In today’s diverse workplaces, organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of implementing comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. However, many still fall short by addressing diversity issues in isolation, overlooking the complex ways in which different aspects of identity intersect and overlap. This is where the concept of intersectionality comes into play, offering a more nuanced and effective approach to DEI efforts.

Understanding Intersectionality

Coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectionality refers to the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, gender, and class, which create overlapping systems of discrimination or disadvantage. For instance, a Black woman may face unique challenges that differ from those experienced by either white women or Black men, as her experiences are shaped by both her race and gender simultaneously.

By embracing an intersectional approach, organizations can create more inclusive environments that address the multifaceted nature of diversity and the varied experiences of their employees.

Implementing Holistic DEI Initiatives

To effectively incorporate intersectionality into DEI efforts, organizations should consider the following strategies:

Comprehensive Data Collection and Analysis

Start by gathering comprehensive demographic data that goes beyond basic categories. Include information on multiple aspects of identity, such as race, gender, age, disability status, and sexual orientation. Analyze this data to identify areas where intersectional disparities exist and inform targeted interventions.

Inclusive Policy Development

Review and adapt organizational policies to ensure they consider the experiences of individuals with intersecting identities. This may include revising parental leave policies, disability accommodations, or career development programs to be more inclusive of diverse needs.

Intersectional Training and Education

Provide training that educates employees and leaders about intersectionality and its importance in fostering a truly inclusive workplace. This can help raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by individuals with multiple marginalized identities and promote more empathetic and inclusive behaviors.

Diverse Representation in Leadership

Promote diversity in leadership positions and decision-making roles, recognizing that individuals with intersecting identities bring varied perspectives and insights. Actively support employees with diverse backgrounds in their professional development journeys.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Establish or enhance ERGs that focus on intersectionality. These groups can provide a supportive space for employees with diverse identities to share experiences, offer mentorship, and contribute to shaping inclusive workplace policies.

Intersectional Recruitment Strategies

Revise recruitment processes to embrace intersectionality. Ensure that hiring practices consider the unique challenges and strengths associated with intersecting identities. Aim for diverse interview panels and evaluate candidates based on a holistic understanding of their experiences.

Transparent Communication

Foster a culture of open communication around intersectionality. Encourage discussions about the unique challenges faced by employees with intersecting identities. This transparency promotes a sense of belonging and helps build a workplace culture that values diversity in all its forms.

Regular Assessment and Adaptation

Implement metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of intersectional initiatives. Regularly assess progress, gather feedback from employees, and use this data to refine strategies and ensure continuous improvement.

Case Studies: Intersectionality in Action

Several organizations have successfully implemented intersectional approaches to their DEI initiatives:

IBM’s Tech Re-Entry Program: This program helps professionals, particularly women, restart their IT careers after taking time away from the industry. By considering both gender and career stage, IBM addresses the unique challenges faced by women re-entering the tech workforce.

AllianceBernstein’s Diverse Talent Pipeline: The company partners with various organizations to connect with tech talent from underserved populations, offering career transition programs for former pro athletes and military members. This approach considers multiple aspects of identity and experience in diversifying their workforce.

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC): AAMC has implemented a formal DEI strategy that focuses on eliminating bias in hiring, identifying and removing problematic terminology, and tying DEI goals to leadership performance. Their approach considers various aspects of diversity and inclusion throughout the organization.


Implementing holistic DEI initiatives that embrace intersectionality is crucial for creating truly inclusive workplaces. By recognizing and addressing the complex ways in which different aspects of identity intersect, organizations can develop more effective strategies that support all employees. As we continue to evolve our understanding of diversity and inclusion, intersectionality will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of work.