What is Intersectionality and Why Does it Matter?

We exist through intersections, but our conversations about diversity regularly push us to pick one identity for ourselves at the expense of others.” ― Rohit Bhargava, Beyond Diversity

Let’s talk about “Intersectionality.” But before we do, it’s important to explain what it is and why it is so important when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion. the Oxford Dictionary defines intersectionality as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”

For most of us, it’s not easy to pick one aspect of our identity to focus on—especially in the workplace. Our life experiences define who we are to a certain extent—as do things like our gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, to name but a few. We’re all complex individuals with often complex rather than one-dimensional identities. And as stated by Bhagariv, it’s frustrating to have to pick one aspect of our identities to speak to the realities we face in the workplace and society at large. 

The Origins

The concept isn’t new, although it’s become a buzzword in the past few years as a result of an evolving awareness of workplace and social disparities that remain too obvious to ignore. Originally conceived in the late 1980s by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, it initially focused on how Black women in the U.S. and the intersection between race and gender as they related to discrimination claims. For example, racial discrimination claims by Black women failed if Black men were not a party to the case, and gender claims failed because White women or women of other races or ethnicities might be employed by the same company. It seemed near impossible for people to imagine that Black women might experience sexual harassment and discrimination differently than their other female peers. 

Since then, the term has been broadened considerably to apply to other types of “intersections,” like sexual orientation or disability status. A person may come from a traditionally marginalized group and face challenges based on far more factors than race or gender. Identities overlap, and while some may not face discrimination in the workplace based on gender or race, they may experience discrimination or bias based on some other factor—like sexual orientation or disability status. 

Why it Matters in DEI

As companies and organizations confront historic and current workplace disparities, ranging from pay gaps to hiring and promotions, it’s important that they consider more aspects of our identities than race or gender. 

For example, according to data compiled by the World Economic Forum, in 2020 white women in the U.S. were earning an average of 81 cents on the dollar compared to white men; in comparison black and Hispanic women lagged behind, earning an average of 75 cents on the dollar. The impact is clear when we consider how long it would take for women to achieve parity with men. If the gap isn’t addressed socially and in the workplace, white women would achieve parity with men much sooner than all women—even when similarly qualified. Projections by the World Economic Forum indicate White women would achieve parity by 2059; while black and Hispanic women wouldn’t realize parity until 2130 and 2224, respectively.  That shouldn’t be a concern just for minority women, but for all women and men as well. 

It’s true that minority men in the U.S. also experience this type of disparity. In 2019, Payscale conducted a study on earning disparities between similarly qualified men of color in the relation to what their White male peers earned. The study relied on a sample of almost 2 million employees over a two-year period and found that Black and Hispanic men earned 89 cents and 91 cents on the dollar, respectively. However, the same study also found that Asian men in the U.S. earn 15 cents ($1.15) more than their white similarly qualified peers. 

The Role of Employers

There’s been a lot of talk about “equity” in recent years, especially among DEI teams and professionals. The question remains, are leaders really listening and taking action fast enough, especially for minorities and other marginalized groups. 

Truth be told, there are no easy fixes. We’ve been aware of these disparities for decades but companies—large and small—have been slow to respond. Now that we have lots of credible data to confirm discriminatory practices, whether conscious or unconscious, leaders have to consider the overlapping identities and life experiences of employees when hiring, promoting, or providing access to training and development programs. It’s important to analyze the proprietary data they have on hand to ensure that there is equity at all levels of the company. It’s no small task and takes real visionary leadership. Those that do, stand to benefit greatly in a number of ways—including improved recruitment, lower turnover, more employee engagement and higher employee morale.

199 replies
  1. Genevieve
    Genevieve says:

    I go to see each day a few blogs and іnformatі᧐n sites to read articles or revieᴡs,
    but this blog prеsents գuality baseԁ writing.

    Reply
  2. Florence
    Florence says:

    I reɑd this piece of writіng fully regarding the resemblance of һottest
    and earlіer technologies, it’s remarkable article.

    Reply
  3. Fausto
    Fausto says:

    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and
    I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot.
    I was seeking this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

    Reply
  4. gralion torile
    gralion torile says:

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

    Reply
  5. tcsindustryc
    tcsindustryc says:

    unifiram (developmental code name dm-235) is an experimental drug which has antiamnesic effects in animal studies and with significantly higher potency than piracetam. sunifiram is a molecular simplification of unifiram (dm-232). another analogue is sapunifiram (mn-19). as of 2016, sunifiram had not been subjected to toxicology testing, nor to any human clinical trials, and is not approved for use anywhere in the world.

    Reply
  6. Dulcie
    Dulcie says:

    It’s in fact very diffіcult in this active life to listen news on TV, therefore
    I just use the ᴡeb for that purpose, and obtain the latest information.

    Reply
  7. Norris
    Norris says:

    Thanks fοr another informative site. Where else may I get that type ⲟf
    info written in such an iԁeal means? I’ve a proϳect that
    Ӏ’m just now running ᧐n, and I have been at the glance
    out for such information.

    Reply
  8. Darla
    Darla says:

    Whаt і dοn’t realize is in fact how you’re no longer actually much more
    well-favored than you might Ьe right now. You are very intelligent.
    You гealize thus considerably when it comes to this
    subject, made me personally consіder it frоm a lot of variouѕ
    angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated unless it’s one thing to do with
    Woman gaga! Your individuаl stuffs nice. Aⅼl the time
    maintain it up!

    Reply
  9. antika alanlar
    antika alanlar says:

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

    Reply
  10. antika eşya alım satım
    antika eşya alım satım says:

    I’ve learned newer and more effective things by your weblog. One other thing I would really like to say is newer laptop or computer operating systems are inclined to allow far more memory for use, but they in addition demand more ram simply to run. If someone’s computer can’t handle more memory as well as newest software requires that ram increase, it may be the time to shop for a new Computer system. Thanks

    Reply
  11. online news
    online news says:

    In this awesome scheme of things you’ll receive a B- just for effort and hard work. Where you actually misplaced me ended up being in the facts. You know, people say, details make or break the argument.. And that couldn’t be more true at this point. Having said that, allow me reveal to you just what exactly did work. The text is pretty persuasive and this is probably why I am taking the effort in order to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Second, while I can notice a jumps in reasoning you make, I am not confident of just how you seem to connect the details which inturn make the actual final result. For right now I will, no doubt yield to your position however trust in the future you actually connect the dots much better.

    Reply
  12. Felipa
    Felipa says:

    We’re a group of volᥙnteers and opening a new scheme in our ϲommunity.
    Your site provided us with helⲣful informatіon to work оn.
    You’ve performed a formidable process and our ѡhole neighborhood will likely be ցrateful to yoᥙ.

    Reply
  13. Guy
    Guy says:

    You can definiteⅼy see your skills in the article you write.
    The arеna hopes for even more passionate wгiters such as you who aren’t afraіd to mention how tһey believe.
    At all times go after your heart.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.