To Fully Celebrate Diversity, We Must Understand Intersectionality
Intersectionality certainly turns the chessboard of diversity into one that is multi-dimensional. Without intersectionality, diversity becomes a singular layer where people of that category of equality are myopically fighting for their own piece of discriminatory turf.
The basis for intersectionality is how various portions of an individual’s makeup can be discriminated against – with adverse effects. Individuals, communities, associations, businesses, and other groups that do not respect intersectionality in diversity and inclusion are missing the bigger picture. For example, 70% of disabilities go unseen. MS, autism, arthritis, brain injuries, mental illness, diabetes, epilepsy, cognitive and learning disabilities, chronic pain, fatigue, depression, and anxiety, to name just a small list, are all forms of invisible disabilities. However, when groups, organizations, and companies do not embrace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, they are completely missing the fact that they are, by default, in the DEI space and do not even know it.
At GiGi’s Playhouse, our vision is to see a world where individuals with Down syndrome are accepted and embraced in their families, schools, communities, and businesses. It is important to note, that while we serve people with Down syndrome, those individuals also meet at the intersection of race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, color, sexism, and physical disability along with the hidden disabilities mentioned previously.
The intellectually disabled community, which includes those with Down syndrome, is the most marginalized on the planet. Imagine how much more diverse it gets when you add in color and autism to the mix, for example. As another sample, a person’s disability, the color of their skin, gender, and religious beliefs all interact to affect an individual’s experience and influence biased outcomes in ways that cannot be attributed to one dimension alone.
Individuals who support and bang the drum for diversity become an aggregate number equal to the size of large countries. These individuals also champion the DEI efforts at the corporate level and these companies become the megaphone that all diverse categories need and appreciate. How does your company practice diversity? Are they looking for ways to start or continue to grow their DEI Employee Resource Group?
GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers, along with our community of Generation G certified organizations, is delighted to introduce our very own disability Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program. Promoting acceptance for all is a vital part of our organization’s mission. It has also become a critical piece of valued GiGi’s partners like Bain & Company, Microsoft, Grainger, Wintrust Bank, Voya, Sage, Mitsubishi Electric Foundation, and Accurate Personnel Services who see embracing diversity as integral to a meaningful workplace, including employee engagement, greater productivity, profitability, and employee retention.
Fortunately, more and more businesses and corporations are accepting those in diverse categories, including those with disabilities, and seeing the positive impact those individuals have on galvanizing a workforce. If your organization is ready to take this step forward, go to iacceptyou.org to find out more about being a corporate DEI partner with GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers.