How Does Intersectionality Really Affect People in the Workplace?

Written by Luke Kitchen
Last updated January 30, 2023

Intersectionality is defined as, “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”

Someone with an intersectional identity can fit into multiple categories of protected characteristics, for example, a black woman, a Hispanic trans person, a queer Asian person, and so on.

It is critical that we are aware of how intersectionality affects people in the workplace. It is an important issue that requires insight and awareness in order for people with intersectional identities to be both understood and supported at work. 

In this blog, we are going to look at the very real ways in which intersectionality can affect a wide range of people at work. 

Recruitment hurdles 

Before even entering the workplace, intersectionality can greatly impact the recruitment process. Statistics show that people with intersectional identities are significantly discriminated against and excluded in many recruitment processes across the U.K. 

Sometimes this happens even before someone enters the interview room. Many people are excluded from interviews due to their names showing any ethnicity other than white, their address highlighting a lower socioeconomic background, their background demonstrating pregnancy and maternity, and so on. 

It is important to acknowledge that there is not an equal playing field when it comes to applying for jobs. For people with an intersectional identity, the hurdles can be doubled. 

Promotion problems 

When in active employment, people with intersectional identities can face promotion problems. Women and people in the BAME community and promoted significantly less than white men. The majority of top positions in companies across the U.K. are still held by white men, and the numbers are changing on this topic much more slowly than we might be led to believe.

The problem with this is that promotion boards that make decisions on such matters are often filled with only white men. If white men are making all decisions in a workplace, how can fair, equal and intersectionality-aware decisions be made? They can’t. 

We can’t have intersectional workplaces if we don’t have intersectional identities sitting at the helm making the decisions. So, you can easily see how these issues bleed into each other. If women, queer and trans, and BAME people are left out in recruitment, they are underrepresented in workplaces, then underpromoted, and the cycle continues. 

Pay discrepancies

Statistics show that black women are paid 9% less than white women. While women are paid less than men already, black women are then paid less even again. 

It isn’t the case that black women experience intersectionality in that they experience sexism one week and then racism the next. The levels of discrimination are interwoven in such a way that black women have a doubly more difficult and unfair time at work overall. 

People with intersectional identities have to deal with bias, injustice, and discrimination on a much higher setting than anyone else. It is key that we understand this so that we may understand the impact this has on such people. The right support and equity come out of true understanding. 

Doubled discrimination 

58% of people in the BAME community feel that they have to be “on guard” at work for discrimination in its many forms. People with intersectional identities can feel extremely uncomfortable in many work environments and so this level of being on guard is increased for people in the BAME community who may also be older, pregnant, female, trans, non-binary, queer, and so on. Intersectionality affects people in the workplace in a very significant way. It can make everything from recruitment to everyday life in the office an awful lot more difficult. This can, in turn, lead to chronic stress and depression as the stakes are continually higher. 

If we can understand the true picture of intersectionality, then we can understand that more needs to be done. Both employers and colleagues need to help people with intersectional identities play on an even keel. More needs to be done to eradicate discrimination and bias from workplaces. Only then can all people can feel safe at work while being paid correctly and recognised for their achievements. 

That is something we should all be helping with.

Find Supportive and Inclusive Working Environments with Aspiring to Include 

At Aspiring to Include, we have the tools and resources to help people with intersectional identities find jobs that work for them. 

Our inclusive job board can help you find a job that won’t include layers of discrimination, exclusion and bias.

You can also take a look at our directory of inclusive employers to find someone that you really want to work for, for all the right reasons. 

It is important that accessible, inclusive, and diversity-positive working opportunities are created. And it is important that those are the positions we fill and support.

If you want the best working environment for you today, we will see you over on Aspiring to Include. 

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Last Updated: Friday March 1 2024
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