Have you ever considered how different forms of oppression intersect and interact with each other?
Have you ever considered how those forms of oppression create unique experiences of marginalization and privilege?
This is the essence of intersectionality.
The law professor and social theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw defined this concept as "a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects." Social markers such as age, race, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, origin, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. impact individuals and interact with each other, creating unique life experiences of marginalization and privilege. In trade unions, recognizing and embracing intersectionality is essential for creating an inclusive and diverse organization.
Workplaces are more diverse than ever. We can see members of different generations working with one another at the same place, the proportion of women in leadership positions is rising, the percentage of migrant workers is increasing, people with disabilities are becoming more represented in the workforce. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer workers are being acknowledged.
These and other changes are already impacting organisational cultures. These developments mean that organisations need leaders who can work effectively with a wide variety of people. Leaders and members that are able to check their privileges, leaders and members ready to listen and learn from the experiences of others, leaders and members prepared to make space on the table for the people that are not represented yet.
Training is a crucial component of promoting intersectionality in trade unions. Trade union leaders and members can benefit from learning about different forms of oppression and privilege. This can help them better understand the challenges faced by marginalised groups and create targeted initiatives to address these issues. It can also help trade union leaders and members become more aware of their own biases and privileges and work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable organization.
Intersectionality is an essential concept for creating more inclusive and diverse trade union organisations. By recognizing and addressing the unique challenges faced by different communities, trade union organizations can effectively advocate for the rights and needs of all workers. By supporting intersectional training, trade unions can create a welcoming and supportive culture that is better equipped to address the needs of all members.