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What is Intersectionality? 

Intersectionality is a framework that seeks to understand how different aspects of identity, such as race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability, intersect and overlap to create unique experiences of marginalization and privilege.  

It acknowledges that a person's experiences are not solely determined by one aspect of their identity, but rather by the interplay of various factors.   

For example, a Black woman may face distinct forms of discrimination and oppression that cannot be understood simply by looking at her race or gender alone. 

Intersectionality has become a buzzword in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) space. Coined by Black feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality refers to the ways in which different forms of oppression and marginalization intersect and interact with one another.  

It is a framework that recognizes the complex and interconnected nature of social identities and experiences. 


The Importance of Intersectionality 

Intersectionality plays an important role in modern workplaces. Here are just some of the many ways it helps. 


Intersectionality acknowledges the complexity of identity 

One of the fundamental tenets of intersectionality is understanding that a person's identity can't be reduced to a single descriptor.  

Someone might be a woman, a person of color, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and/or an immigrant. All of these identities intersect and affect each other. Recognizing this complexity allows us to better understand how various systems of oppression play out in people's lives. 


Intersectionality exposes the limitations of "diversity" efforts 

Imagine a recruitment campaign that focuses on hiring more women in an organization. That's great, right? But what if we don't consider the fact that some women face more barriers than others because of their race, sexual orientation, or immigration status?  

That's where the concept of intersectionality comes in. By acknowledging that different people face different challenges based on their intersecting identities, we can create more nuanced and effective DEI strategies. 


Intersectionality promotes inclusivity and empathy 

When we take an intersectional approach to DEI, we're able to see beyond surface-level differences and recognize the diverse experiences that our colleagues or community members may have.  

This, in turn, promotes empathy and understanding among people who may not have shared experiences. An intersectional lens can lead to more authentic relationships and workplace cultures that are truly inclusive. 


Intersectionality challenges power structures 

For many people, the concept of intersectionality is empowering because it acknowledges the unique challenges they face and offers tools to navigate those challenges.  

At the same time, intersectionality is threatening to systems of power and privilege. In acknowledging the interconnectedness of different forms of oppression, we're forced to confront the ways in which dominant groups maintain power and privilege. This can be uncomfortable, but it's crucial for creating real change. 


Intersectionality is an ongoing process 

Finally, it's important to note that intersectionality is not a one-time checkbox that can be ticked off. Rather, it's an ongoing process of learning and growth.  

DEI work is constantly evolving, and intersectionality is a critical component of that evolution. It requires ongoing education, self-reflection, and a commitment to learning from marginalized voices. 


How to Incorporate an Intersectional Approach in DEI Efforts 

There are several steps that organizations can take to incorporate an intersectional approach into their D&I efforts. One key step is to ensure that all perspectives are represented in the conversation.  

This means actively seeking out individuals who represent a variety of identities and experiences to provide input and feedback. It is also important to prioritize intersectionality in the development of DEI policies and initiatives. 

For example, a company might prioritize diversity in hiring, but also provide targeted support for individuals who face unique barriers to entry, such as those with disabilities or who come from low-income backgrounds. 


Use inclusio to Improve on Your D&I Efforts 

One of the best platforms that companies can use to improve their D&I initiatives is to use inclusio. It is an AI-powered platform that provides critical insights into the effectiveness of existing D&I measures, and allows companies to engage employees, providing them with a safe and independent platform where they can contribute too.