An important — and often unspoken — factor when it comes to promoting LBGTQ+ diversity across the food and consumables industry is that of intersectionality. The term is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination, among them racism, sexism and classism, combine, overlap or intersect, especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”
While this concept undoubtedly exists among other groups, it may be particularly pronounced among LGBTQ+ folks, who often juggle multiple identities at once.
“LGBTQ people are often subject not only to discrimination based on their sexual orientation, but also multiple aspects of their identity such as their race, gender, religion and immigration status, and other traits unique to the ‘intersection’ of their identities,” noted Eric Dyson, content marketing specialist at Chicago-based PeopleScout, the world’s largest recruitment process outsourcing provider. “Intersectionality goes beyond acknowledging the multiple forms of discrimination an LGBTQ individual may face in the workplace, and recognizes that the different forms of discrimination may intersect with each other and result in overlapping and reinforcing barriers to career opportunities.”
According to Dyson, “An intersectional approach in the workplace helps LGBTQ individuals by focusing on the unique challenges presented by the overlapping systems of discrimination they may face and finding ways to reconcile issues with attention and empathy.”
“The impact of intersectionality shapes the employee experience in several ways,” observed Florida Starks, director human resourcesat Chicago-based Conagra Brands. “This includes health care options offered by the company, parental planning benefits, ability to navigate the corporate landscape, and societal impacts of both parts and whole of identities. There are nuances of experiences across the LGBTQ+ spectrum that vary by race and ethnicity. Having a conversation on these topics is a necessary step to understand needs and shape future actions.”
“Intersectionality can be complex, as it can effect multiple forms of discrimination, but I believe our [diversity and inclusion] ambassadors help to break down the barriers of intersectionality at work,” asserted Dawn Higgins, diversity and inclusion manager at St. Louis-based Nestlé Purina PetCare. “Our approach provides us the opportunity to not be ‘boxed’ into groups based on race, gender, etc., giving associates room to embrace many areas of diversity and to work cross-functionally across these many dimensions of diversity. Everyone has a seat at the table to engage in the work, including the white male.”
“These intersections bring challenges, but they also bring insight and rich opportunity,” said Brent Miller, senior director, global LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. “We always work to bring intersectionality into what we do — not only as one community supporting another community and the challenges they face, but to bring to life the rich and wonderful diversity within the LGBTQ+ community.”