Intersectionality and the real problem of diversity in silos

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Many companies still consider diversity policies solely in terms of dealing with separate categories of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, socio-economic class, religion or disability. However, a better awareness of how these strands overlap — a concept known as intersectionality — can improve an organisation’s understanding of its staff.

FT

I can’t tell you how many times I have expressed this problem with traditional diversity to people. Most thing they are doing a great thing focusing on diversity, and I never want to stop that. However they miss the point of true diversity…

As the FT piece points out (found via Jonathan Ashong Lamptey)

Treating people as individuals is key to improving this perception, she says. Taking an intersectional view means recognising individuals can have multiple identities that overlap, for example an Asian LGBT woman or a white disabled man.

Looking at the law, the example which I would use to demonstrate the importance of intersectionality is Baylis-Flannery v. DeWilde.

In the case of the complainant, who alleged discrimination by her employer on the basis of sex and race, the Tribunal found that the discrimination she experienced was intersectional, and observed:

While the findings of discrimination made in this case are of sufficient gravity that Ms Baylis-Flannery could succeed on either enumerated ground of race or sex, or on both grounds, one set following the other, the law must acknowledge that she is not a woman who happens to be Black, or a Black person who happens to be female, but a Black woman. The danger in adopting a single ground approach to the analysis of this case is that it could be characterized as a sexual harassment matter that involved a Black complainant, thus negating the importance of the racial discrimination that she suffered as a Black woman. In terms of the impact on her psyche, the whole is more than the sum of the parts: the impact of these highly discriminatory acts on her personhood is serious. (2003 HRTO 28, para 145)

But as Jonathan points out lets look beyond legal discrimination, as its easy to see the problem. He uses a good example of himself to show how in certain contexts he has advantages and disadvantages.

…he says: “Being a 6ft 2 man has its advantages in the workplace but being black has disadvantages, at different times and different places.”

This also gets more tricky once you have a number of people who share similar categories. My example I always use is if you have a large number of white women from a middle class background, how does this effect the inclusion or culture of the business for other non-white or working class women? Outside the workplace I have no issue with women in tech initiatives, but I really do like what Sarah Lamb did with the Girl Geekdinners, which felt a lot more inclusive due to the 50% invited rule.

Its complex but thats the point, diversity and inclusion isn’t a thing you can throw magic dust/money at. Likewise training is good but its not something you think about away from base then come back and forget.

The way to build empathy, foster inclusiveness and create trust in the workplace, according to Mr Ashong Lamptey, is to discuss difficult topics in employee groups or staff networks that share a common identity. “Instead of guessing, ask the people who are having those experiences,” he says.

“Organisations should make this part of a long-term strategy,” Mr Ashong Lamptey says.

I have to say I especially like the idea of the reverse mentoring whereby managers are mentored by a minority staff member.

If only we could take a number of these practices and group them into something we could test and write up the studies of?

Time for a rework

Rework in Bologna

Something caught my eye while reading about, The Five Trends Shaping the Future of Work.

This is a generation of employees with technological fluency that is willing to live at home longer until they find a company that they truly want to work for. In other words, organizations must shift from creating an environment where they assume that people NEED to work there to one where people WANT to work there.

Need and Want… I believe this to be true in the creative classes, but certainly not for many out there unfortunately. Now thats something we should be working to change…

Interestingly from Stowe Boyd,

A recent report published by TINYhr, based on over 200,000 anonymous employee responses to ongoing engagement surveys, paints a pretty bleak picture of employee happiness.

Some highlights from the report, if you want to call them that:

  • Only 21% feel valued at work.

  • 49% are not satisfied with their direct supervisor.

  • More than one in four do not think they have the tools to be successful.

  • 66% of all employees don’t feel they have strong opportunities for professional growth in their current organizations.

  • 64% do not feel they have a strong company culture.

Work is due a massive refresh, and I mean all types of work for all people.

Discovering lovely workplaces

The old twitter offices

I had message on my flickr mail today. The subject read awesome workplaces. I though it may have been spam at first but I checked it out.

Dear Ian,

I found some great pictures of the Citizen Space workplace here: http://www.officedesigngallery.com/template_permalink.asp?id=154#comments

I would really like to add these pictures to my website: WOVOX.com.

WOVOX is a free and open platform for anyone to show and find workplaces. We want to help people find the workplace of their dreams more easily, but also learn from others and find inspiration for their own workplace.

There is room for credits and a link back to your website or social media profile. Your pictures will be available under an attribute & share alike creative commons license.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you,

Arjen Hoekstra

I totally forgot about the pictures I took of the CitizenSpace, the old twitter offices (see the photo above – yes that how twitter use to look back in 2006ish) and the creative commons office, all in San Francisco. I’ve lot loads more which I forgot about. Good thing about flickr keeping all these photos and of course the creative commons license which is a sign that I’m willing to share.

Wovox.com actually looks pretty sweet. The ethos seems pretty well thought out too. For example heres a bit from the user guideline page.

Authenticity! Better show a few things with spirit than a lot of stuff without depth. A mobile phone pic in the heat of the moment is worth much more than a non-descript €1000 pose shot.

Plus its really good seeing Creative Commons licenses being baked in from day one rather that being an after thought (i’m looking at you mixcloud.com crew).

Seeing all these work places in one place, has somewhat inspired me. I hope to add the BBC media city office to the mix in the near future, it will be interesting to see how it grows as we get more people too.