Intersectionality: Ask Catalyst ExpressMay 23, 2023
Intersectionality is a framework for understanding how social identities—such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and gender identity—overlap with one another and with systems of power that oppress and advantage people in the workplace and broader community. By coining the term “intersectionality” in 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw named and brought visibility to the long-standing interlocking inequities that many women of color, in particular, had been fighting for centuries.
People’s interlocking identities illustrate the diversity that exists within any broad social group (e.g., women, immigrants, trans people, etc.), and where there are similarities and differences in experiences within these groups due to layers of oppression and privilege. For example, when compared to straight, cisgender White men:
- White women have different experiences and privileges due to sexism;
- Black men experience discrimination due to racism;
- Black women will be impacted by both racism and sexism;
- A gay paraplegic faces biases based on sexual orientation and perceived ability.
Intersectionality makes plain that advancing women—or any broad group—at work means addressing the other social inequities that they face based on their multiple social identities. Considering individuals from an intersectional perspective is a critical component in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces across the globe.
Catalyst Resources on Intersectionality
- Intersectionality: When Identities Converge
This report highlights how our various identities impact our daily lives, which affects how we perceive the world and how the world perceives us. The piece concludes with ways senior leaders can adopt an intersectional framework in the workplace.
- Exposé of Women’s Workplace Experiences Challenges Antiracist Leaders to Step Up
Catalyst research found that half of women from marginalized racial and ethnic groups have experienced racism in the workplace with these experiences often going unaddressed. Senior leaders who demonstrate allyship and curiosity can combat racism, in part by decreasing the climate of silence in their organization and increasing its diversity climate.
- Emotional Tax and Work Teams: A View from 5 Countries
Catalyst research found that over half of employees from marginalized racial and ethnic groups are on guard against bias and discrimination on their teams. A team climate for psychological safety can mitigate employees being on guard.
- Empowering Workplaces Combat Emotional Tax for People of Colour in Canada (see also: French translation)
Catalyst research uncovered that Black, East Asian, and South Asian professionals who are highly on guard have a dangerously high intent to quit, ranging from 50% to 69%. Canadian employers can start to counter this number by creating empowering work environments for their employees.
- Emotional Tax: How Black Women and Men Pay More at Work and How Leaders Can Take Action
This report shows that emotional tax can deplete Black employees’ sense of well-being by making them feel that they must be “on guard.” Emotional tax also results in disrupted sleep patterns, reduced sense of “psychological safety,” and diminished ability to contribute at work.
- Barclays – How Barclays is Creating an Inclusive Workplace Supporter Only
Barclays, a global financial services firm headquartered in London, has a long history of supporting diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. Through its Dynamic Working Campaign, Barclays is attempting to ingrain a flexible mindset throughout the firm and champion flexibility as the way work gets done. This Practice also highlights the firm’s innovative This is Me campaign designed to eliminate the stigma around mental health and disabilities.
- Chevron Australia – PRIDE: LGBT Inclusion, Intersectionality, and Collaborative Partnerships Supporter Only
PRIDE, Chevron’s LGBT employee network, was developed as a grassroots employee effort. The group has evolved over its more than 20-year history to collaborate with other internal and external partners to build cross-cultural awareness among employees and to support Chevron’s efforts to attract and retain the best talent. Like all employee networks at Chevron, PRIDE is connected to the Office of Global Diversity, and is closely aligned with Chevron’s values of “people, partnership and performance.”
- PepsiCo, Inc. – Women of Color Multicultural Alliance Supporter Only
PepsiCo is firmly committed to leveraging the diversity of perspectives that its talented associates bring to the company and to fostering a work environment that includes and encourages differing views of the world. A key initiative in that effort is PepsiCo’s Women of Color Multicultural Alliance, which serves as a strategic support and resource group focused on attracting, retaining, and developing women of color in the middle and senior management ranks at PepsiCo. The Alliance has four priorities: enlisting support and awareness; building a sense of community; educating and developing; and increasing representation and improving retention. Major activities over the years have included Power Pairs®, a program that builds authentic relationships and advancement opportunities for women of color through facilitated dialogues with immediate and skip-level managers; a national leadership development conference; and regional networking events.
- Intersectionality: Cultivating Workplaces That Work for All Women Supporter Only
- Canada’s Women’s History Month: Celebrating Intersectionality Supporter Only
- Intersectionality of Gender, Race, and Ethnicity at Work Supporter Only
- Intersecting Identities and the Impact of Emotional Tax Supporter Only
- Forging the Path to True Workplace Inclusion for LGBTQ+ Employees Supporter Only
- Why Intersectionality Matters
- 14 Racial Equity Terms You Should Know
- Five Tips for Future-Proofing Your Workplace
- “Open the Kimono”: 11 Assumptions Behind a Misogynist and Racist Business Phrase
- Beware Performative Allyship: 3 Signs to Look For
- Men of Color at Work: If These Stories Surprise You, You Haven’t Been Listening
- Intersectionality – A Definition, History, and Guide Sister Outrider
- For LGBTQ People of Color, Discrimination Compounds National Public Radio
- Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Intersectionality at Work: South Asian Muslim Women’s Experiences of Employment and Leadership in the United Kingdom Memoona Tariq & Jawad Syed
- What’s Intersectionality? Let These Scholars Explain the Theory and Its History Time
- Intersectional Feminism: What It Means and Why It Matters Right Now UN Women
- The Effect of Intersectionality in the Workplace New York Times
- Intersectionality 101 Learning for Justice
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