The theory that the overlap of various social identities, as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual (often used attributively): Her paper uses a queer intersectionality approach.
As this is Pride month, it’s a great time to discuss intersectionality as a strength and asset in the corporate world. Members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community possess a vital perspective. Their broad and diverse intersectional experiences and characteristics make them one-of-a-kind employees.
Intersectionality can be a difficult concept to grasp, but let’s try to simplify things. If you look at any minority group, each one likely has a stigma. It’s not too farfetched to say that the more minority groups an individual identifies with, the greater the stigma. For example, someone who is a queer black woman may face more challenges compared to a heterosexual white man. And these challenges will likely be unique to the intersections between sexual orientation, race, and gender.
I am a first-generation immigrant, with a Latino, Central Native American, European background, who is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, and child of a U.S. Military Veteran. My own intersectional perspective and experience is quite unique and enables me to be empathic, self-aware of bias, and knowledgeable of planning blind spots. The combinations of these skillsets have led me to work on SAP’s Early Talent Acquisition team. In this role, I can contribute to an inclusive hiring process by recognizing the intersectionality of our candidates. By enabling candidates to present themselves through storytelling during the interview process, I have found it has been a great equalizer and has provided our candidates the opportunity to present their true authentic selves outside of a traditional resume review or phone screen.
Each candidate that is hired brings a new perspective leading to diversity of thought, innovation, and improvements to our company culture. The key to creating an inclusive interview process and making these hires is recognizing our own conscious and unconscious bias in our evaluation. The stronger we become in self-awareness of these biases, the better we can improve the overall candidate experience.
My own intersectionality has enabled me to see blind spots in planning and strategy development. Two key questions I ask myself in every development meeting is “What is the voice of the customer?” and “What are the different ways this plan can be perceived?” Once I have asked myself these two questions, I usually conclude that the plan is too micro or too macro. This tends to leave me as the person in the meeting playing devil’s advocate and suggesting a SWOT analysis, but ultimately battle testing our plan before implementation.
An inclusive culture matters and affects business’ bottom line. Deloitte reported that highlighted inclusive organizations generate more cash flow per employee, generate more revenue and rate themselves as more innovative. The impacts of fostering an inclusive environment for employee intersectionality not only benefits SAP and our teams but also benefits us as individual contributors to be our authentic selves every day.
This blog originally appeared June 24, 2019. Chris Krieger is a former senior technical recruiter at SAP.