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July 2019
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: Intersectionality

Inclusive workplaces understand the importance of intersectionality and how employees' multiple identities define their experiences in and outside of work. Bentley University's Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business (CWB) describes intersectionality as a combination of factors that include racial and ethnic identity, age, sexual orientation, ability and disability, class status, religion, veteran status, and cognitive diversity. Specifically, it refers to groups that are "double outsiders" such as women of color.

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Trish Foster, CWB senior director, says, "By taking a broader approach to how we view others, we're less likely to stereotype people or consider them as token representatives of a particular group. And we're more likely to view co-workers as equal partners who deserve our respect."

The CWB recommends that HR and talent development professionals seeking to address intersectionality in their diversity and inclusion programs start by getting CEOs and senior executives—particularly if they are white men—to acknowledge the unconscious bias and privilege that can make talent at the intersections invisible to them. You can also take a leadership role by building an inclusive culture, being an active ally to underrepresented groups, and holding everyone in the organization accountable.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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