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Intersectionality is when a company does not consider that an individual could be part of two intersecting minority groups. For example, a black woman could experience marginalization not only because she is black, but also because she is a woman. To create the best work environment, intersectionality and diversification factors must be considered when structuring an effective team.

Intersectionality can be seen as both positive and negative. Take an employee that is both handicapped and a minority, for example. The company may decide to promote someone else because they see this person as controversial. In contrast, this could be seen as a positive for a company working to be more inclusive. They might see this person as an opportunity to cater to a wider market of potential clients and ask this person to take a more prominent role. Having a diverse workforce can be a key factor in being profitable in this day and age. As corporations create a global reach for their products, they must have diverse workers to cater to their international market.

Minority women, particularly women of color, often experience micro-aggressions, which are subtle and, sometimes, not-so-subtle discrimination practices. To overcome these challenges, companies should not only talk about diversification and inclusion, but begin to make real, practical changes.

As with anything in life, change starts from the top. If those in leadership are not reflective of the staff or clients as a whole, then the company has missed the mark. To overcome many of these issues, it’s best to create good policies to protect employees. It is also important to educate workers and leadership about the importance of being diverse and inclusive. Teaching that it’s important to respect other cultures and not make insulting comments or harsh jokes is a great place to start. Building an effective team is about working cooperatively with a diverse group of individuals.

For companies to remain competitive in this new world market, leaving the homogenous mindset behind and embracing diversity is how companies can ensure survival. This is no easy feat. It will take time and dedication to create a diverse workforce.