A colourful wall with a sign that says: accessible entry

Intersectionality Action Plan

I spent most of the day finalising my feedback for the disability inclusion action plan for our sector, and sitting on a recruitment panel. Both of these activities involved active practice of intersectionality. That’s a concept that discribes how gender and race are interconnected with other forms of institutional disadvantage.

As I’ve previously discussed, our disability inclusion action plan sets out the policies and the outcomes that we’re working towards over the next few years. The plan aims to increase recruitment and promotion of people with disability, as well as improve our information technology, media and communications, procurement, and other practices to ensure they’re accessible and benefit disabled people. The plan will cover around 9,000 employees. I’m part of the disability inclusion steering committee.

Committe members were all invited to provide feedback on the draft plan. I’ve previously given feedback on all of the other sections of the action plan, and integrated our executives’ feedback and fed that back to the steering committee.

Today, I was just focusing on on my specific recommendations for people with disability who are also part of other minority groups.

One of the challenges with equity and diversity strategic plans is that they are often singularly focused. So for example, our sector has an excellent Aboriginal employment strategy, however, the word disability doesn’t appear at all. This risks, perhaps, that the specific needs of Aboriginal people are also disabled are not being adequately captured.

With our disability inclusion action plan, I’ve recommended that we adopt a framework of intersectionality.

I’ve recommended many specific targets that we can work towards, thinking about the career objectives for racial and other minority disabled workers (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds). I also made recommendations for how we can create institutional reform for disabled people who are also LGBTQIA, older disabled people, and those who live in regional NSW. My point being: these are not discreet groups, we need to think about disabled people who simulatenously experience multiple forms of exclusion.

Many equity plans do little to advance the careers of minorities because they make fuzzy recommendations. They also do not take into account the realities of minority groups (e.g. it’s not enough to create training opportunities if institutional discrimination is not managed proatively). Organisations also make up goals without research evidence. Later, when evaluating impact, it’s difficult to see why a specific goal was set (e.g. increase employment by 5.6%) and whether it was ever realistic.

I used academic references, and other applied research, to make SMART goals: specific, measureable, assignablable (or actionable), relevant and time-bound. I also calculated specific targets using census data and statistical modelling (with the help of one of my colleagues).

I’ve done my best to demonstrate why specific targets matter, and now it’s up to the rest of the committee to approve, or reject.

That was a big chunk of my day.

The later half of the afternoon I was mostly working with two colleagues who are sitting on a recruitment panel. We’re creating a position for a disabled student intern. It’s part of an excellent program where organisations can recruit disabled university students into a junior paid role. The student is provided with targeted support by the program. They’ll work on one of my research projects, so they get experience in a policy environment. This is really exciting and has taken a lot of planning and negotiation.

Today we did the first interview. Tomorrow, we’ll doing the second one. Both are young women of colour and look like very strong candidates.

References

Crenshaw, K. (1989) ‘Demarginalising the intersection of race and sex: a Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics, University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1(8): 139-167.

Doran, G. (1981) ‘There’s a SMART way to write management’s goals and objectives,’ Business Source Premier, 35-36.

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