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Why Intersectionality in the Workplace Matters to Your Hiring Process

When recruiters set out to increase diversity in their organizations, they usually think about attracting talent from specific groups—from women to people of color to veterans to those living with a disability. What may be overlooked, however, is intersectionality in the workplace and the impact it can have on people’s experiences. 

Intersectionality is the idea that people with multiple underrepresented identities have a unique experience that needs to be considered. For example, organizations may be looking to attract women or black people during their diversity recruitment efforts, but it’s important to also think about the unique stories of black women when they do because white women and black men will inherently have experiences that are different from black women. In the interest of creating an environment where employees can bring their whole selves to work, it’s important for D&I practitioners to take an intersectional approach when recruiting, as well as for organizations to address the needs of workers from an intersectionality perspective. Continue reading to find out how to incorporate intersectionality into the hiring process.

What Are Intersectionality Issues That Reflect in the Workplace? 

In order to truly address diversity in the workplace, it’s important to understand the impact that intersectionality in the workplace has on employees. The following are some examples of the effects of intersectionality on employee experience. 

The Women of Color Wage Gap

While the wage gap for women has been well-documented, there is often a piece of this discussion missing—how the wage gap impacts women of color. White women on average make 81 cents on every dollar that white men earn, but women of color earn significantly less than both groups. In fact, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native earn 75 cents on the dollar.

Hiring Disparities for Black Individuals with disabilities

People of color already face hiring hurdles compared to their white counterparts, and when they are living with disabilities, those challenges are exacerbated. According to data from the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, 73.7% of African-Americans in the United States without disabilities are employed, while only 28.6% of African-Americans living with disabilities are employed. 

LGBTQI+ Communities and Workplace Harassment

Members of LGBTQI+ communities are already marginalized in many cases in the workplace, but intersectionality paints a picture of more egregious abuses taken against them. For example, 54% of LGBTQI+ employees who are also women of color have reported that they have experienced unwanted touching in the workplace compared to 31% of white women in LGBTQI+ communities. Similarly, workers from LGBTQI+ communities living with disabilities face more harassment than their able-bodied peers.

5 Methods to Promote Intersectionality in the Hiring Process

Understanding intersectionality in the workplace can go a long way toward helping you meet your diversity recruitment goals. The following are some strategies you can adopt in order to integrate an intersectional approach into your hiring process.

1.  Leverage Data 

Any successful diversity recruitment plan is bolstered by the use of data that tracks your progress. Although it’s important to look at the figures of what groups of people are responding to job ads, getting through the initial interview process, being shortlisted, and then hired, to take an intersectional view of your progress, you need to use data to understand where candidates overlap and how far those in multiple demographics are making it through the hiring funnel.

2. Get Input From Current Employees

In order to find out the needs of people who have multiple underrepresented identities, you can get input from the people who currently work at your organization. If you want to know what black women, transgender people with disabilities, or lesbian veterans have to say about their experiences in the workplace and what they need to feel supported, ask them directly. Giving them a voice not only helps with hiring new employees, but also aids in making the workplace more inclusive for current workers.

3. Provide Training

Just as hiring managers may need diversity training to ensure that they’re being as fair as possible with their hiring decisions, they should also be trained on the impact of intersectionality in the workplace and how employees with multiple identities face unique challenges. The more information recruiters have, the more effective they will be at helping their organizations meet D&I goals. Also, providing training for all employees on intersectionality can help improve inclusion at an organization so everyone feels welcomed after they’re hired.

4. Look at Members of Hiring Panels

The more intersectional input added to hiring conversations, the better. In order to promote intersectional perspectives during the hiring process, it's important to have different voices with a seat at the table. Including people with underserved identities in hiring panels is crucial because not only can they advocate on behalf of candidates, they can also be a source of education for everyone in the group.

5. Explore Pay Inequities

With talent being more vocal about fair pay, as well as more empowered to explore options, it's important to address pay inequities across the spectrum to attract the best workers. Since intersectionality in the workplace is associated with pay disparities, you must look at the data in your organization to find out how your compensation may actually create a pay gap for those with multiple identities. If there are disparities, they need to be corrected to ensure that there is equity in compensation for everyone.

Diversity recruiting is a great step toward making your workplace better, especially considering that more diverse workplaces enjoy several benefits like higher retention rates, revenues, and innovation than companies that are less diverse. In order to ensure that your organization is truly diverse, it's also important to look at hiring from an intersectionality perspective and address any gaps where multiple identities aren't being represented.

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