operation of ERGs to provide a space for employees to connect, share their experiences, and advocate for change.
Encourage Intersectional Hiring Practices: HR teams can promote intersectionality by encouraging intersectional hiring practices. This includes actively seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds or incorporating diversity and inclusion criteria into job descriptions and hiring processes.
The benefits of like-minded employees are apparent. Yet, for an organization to reach its full potential, it is essential to have employees from different walks of life, thus incorporating different perspectives into the conversation. As a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and a veteran-owned small business, RJ Reliance is proud to be a diverse supplier and incorporate operational diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Even though your organization already maintains auditable data to begin a DEI assessment, it is critical to move beyond this basic data by incorporating initiatives, engaging leaders from across your organization, and looking externally to other organizations that have already embraced DEI. While this blog offers a basic overview of intersectionality, RJ Reliance recognizes that intersectionality is a topic of great depth and importance. Reach out today to discuss how our experts can help support this and other initiatives within your organization!