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June 1, 2022

How to promote intersectionality and inclusion in the workplace

For many companies and communities around the world, the first quarter of 2022 was a period full of events sparking meaningful discussion, deep reflection, and joyful celebration, with wonderful dates in the diary such as International Women’s Day, LGBT History Month (UK), and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

At Cutover, we feel excited by the strides forward we’ve made during the first portion of the year in our ongoing efforts to create the most inclusive company environment possible. Having globally-celebrated events in the calendar has made keeping up positive discussion and general ‘momentum’ so much easier to manage. During Q1, we harnessed this positive momentum and launched our first ever Employer Resource Group (ERG) - Cutover Pride. Our Pride ERG is united by the mission of encouraging our Cutover LGBTQ+ team members to bring their whole selves to work each day and to strive to promote a sense of allyship and general education around topics affecting LGBTQ+ communities globally. With the great energy surrounding our ERG’s creation, it felt fitting to host our first Cutover Pride event: a panel discussion around the topic of intersectionality, facilitated by ERG members.

Intersectionality is recognizing that everyone has their own unique experiences of oppression and discrimination. Whilst our panelists’ candid reflections on their personal journeys highlighted injustices and difficult paths they had each experienced in different ways, we left the discussion feeling positive about the future, all of us in real agreement that we’ve seen significant mindset shifts and increased positive action around inclusivity as a key topic over the last few decades.

Our panel was made up of a diverse group of Cutovians from different ethnic groups, sexual orientations, socio-economic backgrounds, and genders, and yet we heard an array of shared experiences that connected each person to one another. A common theme that dominated the discourse of our female panellists was a general lack of acknowledgement, and, in turn, respect, in professional environments. The outdated misconception that women shouldn’t dare to dream resonated with all. In particular, Dhosjan, our VP Finance, navigated a male-dominated industry with the feeling of not being taken as seriously as her peers, as if she was “not in the [boys] club”. Similarly, Eva, Director of Demand Generation and Francesca, Head of Talent, had both experienced feelings of being dismissed and undermined by male counterparts in multiple settings in their past lives.

Gladly, our panelists were all in agreement that the biases and barriers of the past have begun to break down. Kieran, our CTO, reminded us that there is some room for optimism and we’ve seen great change over the last decade alone. It was the general opinion of the panellists that greater acceptance of minority communities has led to a more empowered, ambitious workforce, with a firmer belief in their own potential. Where once it was the norm to bring only your professional self into the workplace, we are now encouraged and accepted as being many things in many settings. Now individualism - rather than conformity - is better celebrated and more visible than it once was, a fact which we felt to be particularly relevant for the LGBTQ+ community.

We saw an encouraging number of folks tuning in for this conversation (more than 65% of the company stayed for the duration of our hour-long session in the middle of a busy working day!), from departments across the company and representing myriad cultures, age groups, backgrounds, and geographies: clearly, this was a topic that resonates across boundaries. Kieran pointed out the role of technology in aiding and facilitating discussion, making information readily available at our fingertips. Francesca added that “people can change and learn”, and it is important to acknowledge that technology and the internet allow for education and learning to be more accessible on subjects that may once have been difficult to penetrate. Our panellists agreed that the emergence of technologies that make information and communication more accessible have played a key role in promoting the discussion around intersectionality and broader Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion topics. 

In saying this, we know that the work is never done and intersectionality will be relevant for generations to come. The panel made a number of interesting points about what we at Cutover would like to see more of moving forward and agreed that carrying on the conversation is vital, and as individuals, we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Kieran brought up the importance of allyship in today's society, pressing that we all have a role to play in acknowledging when things aren't right. Dhosjan added that everybody (herself included), has unconscious biases, and that recognizing this fact will help us understand one another better, become more aware of our biases, and work together to break them down. 

Despite the continuous work that we all need to do to ensure the future is an inclusive and empowering place for everyone, at Cutover, we’re proud to be making strides towards ensuring that the future is bright. As Dhosjan put, “there’s beauty, there’s productivity, there’s talent, and there’s future in diversity”.

Learn more about creating inclusive workplaces from Stonewall.

Alaw Ellis
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