Last May, amid the tumult and despair of a global pandemic, George Floyd’s murder served…
As we celebrate Pride Month in June, it’s a critical time to acknowledge and honor the intersectionality of diverse identities in the workplace. Intersectionality is a term coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how the dynamics of racism, sexism, heteropatriarchy and “various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other.”
In antiracism work, applying an intersectional lens highlights the need to focus on the impacts of race and ethnicity in the lived working experiences of our colleagues. For example, when implementing leave policies for working parents and caregivers, has your company considered the impacts of proposed policies on parents with diverse identities? In this scenario, diverse groups you may consider include parents or caregivers of foster and adopted children; those who are LGBTQ+; foreign-born employees; those who live in multi-generational households; among others.
An antiracist, intersectional lens allows us to view the experiences and needs of Black, Latinx, indigenous, Asian Pacific Islanders, and other racial and ethnic communities from a multi-dimensional lens that may include ability, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and other salient identities.
On a related note, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts with Forbes about what companies should consider in the aftermath of the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of police. One year after Floyd’s death and the racial reckoning that ensued, companies are continuing to make strides in their diversity journey. In advancing workplace strategies toward retaining top diverse talent, I’d like to expand upon the point I made in the Forbes article about centering employee voice.
- Develop an intersectional lens in your employee retention strategy. Focusing on closing the gaps in racial and ethnic representation is essential. However, you might want to deepen the practice by applying an intersectional approach. How well is your organization faring in retaining Black and Latinx women? How are pay equity policies serving the needs of women of color, LGBTQ+ employees of color, or employees of color with disabilities? In addition to honoring LGBTQ+ identities during Pride month, is there sentiment among your staff of color and allies about creating space to celebrate Juneteenth?
- Listen to and act upon employee sentiments about DEI in the workplace. Communication within the workplace occurs at formal and informal venues. Ideally, there are people and processes empowered to gather employee sentiment, how people within the organization truly feel and think about the diversity, equity and inclusion climate. Your employees are a treasure trove of first-hand knowledge about how the organization is doing in advancing equitable and inclusive practices.
- Unapologetically communicate the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in a frequent and consistent manner. It’s important for employees to know about how top leaders have internalized and applied the value of DEI for the company’s operations. DEI should be embedded in internal and external communication pieces. For naysayers who cite “diversity fatigue,” please remind them that a key part of DEI work is uplifting the voices and experiences of people from marginalized identities. Being an antiracist organization isn’t about guaranteeing the comfort of people in the dominant culture. There’s no louder statement of privilege than to express being tired of hearing and learning about diversity.
The WTIA DEI Office is invested in your organization’s advancement of DEI initiatives and programs. Contact DEI@washingtontechnology.org for more information about how we can support your organization’s journey toward developing a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Learn more about how technology and allied organizations are promoting diversity through the Anti-Racism in Tech Pact.