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VERCIDA: Exploring Intersectionality: Gender & Ethnicity

Category: VERCIDA, gender, Intersectionality, UK Athletics, Ethnicity, BME, vercida consulting, Build global

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On the 19th March VERCIDA organised an event entitled ‘Exploring Intersectionality: Gender & Ethnicity’ chaired by the Director of VERCIDA Consulting Dan Robertson. As an extension of International Women's Day, VERCIDA welcomed former British athlete Donna Fraser, now Equality, Diversity & Engagement Lead at UK Athletics and Sabrina Clarke, CEO of Build Global.

Intersectionality is the term used to describe our overlapping multiple identities, such as race and gender, age, sexuality or disability and social background. Intersectionality is increasingly becoming an area of focus for diversity management and poses some interesting challenges for UK employers.

Donna spoke about the intersectionality of race and gender by highlighting key areas of under-representation of BAME woman and women of faith in sport. Asian and Black females have the lowest participation rates (34.3% & 33.9% respectively) compared to White British females 40.8% and when looking at gender and religion Muslim Females have the lowest participation rates (25.1%) compared to those who have no religion (51.8%). These shocking statistics convey why organisations (not just specifically Sport) need to start building Leadership Development Programmes covering unconscious bias and cultural awareness as part of an integrated approach to change attitudes towards certain social categorisations. Donna spoke of setting targets and goals for organisations in order for them to achieve a diverse work force, stating that this “can be an effective tool to measuring progress when implemented in the right way”.  Donna ended her speech with a quote from the civil rights activist Audre Lorde “there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives”.

Sabrina asserts we can't have a conversation about intersectionality without understanding the context of how racism and sexism works. In order to identify this within organisations and make positive change we need to start by looking at leadership behaviours. Leaders who value different identities gain a competitive advantage through divergent thinking. A statistic from Business in the Community found that if Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) talent is fully utilised, the UK economy could receive a £24bn boost each year. Businesses and organisations who adopt a 'colour blind' approach will not see the benefits of diversity. ​

Overall, it was a very stimulating and educational event; achieving the consensus between Donna and Sabrina that there needs to be more implementation of development programmes to reduce bias in the workplace and to make sure senior management understand the importance of a diverse work force and can manage and retain the talent.

Thank you to all the members and non-members that come for this wonderful event. If anyone has any comments, feedback or questions please contact [email protected]. Alternatively, if you would like to find out about our in-house programmes, please contact [email protected]



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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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