Diagram of intersectionality showing Ethnicity, Gender, Age, Sexuality, (Dis)Ability, Culture, Class, Religion

Intersectionality and its Impacts

The many different identities people bring to a workplace is something to be celebrated and acknowledged.

However, it is important to recognize in all identity-diverse groups, there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to understanding or categorizing employees. 


Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, explains how many types of social justice issues and barriers can impact individuals simultaneously.

Intersectionality extends to all protected characteristics, including:

  • gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • ethnicity
  • culture
  • age
  • religion
  • disability
  • and economic class, among others!

The various intersecting identities a person has may magnify their experiences of marginalization and discrimination. Looking at the bigger picture of your employee’s identity will help you recognize to what extent they may be dealing with the issues they face.

The concept of intersectionality was originally developed to “bring to light dynamics within discrimination law that weren’t being appreciated by the courts”.

Crenshaw explains further:

“In particular, courts seem to think that race discrimination was what happened to all Black people across gender and sex discrimination was what happened to all women, and if that is your framework, of course, what happens to Black women and other women of color is going to be difficult to see.”

Although the term intersectionality was first established decades ago, many of us are just now beginning to appreciate how intersectionality operates. This framework will continue to play a key role in broadening our understanding of what diverse workplace cultures really entail.


Want to keep learning? Listen to the first episode of Just One Q with Dr. Melissa Horne, a Learning Snippets podcast and sign up for our weekly Sunday Snippets newsletter to stay up-to-date on best practices for diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace.

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