An assortment of different faces

Exploring 40+ Dimensions of Diversity and Intersectionality at Work

The Typical “Problem”

Organizations often approach us with good intentions to enhance their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, with requests like "we need to hire more women" or "we want more Black leaders." While these goals are commendable, they only scratch the surface of the many dimensions of diversity.

Imagine being asked to describe yourself using only one aspect of your identity. It wouldn't be easy. 

That's because we're all made up of many different parts. When organizations only focus on one aspect, like race or gender, they miss out on the full story of who people are, which can lead to policies and programs that don't fully meet team members’ needs.

This resource is designed to help workplaces broaden their understanding of “diversity” and go beyond race and gender to explore over 40 dimensions of diversity. It explores the concept of intersectionality and details why workplaces must understand people’s unique needs better.  We hope this resource encourages organizations to design DEI efforts that make the workplace a better place for everyone.   

Intersectionality 101

Intersectionality is an analytical approach coined by activist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, challenging the misconception that identities are merely additive. 

This approach stems from a legal case where authorities failed to recognize discrimination against Black women, ignoring the crucial intersection of race and gender. It draws upon the foundational work and insights of numerous Black feminist pioneers and intellectuals, tracing back to the 1800s. A seminal moment in this lineage is Sojourner Truth's influential speech, "Ain’t I a Woman," which shed light on the distinct and overlooked forms of oppression faced by Black women.

Indeed, intersectionality helps us gain a better understanding of the unique experiences that emerge as a result of a person’s identity.  Algorithmic Justice League founder Joy Buolamwini made a contemporary riff on Truth’s speech in her video poetry essay, AI Ain’t a Woman, highlighting how inequities persist for Black women in Facial Recognition Technologies (FRTs). Buolamwini, among several Black women leaders in tech, have emphasized how these forms of artificial intelligence are significantly more inaccurate and harmful for Black women. 

“I am not 'half Japanese' and 'half Lithuanian Jewish.’ When I'm singing a Japanese folk song, I don't sing with half my voice but with my whole voice (...) I am complete, and I embody layers of identities that belong together. I am made of layers, not fractions.” - Yumi Tomsha

Learn more in Feminuity’s Resource Shifting Beyond A Gender-Only Approach.

Identities 101

Race and gender are a huge part of our day-to-day experience, but there are so many other parts that impact our experience and make us who we are, which need to be considered. It is the various identities that we hold that define our world.

Before we explore identities in more detail, here are some important things to remember:

  • Identities can be visible or invisible.
  • While some parts of our identity stay the same, others can change over time. 
  • We might share certain aspects of our identities in some places but not others. 
  • How we see a part of our identity might differ from how society sees it. 
  • Biases and stereotypes can lead to harmful assumptions about our identities.
  • Some parts of our identity are given to us at birth, while others we pick and shape as we go along.
  • There can be parts of our identities that give us advantages in the world and parts that experience regular, ongoing marginalization.
  • People have preferences for how they like to be referred to, whether they put their identity first or consider themself a person first.

Accessibility and Ability


Accessibility is the practice of designing products, content, processes, activities, programs, and environments that everyone (regardless of ability or background) can access or engage with. Accessible design proactively considers the needs of people with disabilities and other salient barriers to participation or use.


A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more challenging to do certain activities and participate in spaces designed for non-disabled people. The 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability indicated that 27% of Canadians have 1 or more disabilities that impact their daily activities. The study showed that 62% of people between 25 and 64 years of age with disabilities are employed, compared to 78% of people without disabilities. This is a considerable difference for organizations to consider in their hiring processes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1 billion people (or approximately 15% of the global population) have a disability.

The Social Model of Disability

What many non-disabled people may not understand is that disability is interactive. People become disabled when we co-create environments without them in mind. A wheelchair user is not disabled if an office or venue is built to accommodate their assistive mobility device. A person with sensory sensitivities is not disabled if given private space or noise-cancelling headphones. People who struggle with their mental health are not disabled when they have adequate access to mental health support, workplace leaves, and medications (if needed). In the social model of disability, disability is the outcome of social decisions and designs. 


Accommodations are adjustments or modifications that enable people with accessibility needs to participate fully at work and meet their full potential. Accommodations are required by law for all types of disabilities. It’s leading practice that workplaces have a transparent and straightforward process to request accommodations from the beginning of the application journey. Most accommodations cost nothing, and there are usually tax incentives to offset any costs. 

The Curb-Cut Effect and Making Accessibility The Norm

It’s important to note that accessibility benefits everyone, illustrated by the curb-cut effect. When curb cuts were introduced to better enable people who use assistive mobility devices to navigate public spaces, it also benefited caregivers with strollers, grocery shoppers with carts, movers, tourists with luggage, people who bike or skateboard, and people with temporary injuries. 

It’s leading practice to make accessible design a norm and not just a reactive measure. This can be done by embedding accessibility in curriculums, communications, Word Documents/Portable Document Formats (PDFs), built environments, meetings, events, web presence, and more.

We recommend organizations explore how they compare against others through the Disability Equality Index.

Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive abilities may affect an individual’s memory, problem-solving abilities, attention, communication, linguistics, and verbal, reading, math, and visual comprehension. A cognitive disability does not mean someone will not be a valuable team member or a great workplace leader. People with cognitive disabilities offer differing perspectives and often specific talents that can add value to the team and catalyze company innovation. 

Examples of cognitive disabilities include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, and more. 

It’s essential to recognize that all team members require resources, tools, and support to be successful at work. People with cognitive disabilities must be able to advocate for their needs, and organizations must be able to understand them. It is important to give every team member what they need to meet their full potential.

Physical Abilities and Disabilities

Physical disabilities refer to conditions that can limit physical activities. Physical disabilities can relate to vision, mobility, manual dexterity, muscle coordination, stamina, digestion, sensory capacities, balance, pain, and more. Physical disabilities can be congenital, hereditary, or acquired during someone’s lifetime through things such as accidents.

Conditions that can create physical disability include but are not limited to Blindness, Vision Loss/Distortion, Colour Blindness, Deafness, Hearing Loss/Distortion, Epilepsy, Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Cystic Fibrosis (CF), Spina Bifida (SB), Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Muscular Dystrophy, Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Celiac Disease, Diabetes, Vertigo, and more. It’s important to note that some people, such as the Deaf (Capital D) community, Little People (People with Dwarfism), and others might not conceptualize themselves as disabled but rather as unique cultural communities. 

Most people will acquire some form of physical disability through the natural process of aging (around 50% of people over 60 have disabilities). It’s in every organization’s best interests to proactively make environments more accessible.

A great starting point for communicating more accessibly is embracing leading practices regarding Alternative (Alt) Text for non-decorative images, colour contrast, colour use, typefaces and fonts, hashtags, Word Documents / Portable Document Formats (PDFs), acronyms, descriptive hyperlinks, logical heading structure and organization, live captioning, transcription, data visualization, and more.

Mental Health

Employee Wellness

Employee wellness has become a significant trend in Human Resources (HR), People and Culture, and Organizational Development. However, mental health is too often left out of the conversation. Without the support and resources that team members need for their mental wellness, organizations may experience an increase in absenteeism, work-family conflict, behavioural problems, and higher turnover rates.

Mental Health-Related Stigma

Mental wellness deserves the same level of attention and seriousness as physical wellness. Research from Johns Hopkins estimates that around 1 in 4 adults have mental health conditions. However, this number is probably larger. Only 1 in 3 people with a diagnosable mental health condition will seek treatment. The main issue preventing many from getting the help they need is stigma, followed by access to quality care and appropriate medications. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the prevalence of mental health-related stigma is a public health issue detrimental to economic development and societal welfare globally. 

Being part of a community that experiences marginalization often comes with additional and ongoing anxiety. People from these communities experience and/or anticipate experiencing microaggressions, discrimination, or harassment daily, resulting in an “emotional tax.” From here, people who hold identities that experience marginalization can be more susceptible to struggles with mental health that compromise their ability to thrive at work. Overall there are a number of important equity considerations relating to the intersectionality between disability and other identities and social factors. 

Additionally, it is often more difficult for people of different socialized races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and immigration statuses to access culturally competent mental health and other healthcare due to the underrepresentation of these communities in these professions and language barriers. 

Mental Health Disabilities 

Mental health disabilities refer to mental health conditions that limit people’s ability to participate or complete specific activities. Disabilities related to mental health can include but are not limited to Depression, Anxiety, Panic Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Addiction, Substance Abuse, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Gender Dysphoria, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Disordered Eating, Dissociative Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Schizophrenia, and more. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health conditions globally in the workplace. People experiencing regular marginalization are significantly more likely to develop a mental health condition, such as members of the LGBTQIA2+ community.  


Neurodiversity is the normal, valuable, and expected variance of human minds. While an organization or team can be “neurodiverse,” individuals are to be called “neurodivergent.” Alternatively, if someone’s cognition aligns with dominant societal patterns, they are considered neurotypical.

Notably, the National Symposium on Neurodiversity includes “Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others” in its definition of neurodiversity. This has some implications as these conditions vary in severity and present unique challenges relating to identity, diagnosis, and care. 

Interestingly, research has shown that men are far more likely to be recognized as neurodivergent. This is because the data on how conditions like Autism or ADHD present in men usually influence diagnostic criteria for neurocognitive conditions. This means that women (and likely transfeminine people) are often diagnosed later in life and are more likely to be questioned on the validity of their experiences. Specific evidence also indicates that transgender and non-binary people are more likely to be neurodivergent than the general population. 


While there may be certain stereotypes and stigmas around neurodivergent individuals, research has found that different forms of neurodivergence, like autism and dyslexia, enhance an individual’s ability to recognize patterns, retain information, and excel in math — all critical skills for any job. At the same time, we caution against siloing neurodivergent candidates into particular roles and, instead, prioritize each individual’s unique aspirations. 

It is good and beneficial for teams to learn, think, communicate, and express themselves in various ways.

Dietary Needs

People have different dietary needs depending on their allergies, intolerances, digestion patterns, faith, personal beliefs, addiction history, goals, and preferences. 

It’s essential to be aware of your team members' dietary needs and leading practices around dietary inclusion, primarily as you cater food and beverages. It’s a good idea to leave voluntary space for team members to share any important dietary needs in applications, their Human Resources (HR) profiles, and event registrations. 

As a baseline, organizations want to create menus or choose venues that have options or accommodations for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, and/or halal diets in addition to being mindful of common food allergies (e.g. peanuts, tree nuts, soy, shellfish, eggs, etc.) and cross-contamination.

Depending on the time of year and someone’s faith, team members may practice fasting (e.g. Muslims during Ramadan or Catholics during Lent). Team members can factor in people’s fasting schedules when they schedule meetings or other important company activities. This ensures those fasting have enough energy to participate.

Certain people struggle with different forms of disordered eating, and it is essential for colleagues not to put pressure or excessive emphasis on how much or what someone is eating. Other people struggle with addiction relating to alcohol. It is essential to communicate that any pressure around drinking is unacceptable. All organization events must have non-alcoholic beverage options, such as “mocktails,” sodas, juices, water, and specialty drinks and it can be a significant act of solidarity to offer a “12-Step” Program to team members. 

Personality and Thought Style

Personality and thought style refers to a person’s unique way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that combine to give others a sense of their distinctive character. Personality and thought style may involve patterns in people’s moods, attitudes, or opinions. People often adjust how they present themselves based on the setting. For example, some people act differently at work than at home. Encouraging diversity in personalities and thought styles enhances team dynamics and innovation. However, thoughts and behaviours rooted in prejudice or bigotry are never acceptable. 

Bringing various personalities and thinking styles into a workplace can create stress and unproductive conflict when approached incorrectly. At the same time, it can catalyze creativity, better decision-making, and constructive dialogue when approached correctly. To avoid the negatives, organizations may want to reconsider hiring for “culture fit.” This often acts as a way to shield the organization from any real change or transformation. Instead, organizations can benefit from hiring for “culture addby pursuing personalities that challenge dominant ideas and thoughts.

Culture Fit 

Evaluating someone for “culture fit” means evaluating a person based on how well they conform and adapt to the values and behaviours of an organization. Culture fit often introduces bias into processes (particularly hiring) where teams are more likely to favour people similar to them and penalize those who don’t conform.

Culture Add 

Evaluating someone for “culture add” means evaluating a person to decipher if they align with a company’s core values while appreciating the new perspectives, backgrounds, and work styles that can help an organization grow. Culture add asks us not to always search for hires with the same work experiences, degrees, personalities, and demographic backgrounds as everyone else on the team. Rather, it asks us to search for adaptable, curious candidates who bring fresh insights.

Personality Tests

Personality tests are prevalent in the workplace and give added texture to how someone works, leads, and interacts with others. Such tests can help organizations understand candidates' strengths, weaknesses, and gaps. This can build a company culture that supports extroverts, introverts, and everyone in between. However, it’s important to understand that personality tests can be problematic. They can provide a distorted image of a person when they over-emphasize some aspects and under-emphasize or omit others. Steer away from using personality tests in the recruitment or hiring process as they are biased against marginalized groups. They may be helpful in other cases, such as team bonding or building exercises. However, they must be prefaced with an explicit and stated caveat that they are neither definitive nor comprehensive.

Diversity of Thought

While organizations may take pride in their team's "diversity of thought," it's important not to use this as the sole metric for measuring diversity or as a shield against addressing other forms of diversity. It’s leading practice for organizations to routinely ask who is missing or hidden at the office and why. Organizations may want to consider how bias against some aspects of people’s personalities or thought styles might hinder opportunities.

Pet To Threat

Communities experiencing marginalization and underrepresentation often face penalties for their unique lived experiences and cultural differences. The “pet to threat” phenomenon adversely affecting the career arcs of Black women highlights the way organizations show initial support for culture add hires but then become silent or dismissive when they expose growth opportunities. 

Race, Ethnicity, Culture, and Geography

Cultural Background

Various factors make up different cultures. These can include language, religion, food, values, symbols, observances, and customs. The United States (US) and Canada are examples of countries with numerous cultures across different regions and localities. 

While many people enjoy learning about other cultures for short periods, it’s an entirely different experience to work with individuals from different cultures daily. 

Respecting team members' culture means being aware of stereotypes directed at these groups. Often, stereotypes about these groups are myths used to justify power imbalances, biases, and discrimination. Be respectful and aware of a team member's cultural background. 

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences can bring many learning opportunities and some complicated challenges and barriers among team members that hold discomforts toward cultures different to their own. 

For example:

  • Cheek kisses are fairly common in French culture. If you have a colleague or candidate who practices such behaviour, they may consider a cheek kiss as a friendly hello. However, another person might find this practice violates their boundaries.
  • Infrequent eye contact is a sign of respect in some Asian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern cultures. However, some may incorrectly take this as a social slight or a sign of distrust in North America.
  • A firm handshake is often recommended in North America. However, in many Asian cultures, a soft handshake is the norm. In other cultures, people shake hands vigorously for a longer time and may put their left hand on the elbow, which could feel invasive to some people. In other cultures, people may feel uncomfortable or inappropriate shaking hands with someone of a different gender. 
  • In Indian culture, people roll their heads from side to side to indicate agreement or use another body gesture. However, head nodding is the norm in North America, and some people may mistakenly interpret this as disagreement.
  • People from more collectivist Nordic countries like Sweden will be more reluctant to brag about their achievements. 
  • Some cultures might expect greater formality, while others might expect a more easy-going environment at work. 
  • Cultures with traditional foods and diets that vary from the dominant groups within an office can be (harmfully) labelled as having disarming scent. Destigmatizing food will enhance belonging in the workplace.


Multiculturalism refers to the coexistence of multiple cultural identities within individuals and groups. It recognizes that cultural diversity enriches our world and that different cultures are worth preserving and deserving of respect. In a globalized society, it is important to recognize that many people will resonate with multiple cultures for various reasons. This could depend on the unique history of their immigration experience, or the colonization of their traditional land, as examples. For this reason, it is important to validate and make space for individuals to share the cultures that inform how they experience the world. 

Above all, educating your team about cultures and celebrating multiculturalism is important. Additionally, creating a culture that encourages cultural competency and cross-cultural communication practices will help team members explore each other's cultural differences without creating a hostile work environment.

Geographical Location

Geographical location refers to the places that people currently live and where they have lived throughout their lives. Geographical location plays a major role in the culture, language, education, social roles, socioeconomic status, beliefs, and ideologies a person is accustomed to. Remember, just because an individual lives in a particular location now doesn’t mean they’ve always lived there. Therefore, it’s important to get to know your candidates’ and colleagues’ rich history to better understand their unique experiences in life before working with you.

A common distinction concerning a geographical location is between urban, suburban, and rural environments. Urban people are often stereotyped as more liberal, educated, and pretentious. Alternatively, people in rural areas are often stereotyped as more family/community-oriented, politically conservative, religious, and less educated. It’s important to avoid flattening stereotypes about urban and rural life. We must not make assumptions about each person’s unique upbringing and experiences in these environments. 

Urban economies are generally considered more corporate, costly, and stratified. Alternatively, rural economies are often considered more rustic, affordable, and less prosperous. Therefore, organizations may want to be ready to adjust their base compensation for entry-level and frontline workers so everyone can live comfortably, no matter the cost of living in a given area. Organizations may also be mindful of contributing to gentrification as they grow. For those who don’t know, gentrification is the displacement of existing communities and businesses largely composed of racialized, LGBTQIA2+, and low-income people. This happens when businesses purchase properties in affordable areas, which leads to an influx of wealthy wage earners, increasing rent and everyday expenses and pricing current residents out.

Moreover, a geographical region's continuous history and/or connection to colonization will directly inform the individual's experience within that location. Organizations that intentionally work toward identifying the systems of oppression that affect their people due to the influence of colonization in their specific geographical regions will be better equipped to actually support their people. 

Brain Drain and The Digital Divide

The “Brain Drain” phenomenon describes the documented trend of young, college-educated professionals migrating from rural areas to urban environments for more opportunities and greater income potential. With the rise of remote working arrangements, organizations need to think about promoting equity and lessen the significance of this pattern by hiring and allowing professionals to work from rural communities. 

A key equity concern is that urban environments are often better resourced than rural environments. This is exemplified by the digital divide in which members of rural communities are less likely to have laptops, tablets, or access to a strong, consistent internet connection. Organizations can subsidize team costs relating to the internet and technology when feasible, especially for team members living in rural areas. 

National Origin

National origin refers to the country where a person was born or where their ancestors lived. No matter where your company is headquartered or how many remote team members you have on staff, you will likely work and interact with people who began their lives elsewhere.

Regardless of where a person is located, the country where someone is born or spent most of their young life can provide a set of cultural traits that they may always carry with them. From religious beliefs to personal ethos and much more, a person’s national origin can define many things about them. Some people have unique experiences relating to national origin, which involve frequent migration to different countries. They may likely hold multicultural identities as a result. Different people can also hold harmful biases and stereotypes about different countries, which are important to challenge and not perpetuate in the workplace.

The terms Global North and Global South are also important descriptors related to national origin. Contrary to the geographical language, not all countries in the Global North are in the North, and not all countries in the Global South are in the South. “Global North and Global South” replaces more biased terminology for grouping nations, such as “developed and undeveloped countries” or “Third World countries.” 

These terms group the world’s countries into two categories based on differing levels of wealth, economic development, income inequality, democracy, and political freedom. The Global North represents around one-quarter of the world’s population yet controls four-fifths of the income earned anywhere in the world. 90% of the manufacturing industries are owned by and located in the North.

Language and Accents


Language refers to someone’s principal method of communication using structured words in speech, writing, or gesture (e.g. Sign Language).

Around 3% of the world uses four or more languages, and around 1% uses five or more languages. Monolingual experiences are most common in countries predominantly using the English language, such as the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, and Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ). This is likely due to English being the primary language of business globally, which is notably deeply connected to British and American histories of colonization and erasure of Indigenous languages. 

People can have varying degrees of fluency and proficiency in different languages relating to reading, writing, listening, and real-time communication. Different governments, companies, and organizations will have their unique benchmarks to determine whether someone’s use of language is strong enough for effective communication in a professional setting. The language or vocabulary that someone uses can also vary in accessibility, meaning all languages have more complicated, lesser-known words. These words are often deployed in advanced academic settings and are not as easily understood outside these spaces. Different industries, specializations, and knowledge-related disciplines will also have niche terminology or jargon that is uncommon outside of these settings. 

Many languages have meaningful differences, slang, and influences of Indigenous languages depending on the region they are used (e.g. Distinct forms of Spanish practiced across Latinoamérica vs. Castellano). Research shows that there are various distinctions in the structure and communication of languages that can have meaningful effects on how different people perceive, experience, and interpret the world. For example, Chinese-speaking children learn to count earlier than English-speaking children because Chinese numbers are more regular and transparent than English numbers (in Chinese, "eleven" is "ten one"). Most languages also have words that are broadly considered profanities, swear words, cuss words, obscenities, or expletives (e.g. the F-word in English), yet are culturally normalized for many. 

While French and English are the official languages of Canada, people in Canada speak at least 215 languages. The United States Census Bureau reports found that at least 350 languages are spoken in US homes. Unlike most countries, and contrary to popular belief, the US does not have an official language. However, language, linguistics, and accents can significantly affect an individual’s ability to get and keep a job. 

For job seekers, if a job description or recruitment materials are only in one language (e.g. English), it may be difficult for them to apply for a role or make it through an interview process. While it is not feasible for companies to translate all of their recruitment materials into 200+ languages, providing a few additional translations for common languages in your community and workplace can be helpful. You may also consider utilizing an online translation service or an in-person interpreter for roles that don’t require individuals to be fluent in a particular language to work.


Accents refer to the way someone sounds when they communicate. They are connected to dialects, which is a form of language particular to a specific region (e.g. Welsh English vs. Scottish English). Most dialects come with idioms, which are phrases that have a meaning outside of their literal meaning. They are more difficult for language learners to understand. Vernacular refers to the everyday language and slang of a given region, culture, or community. 

The perception of accents is normal but can be troubling when people judge or discriminate against an individual’s intelligence and abilities simply by the way they pronounce certain words. For example, US people with Southern accents are more likely to be interpreted as uneducated. Individuals may also have an affinity for people who have a similar accent to their own. Understanding different accent biases will help you and your team to identify your own growth opportunities and meet people from different language backgrounds in fair and equitable ways. 


Ethnicity refers to identifying with a distinctive culture linked to common ancestry. People in North America often identify with more than one ethnicity, and multi-ethnic demographics continue to rise in the region.

Ethnicity is different from race and is based on learned behaviours. Ethnicity is associated with history, nationality, heritage, dress, customs, language, values, religions, and geographical background. In contrast with race, ethnicity is usually self-ascribed and more determined by where someone lives and the culture they share rather than visible physical characteristics. 

Some examples of ethnicity categories may include American, Arabs, Australian, Brazilian, British, Cambodian, Canadian, Chinese, Costa Rican, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dominican, Dutch, Egyptian, Ethiopian, French, Finnish, German, Greek, Guatemalan, Haitian, Hungarian, Indian, Iranian, Irish, Israeli, Italian, Jamaican, Japanese, Jewish, Kenyan, Korean, Lebanese, Libyan, Lithuanian, Mexican, Muslim, Nigerian, Norwegian, Pakistani, Palestinian, Peruvian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Rwandan, Salvadoran, Samoan, Saudi Arabian, Serbian, Singaporean, Slovenian, South African, Spanish, Sri Lankan, Sudanese, Swedish, Swiss, Syrian, Tanzanian, Thai, Turkish, Ugandan, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Zambian, Zapotec, and more.

Some people identify their ethnicity more with a region than a nationality. For example, in Italy, some people might identify more with the label “Sicilian” than the label “Italian.”


Common Racial Categories in North America 

Common racial categories in North America include Arab, Asian, Black, Brown, Hispanic, Indigenous, Latinx/Latine, Middle Eastern/North African (MENA), Native, Pacific Islander, and white. Many people also identify as multiracial, meaning that they belong to two or more racial groups. It is important to note that racial classifications are not exact and cannot be defined biologically, genetically, or anthropologically. People often mistakenly perceive someone to belong to a race that they do not, emphasizing the imprecise and fluid nature of racial categories. Team members ought to avoid making assumptions about another person's race. 

More than one-fourth of Canadians are racialized (26.5%) and by 2041, racialized people are projected to comprise 38-43% of the Canadian population. In the United States (US), 40% of people identify with a racial category different from “white,” and it is projected that by 2045, that number will surpass 50%.

Race vs. Ethnicity

People may identify more with their individual ethnicity than their race. For example, Latinx/Latine people are far more likely to identify with their nationality (e.g. Cuban, Dominican, Guatemalan, Venezuelan, etc.) than the broad label of “Latinx/Latine.” Race can sometimes feel flattening because of its strong connection to physical characteristics. As well as the resulting lack of nuance around meaningful cultural and historical differences between people of the same skin colour. However, people of the same race face many of the same challenges. 

Nadra Kareem Nittle provides a clear example of race vs. ethnicity. She states, “Race and ethnicity can overlap. For example, a Japanese-American would probably consider herself a member of the Asian race, but if she doesn't engage in any practices or customs of her ancestors, she might not identify with the ethnicity, instead considering herself an American.”

Racialized Vs. Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) 

Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) is a term that was largely popularized on social media at the height of global protests against racial injustice spurred by the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). However, the term is imperfect, not necessarily suited to the Canadian context, and has several valid criticisms.

BIPOC implies that advocates should always centre on Black and Indigenous experiences. However, campaigns like Stop Asian Hate show that other forms of racism, like anti-Asian racism, can be ignored and heightened with deadly consequences. The acronym of BIPOC may also minimize the differences between racial groups by reducing Latinx/Latine, Asian, Arab, and other racialized people. 

We use the term “racialized” because it highlights the processes and systems that create racial disparities. However, our strongest recommendation is avoiding umbrella terms around race and using specific language whenever possible. This is because racism manifests in specific ways for specific communities, and it is important to name these unique forms of racism so we can challenge them. For example, anti-Asian racism (Model Minority Myth) is different from anti-Black racism (tone-policing Black women) and will require different forms of allyship, education, and interventions to address. 

Global Realities Around Race

Concepts of race are different throughout the world and history. However, a few things that have remained constant are the marginalization of people from non-dominant racial groups, the evolving concept of “whiteness,” and the privileges attached to “whiteness.” We say “evolving” because “whiteness” is not objective or stable across times, places, and cultures.

For example, in the United States (US), Polish, Greek, Hungarian, Slavic, Italian immigrants, and others initially experienced several prejudices. Many white Americans labelled them as inferior and thought they would “contaminate” bloodlines. These Southern and Eastern European immigrants were not targeted by interracial marriage bans or segregation laws that put them above Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in American racial hierarchies. However, they were not treated fairly (e.g. employment discrimination) by dominant white groups (e.g. people from England, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia). It was only by consistently reinforcing and perpetuating racism against Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that these communities were eventually incorporated into “whiteness.” 

One Drop Rule

It’s important to emphasize that racism is a global phenomenon. Some people may be quick to decry egregious forms of racism in North America and fail to acknowledge racism in their context. Race is constructed in many ways around the world. The United States (US) uses the one-drop rule to determine someone’s race. This means that if someone has any Black ancestry, they are usually considered Black. In Brazil and other parts of Latin America, colonizing forces were less apprehensive about interracial children. As a result, Brazil became a far more multiracial and racially fluid society. Despite not having any segregation or apartheid laws throughout its history that many other countries imposed, Brazil still struggles with issues of colourism.


Colourism is a common form of discrimination in which people are conditioned to treat lighter or fairer skin with greater value, desirability, and inclusion. This occurs both within and outside of racial communities. For example, in many Asian countries, darker skin is linked to lower-class people. Moreover, lighter skin and whiteness are usually more celebrated in standards of beauty worldwide. Generally, the darker your skin tone is, the greater oppression you are likely to face.

Apartheid and Non-Han Chinese Oppression

The Apartheid years in South Africa (1948 - 1994) are another global reality of racism. During these years, the South African government enforced a robust segregation project that systematically and unequally separated groups based on race. A white-led government determined where racialized people could live, work, and exist. South Africa is still addressing the ongoing impacts of apartheid, such as continued residential segregation and gentrification

In China, there is currently systemic discrimination against non-Han Chinese people. Marginalized and underrepresented races/ethnicities (about 10% of the Chinese population) are routinely denied access to elite universities and urban job markets based on their race/ethnicity.

Black and White

It’s important to recognize that not all conceptions of race are predicated on the binary of Black or white. For example, many nations have adopted an official definition for anti-Roma racism, which encapsulates the long history of marginalization, exclusion, physical violence, cultural devaluing, and hate speech directed at Roma peoples. Roma peoples were persecuted under the Nazi genocide and continue to face significant disparities today with the European Union (EU) citing that 80% of Roma peoples live below the poverty line

Numerous intersecting histories and beliefs influence global racial inequity. Therefore, we must culturally tailor antiracist strategies depending on where organizations operate. 


Caste refers to a system of social stratification passed on hereditarily and is unchangeable from birth. The caste someone is born into is usually linked to their position in society, occupations they can hold, who they can marry, where they can live, and how they are treated. 

“Lower castes'' usually face social exclusion and stigma from “higher castes” in addition to economic inequalities. “Lower castes” are usually forced into more menial and hazardous jobs. In a caste system, people cannot ever change their caste. Caste systems are usually underpinned by rules and ideas relating to what is “pure” and what is “dirty” or “polluting”—applying these labels to different people within a caste. 

There are significant differences between race and caste. Two people can come from the same village, be of the same race, skin colour, and religion, and yet be treated in very different ways according to caste. 

The largest and most well-known example of a caste system is in India, which divides Hindus into four main categories: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Outside of these four official castes are the Dalits, or “the untouchables,'' who are at the bottom of the power structure and historically treated as outcasts. Unfortunately, castes continue to affect people’s trajectories and treatment despite anti-discrimination and affirmative-action legislation for lower castes in India.

Several United Nations (UN) human rights bodies have expressed serious concern about the human rights situation of Dalits and other persons affected by similar forms of caste discrimination. Caste-related discrimination is estimated to affect more than 260 million people worldwide, especially in Asia and Africa. Caste discrimination is found in varying degrees in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan, Micronesia, Yemen, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Ghana, Niger, Mauritius, Mauritania, Madagascar, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, Suriname and possibly more countries. It also occurs in Diaspora communities in Europe, North America, and Asia.

Citizenship Status

Citizenship status refers to someone’s right to live and work within a specific national jurisdiction. Its determination and intricacies vary around the world. Citizenship status usually comes with a set of rights (e.g. constitution), entitlements (e.g. social programs), and responsibilities (e.g. certain taxes) that a person will have.

Some countries grant citizenship to anyone who is born within their borders (“jus soli” - law of the soil), while others only grant citizenship to people who are born to one or more official citizens (“jus sanguinis” - right of blood). People can have more liminal statuses outside of official or full citizenship within countries. These are granted through visas related to naturalization, immigration, marriage, refuge, work, business, education, travel, tourism, and more. 

Some people may have immigrated to a new country as refugees for their family’s safety and survival without much of a choice about where they ended up or if they genuinely wanted to move at all. Other people may be living in a country undocumented or have family members who are living undocumented for similar reasons. Organizations would benefit from ensuring team members avoid inflammatory language such as “illegal immigrants” or “illegal aliens” when referring to people who simply lack specific legal paperwork.  

Citizenship status alone can significantly affect foreign-born workers' ability to get a job or break past immigration and citizenship status stereotypes. Common harmful biases about immigrants are that they bring crime, take jobs, and do not integrate well with a host culture. Xenophobia is on the rise globally, according to the UN. It is leading practice for companies to intentionally validate and make space for different migration experiences and cultural practices (e.g. veiling) in their workplace. People who migrate to a different country often have immense anxieties about their immigration status. 

Immigration in Canada is fuelling Canada’s population growth; 98% of the population's total growth from 2022-2023 was due to immigration. Furthermore, as of 2021, 23%  of Canada is composed of immigrants. The five largest foreign-born groups in Canada are from India, The Philippines, China, Syria, and Nigeria, accounting for 33% of the total recent immigrant population. 

As of 2019, the United States (US) has 44.9 million immigrants (14% of the total population). This is the highest absolute number of immigrants in a country compared to any other nation. The top countries of origin for immigrants in America are Mexico (24%), India (6%), China (5%), the Philippines (4.5%), and El Salvador (3%). 


The Migration Experience

The migration experience involves the distinct biographies, challenges, and complexities of individuals who have changed their national, regional, continental, or geographical location. People migrate for various reasons, including political turmoil, employment, natural disasters, economic necessity, education, improving quality of life, and personal development. 

Note: We recognize that everyone will have a distinct and unique experience regarding the culture through which they express themselves or what resonates with them. It is not a given that your place of birth must be a culture that informs the way you experience the world. For this reason, we believe it’s essential not to minimize the lived experiences of people to just a place of birth.

Digital Nomads and Flexible Work

During the pandemic, there has been an increase in digital nomads (people who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle allowing them to travel and work remotely anywhere in the Internet-connected world.) The increased demand for more flexible work arrangements has presented new opportunities and challenges for organizations.

It’s also important to recognize that not everyone working in a location different from their company headquarters is necessarily an immigrant. Many individuals have chosen to relocate to their country of nationality or family heritage throughout the pandemic for personal, safety, and economic reasons. Likewise, many people have started their professional careers working remotely from their home country for organizations that are based in a different geographical location. A solution to this misrepresentation can be identifying people who associate these experiences as “global remote workers.” 

Foreign Credentials

In the workforce, it’s important to make space to understand the unique cross-cultural experiences certain team members may have from migrating. Migrant workers tend to be pushed toward “less skilled” labour markets, as their credentials are not often recognized in countries like the United States (US) and Canada. 

Language Surrounding Migration: Ex-Pats vs. Immigrants

The way people talk about migration can sometimes show bias and perpetuate harmful systems. For example, white migrants from countries like the United States (US), Canada, and Great Britain are often called “expatriates” or “ex-pats” while everyone else is called an immigrant. In this way, seemingly mundane language can create a social hierarchy around migration and movement, reinforcing white people as superior. “Immigrant” connotes a negative association, whereas “ex-pat” suggests positive movement like a career change, vacation, tourism, and personal growth. One solution to this is to be critical of where and when you use the term “ex-pat.” 

The Roma

The Roma and Traveller communities are historically nomadic communities from various ethnic groups, such as the Romany peoples and Irish Travellers. The Roma and Traveller communities have been uniquely persecuted and continue to face marginalization within every European Union (EU) country. Each has endured discriminatory laws against them at some point in history. Some in the Roma community do not mind being referred to as “Gypsies.” However, this term is typically offensive and is best avoided. During the Second World War, approximately one-quarter (250,000) of the Roma population in Europe was killed during the Holocaust. 

Harm against Roma and Traveller communities continues today as many people use the term “gypped” uncritically. The term is derived from the word gypsy and signifies that someone or something has been defrauded, cheated or swindled. It is important to remove this word from one’s vocabulary. The word gypsy has also been used by influencers in the travel and fashion industries to signal someone who is “free-spirited.” The use of the word gypsy in this way is a form of cultural appropriation and whitewashing. People without specific ties to the customs, history and lived experiences of the Roma and Traveller Communities make money off parts of their culture, like travelling, without experiencing social ostracism. The history of oppression in Roma and Traveller communities is then erased as the word instead symbolizes the freedom of white movement and entrepreneurship. Be critical of Instagram accounts, travel blogs, books, clothing, and merchandise that capitalize on the term gypsy.

Gender and Sexuality

Visit the Gender Unicorn Infographic by Trans Student Education Resources (TSER) to explore the distinctions between sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual/romantic orientation.


Sex is a scientific term referring to a patterned configuration of the external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, hormone levels, chromosomes, and secondary sex characteristics in different humans. Sex characteristics vary and sex is not binary, as there are many differences relating to sexual development.

Some people are intersex, meaning they carry variations in their reproductive and sexual anatomy that differ from what is traditionally considered “male” or “female.” For example, someone with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS) will be chromosomally XY, but will have nearly all the bodily characteristics we associate with being female and will typically be raised as a woman. People with CAIS and their loved ones usually do not discover they have CAIS until puberty. 

Someone’s sex assigned at birth is the sex marker initially listed on their birth certificate. It’s usually based on an external medical examination and the sex someone is given at birth often determines the gender they will be raised as from childhood. Different jurisdictions increasingly allow intersex sex designations on birth certificates and non-binary identification documents.


Pink: For Boys?

Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society deems masculine, feminine, or androgynous. The concept of gender is often confused with the concept of sex. These are two distinct yet related facets of a person. Ideas around gender vary throughout history, cultures, and contexts. Neither sex nor gender is binary.

For example, in North America, pink was considered a strong, manly colour and blue a more feminine, delicate one. Furthermore, in Indonesia, parts of West Africa, and Scotland, men can wear what many in North America would call a skirt. People identify and express their gender in a range of different ways globally and throughout their lives. Gender is constantly evolving and changing with time. 

The Gender Binary

The gender binary is a social construction of gender common to the Western world, which asserts that there are only two distinct and opposite genders determined by the sex assigned at birth: male/masculine/men and female/feminine/women. The popular myth of the gender binary stigmatizes and promotes violence toward people who transition genders, identify beyond the gender binary, or behave in ways that contradict the gender binary. Moreover, the gender binary is deeply connected to colonization. Many pre-colonial Indigenous communities in North America had an honoured and respected role for gender-variant people in their communities, which was later captured in the umbrella term, Two-Spirit

Additionally, people defy the gender binary every day. No person completely adheres to the idealized expectations that the gender binary upholds. Everyone has been mocked or policed for desiring something or doing something not in accordance with their gender. For example, being told to play with a different toy, wear different clothing, play different games, have different interests, express yourself differently, etc. 

The gender binary’s “two and only two” model of gender does not fully capture any person’s true experiences and erases the intersex community, non-binary people, and additional genders beyond the man/woman binary. Globally, there are many examples of gender diversity beyond the gender binary. These include but are not limited to the Indigenous Two-Spirit in North America, the Hijra in South Asia, the Fa’afafine in Pacific Islander communities, and more.

Gender Identity

I Don’t “Identify As,” I Just Am

Gender identity refers to a person’s innate understanding of who they are. This includes being a man, a woman, a girl, a boy, non-binary, fluid, in between, or outside of the gender binary. This may or may not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth. 

While the term “gender identity” is a useful way to distinguish between how someone feels inside and how they express themselves in society, someone’s sense of gender is an indisputable reality of who they are. It’s not something they simply “identify as” or can be challenged and trivialized. 

Team members must always respect someone’s chosen name and pronouns as a non-negotiable sign of dignity and respect. 

Keep in mind, a person’s visual appearance, voice pitch, name, dress, sex characteristics, and/or gender expression are unreliable proxies for gender identity and can never tell us how someone truly feels inside. 

Gender and Emotional Labour

Women and non-binary people often face unique inequities in the workplace that men do not. For example, women and transfeminine people are usually responsible for the care and emotional labour in society and face greater scrutiny when navigating family-related issues during their careers. Women and transfeminine people are often labelled as “too aggressive” just for being assertive like men. Non-binary people are frequently erased by the ways organizations collect data and approach gender. Men are well-represented among senior leadership and high-paying positions across nearly all industries, sectors, religions, and governments. Men often face far less intense expectations and bias regarding their grooming and appearance at work. 

Gender Expression

Gender expression is a person's presentation of their gender. These outward expressions of gender can be intentional or unintentional. They involve one’s mannerisms, clothing, hair, speech, voice, interests, clothing, pronouns, activities, and more.

It is important to understand that someone’s gender identity and gender expression can be different. For example, someone can identify as a woman and express their gender more masculinely or identify as a man and express their gender more femininely. Someone’s gender expression can evolve as they learn more about what makes them most happy and comfortable. 

Transgender vs. Cisgender


Cisgender refers to individuals whose gender aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth


Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to people whose gender is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. Transgender is an adjective, not a noun, and is often abbreviated to “trans.” Transgender is the preferred term to “transsexual,” which many in the transgender community consider outdated medicalized terminology. A person who is transgender does not need to have a certain gender expression, hormonal composition, or physical anatomy to be transgender.

Transgender people encounter higher rates of unemployment and lower levels of pay and are more likely to experience harassment and discrimination in the workplace. They are also less likely to feel comfortable being “out” at work and feel less supported by their managers. Benefits packages often have critical gaps for transgender people, particularly concerning gender-affirming practices.


Non-binary refers to people who experience gender identity and/or gender expression outside of the categories “man” and “woman.” Several other terms describe gender identities outside of this binary, such as genderqueer, non-conforming, gender expansive, agender, bigender, genderfluid, and many more. Non-binary people may or may not identify as transgender.

There are a multitude of genders within, between, and beyond the gender binary. 


A pronoun is a word that one may substitute for a noun. Pronouns are one way we express gender and how others perceive our gender. Most people have pronouns that are used daily in place of their names. He/Him, She/Her, They/Them, and Ze/Hir are all examples of gender pronouns in the English language. 

Research shows that people who are misgendered experience increased feelings of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and worse. Canadian courts have also ruled that misgendering is a human rights violation. When teams understand the gravity of getting someone’s pronouns right, they then also appreciate how imperative it is to promote pronoun inclusion.

It is leading practice for organizations to encourage proactive pronoun sharing among leaders and teammates to allow people to share their identities on their terms. However, pronoun sharing should never be mandatory. This is because some transgender or non-binary people may not be ready to disclose their gender identity or might fear discrimination if they do. In place of mandates, embrace reciprocity - share your pronouns to proactively create space for others if they feel comfortable sharing too. Focus on creating a culture where stating pronouns is welcome, common, and visible across departments, roles, and leadership.


Sexuality is someone’s enduring emotional, romantic, sensual, or sexual attraction to other people in the world. Sexuality is distinct from gender, gender expression, and sex.

Labeling Sexuality

Language is evolving to develop labels that people feel capture the nuances of sexuality that they experience. We encourage organizations to avoid the use of the word “straight,” which implies heterosexuality is more natural and appropriate. It also has a biphobic history

Monosexual, Plurisexual, and Asexual Spectrum Identities

Gay and Lesbian are monosexual identities, meaning that people who identify with these terms are usually only attracted to one gender, the same gender. Bisexual, Pansexual, and Queer are non-monosexual or plurisexual identities, meaning people who identify with these terms are usually attracted to more than one gender. Asexual and Demisexual are identities that relate to one’s level of sexual desire. Asexual people experience very low or no sexual desire, and demisexual people only experience sexual desire once an emotional bond is formed. Questioning people are still discerning their sexual orientation. 

A Fluid Spectrum

Someone’s idea of their sexuality can be fluid and change over time. Sexuality is a spectrum, and many people fall somewhere in the middle rather than purely on one end. Studies show that around half of Generation Z does not identify as exclusively heterosexual. Workplaces would benefit from fostering inclusive cultures for sexual diversity, especially in light of the changing composition of the workforce.

Sexuality is Independent of Behaviour

Someone’s sexual orientation is independent of their behaviour. For example, someone who has not come to terms with being gay may only pursue heterosexual relationships due to stigma. A bisexual person is still bisexual even when they are in a monogamous, committed relationship with one gender. An asexual person may choose to have sex with a partner, especially if that partner is not asexual, but that does not invalidate their asexual identity. 

Sexuality and Stigma

Diversity in sexuality is often relegated to the shadows of office initiatives due to unjust politicization and sensationalism. Sexuality is fundamental to who we are, and people communicate about their sexuality with us subtly on a daily basis when they discuss their families and partners or have a picture of them on their desks, as examples. Designing organizational practices and procedures to acknowledge everyone is a leading practice for inclusive workplaces.



“Out” refers to a state of being after someone has publicly disclosed their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or intersex status. 

Coming Out

Coming out is an ongoing process for LGBTQIA2+ people who will decide which circles and spaces they feel comfortable sharing their identity in.


“Outing” someone is when a group or individual shares the queer identity of another person without their consent, which is a violation of their privacy and can open them up to stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.

Many LGBTQIA2+ people feel unsafe coming out at work, especially in contexts where being LGBTQIA2+ is criminalized or heavily stigmatized. It is every organization’s collective responsibility to explicitly make signals and policy choices that welcome and affirm the LGBTQIA2+ community so they feel more comfortable being open with their whole selves.

Medical & Genetic Background

Often associated with disability and accommodations at work, the medical and genetic background goes beyond disabilities. 


While medical and genetic backgrounds are prohibited grounds for discrimination in Canada and the United States (US), stigma related to conditions impacts people in significant ways. As examples, people who live with HIV/AIDS encounter bias due to their condition, and as many as 65% of people with HIV are unemployed. People who live with mental health conditions are often stereotyped and not considered for advancement as a result. 

Lived Experiences


Age can refer to the specific number of years that have passed since someone was born, what specific developmental phase society categorizes them as (e.g. baby, toddler, child, adolescent, teenager, young adult, adult, middle-age, advanced age, end-of-life, etc.), the generation they were born in (Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z, etc.), and their generation group in their family (e.g. Great-Grandparent, Grandparent, Parent, Child, etc.). Age is also often measured by one’s status relative to the workforce (e.g. full-time student, young professional, mid-career, approaching retirement, retired, etc.). Additionally, a person’s age can be articulated by one’s internal sense of age relative to different cultural ideas about different age groups (e.g. “old soul” or “young at heart”). 

At any given time, there are several generations employed in the workforce. Each generation has its distinct differences. These differences are defined by the period in which people were born and the unique social, political, and economic changes that occurred during their upbringing.


In the workforce, such differences can challenge individuals when collaborating across generations. These challenges are often rooted in biases connected to ageism. Ageism in the workplace is the tendency to have negative feelings about another person based on age. It is usually targeted at young professionals and professionals approaching retirement.

Stereotypes of different generations contribute to this bias. For example, Baby Boomers are sometimes considered workaholics, while Generation Xers are sometimes labelled risk-takers. Millennials have been characterized as caring about meaningful work and greatly impacted by the Great Recession in their careers. Now, Generation Zers are known as a more activist generation and apt to reject antiquated models of professionalism. Such stereotypes can lead organizations and colleagues to believe there are skill gaps and life milestones (like having children or retiring) that may prevent certain age groups from excelling at their organizations. 

While ageism can affect any workforce member, 58% of workers notice age bias when people enter their 50s. Conversely, people under 25 years old are two times less likely to experience age discrimination. Age-related biases and discrimination against people of advanced age are especially pronounced in the tech sector

Family and Upbringing

Family refers to each person’s network of loved ones and kin who fall within their personal definition of family or are considered the equivalent of family. Family bonds can be related to ancestry, genetics, legal institutions (e.g. marriage, adoption, etc.), love, shared history, shared property, and subjective lived experiences. Learn more about some common terms relating to family in Feminuity’s Inclusive Language Guide

Upbringing relates to the unique context in which someone grew up and heavily depended on family. The unique characteristics of one’s early and formative years include class, culture, values, rules, norms, relationships, activities, affection, support, education, privileges, hardships, traumas, and more.  

Family and upbringing can all have a significant impact on someone’s life. They play a role in personal development and can provide support throughout a person’s life journey. While some families are related through blood and legal affinities, others are chosen. Chosen families are more common among the LGBTQIA2+ community, who are more likely to experience family rejection and other groups experiencing marginalization, such as people with disabilities, immigrant communities, teenage mothers, and more

Different families can provide each other with varying emotional and financial support. Someone’s birth or adoptive family is not always a place of unconditional love. Some people have experiences of trauma, abuse, addiction, violence, or neglect connected to their families. Some people do not feel they can be their authentic selves around their birth or adoptive family. Some people grew up mainly in government systems as orphans or in foster families.

Family building occurs in various ways, such as through adoption, the use of assisted reproductive technologies (e.g. In Vitro Fertilization, Artificial Insemination, Surrogacy, etc.), donor reproductive materials (Sperm Donors/Banks, Egg Donors/Banks, etc.), and shared commitments and biographies. 

Teams would do well to ensure they communicate in ways that do not assume family composition and leave space for families outside the dominant nuclear form in North America. This includes LGBTQIA2+ families, single-parent families, divorced families, families with step-parents and step-siblings, families with platonic co-parents, families with deceased loved ones, polyamorous families, plural families, foster families, adoptive families, extended families, international families, relationships/friendships that hold the same significance as family, families outside of strict blood and legal affinities, and chosen families.

A common struggle for many professionals is balancing their commitments to their jobs and their loved ones. Work-life balance is a common discussion and goal for most people in the workforce. It can be compromised by workplace cultures that reward overwork, do not respect boundaries, and do not give people the necessary flexibility to respond to emergent family-related needs. No matter what an individual’s family or caregiving situation is, employers must understand that everyone has obligations outside of work. 

Caregiving Responsibilities 

Caregiving responsibilities refers to how some team members have people (and animals!) who rely on them to support and attend to their needs. Most workplace conversations around caregiving usually revolve around taking care of children, but a person might have many other care obligations. Someone might need to care for their aging parents or loved ones. Someone might be a key support for a loved one with a disability. People may need to care for family and loved ones facing health-related challenges. Many people have pets that they care for and consider part of their family and service animals that need to be tended to so they can continue to help their human move through the world. Many are profoundly committed to their communities and take the initiative to help neighbours and peers through different challenges. 

When organizations ask team members to split themselves into two people—one for work and one for home—it creates a lot of tension. At work, they must remain stoic, efficient, and impersonal. While at home, they are allowed to indulge in being human. Professionalism puts these two dimensions of our lives in opposition and competition, rarely allowing us to have a healthy synergy. 


Ideologies are an individual, group, or culture's conceptions about different aspects of life. Most people have distinct economic, political, and religious perspectives influenced by the people in their family, their upbringing, geographical location, education, and lived experiences. 

Ideologies affect how comfortable people are in sharing their opinions with colleagues. Vastly differing ideologies may make individuals more cautious to start a conversation with a coworker if they know it could lead to a heated debate. Thus, creating a psychologically safe workplace is important so team members can discuss and share their ideologies without fear of harm, reprisals, or punishment.


Morals reflect an individual’s beliefs for acceptable thoughts and behaviours. Morals tend to be formed through upbringing, family, life experiences, cultural background, religion (or lack thereof), political thoughts, and worldly beliefs. 

Most organizations seek individuals with the same morals, values, and ethics to align with the company’s core values. For organizations, shared morals can alter how a company prioritizes its work and its impact on the industry, local community, and the world.

However, some morals can operate in ways that contribute to marginalization. For example, many cultures have a sexual double standard that stigmatizes women for the same sexual agency that is validated or accepted in men. This is also the case with parenthood, when many women get messages that they are not a “good mom” by working, and men rarely face the same levels of scrutiny or criticism. Some forms of morality are othering and degrading to certain communities. This includes labelling people in same-gender relationships or queer families as immoral. It also includes trying to inhibit transgender and non-binary people from living as their authentic selves and accessing gender-affirming medicines because of their personal beliefs. In the case of tone-policing, someone might take the moral position that we should not communicate grievances with anger and dismiss the important message behind the tone.

Organizations must acknowledge that every person has a unique moral compass or guidelines while rejecting forms of morality that impede inclusion and belonging. 

Education and Credentialism 


Credentialism refers to reducing qualifications to official “credentials” conferred to people by institutions. These credentials become important status markers used as requirements in different settings (e.g., job postings) regardless of necessity and in place of someone’s ability to demonstrate or learn a skill. 


Education refers to someone’s experiences with structured learning, usually in a school or university setting. Completed educational experiences often come with evidence of completion or official degrees (e.g. Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate, etc.) or certifications. First Generation refers to four-year university graduates whose parents did not complete a four-year university degree. 

Education varies greatly by location, school, and teacher and can be heavily influenced by national, state, and district laws and requirements. This means that no single individual will have the same education. Not only that, but high-level education can be extremely expensive and unattainable for a significant part of North America and countries that do not have fully socialized education systems. For upper-level jobs (or even entry-level jobs), post-secondary school degrees are often set as a requirement without a compelling reason. 

Unemployment rates by education level reveal stark differences based on the level of education attained. Both the 2021 Canadian census data and the 2020 data Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States (US) found that the correlation between the level of education and the unemployment rate is quite startling. 

Further, the average debt accrued by people obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Canada is $28,000, and $15,300 for a college diploma. Similarly, a four-year college degree in the United States (US) leaves recent grads with an average of $28,400 of debt as of 2020. Not surprisingly, many talented young professionals seek alternative career paths that don’t require such exorbitant costs. 

Organizations can create opportunities to help such professionals bypass college in exchange for applicable experiences. Some organizations no longer require candidates to complete a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree to compete for a role. Instead, organizations are focusing on experiences, as well as hard and soft skills, to qualify candidates. Additionally, removing education requirements allows candidates experiencing marginalization to apply.

Another important thing to consider is that formal education systems often reproduce dominant forms of knowledge. Including team members who do not have formal education can add a diversity of knowledge to your team and company. 


Skill sets are a less obvious type of diversity but are hugely important to the recruitment process. Depending on a candidate’s professional history and learning experiences, they will develop and hone certain skills. However, based on their experiences and background, they’ll also have unique strengths that can benefit business and culture. For example, they may have unique insights about how to make your organization’s product, service, or experience more inclusive. This may help you appeal to more people and increase your market share.

Organizations need to weigh key predictive skills for professional success, such as emotional intelligence, passion for learning, fresh perspectives, and more granular technical skills. In the workplace, we tend to focus on the skills that directly apply to one’s specific role. However, there are various other skills an individual accumulates through their interests and experiences that can make them excellent at their job.

Remember that most skills can be learned and weaknesses can be worked on if someone has the determination and the appropriate support. The foundation of innovation and creativity is diversity, so companies must audit the skills they require to ensure they are not disproportionately disqualifying those experiencing marginalization. 


Income is the money a person receives periodically through traditional work or investments. Passive income refers to money someone gets with little effort, such as stock dividends, interest from bonds, rental income, royalties, automated online sales, and more. Active income refers to money that requires meaningful participation and involvement, such as salaried labour, wage labour, tips, consulting, freelancing, and more. 

Some people have more consistent income than others. Traditional employees usually experience more security with income, while small businesses and members of the gig economy can experience greater precarity due to the volatility of their revenue streams. Income can change throughout someone’s life and differ substantially from the income of their parents or guardians. The more income someone earns, the easier it is for them to meet their physical needs, indulge in wants/desires, access resources, pursue professional development opportunities, accumulate assets, and cultivate passive income streams. People can sometimes attach their self-worth to how much money they make and judge others based on how much money they make. 

Certain roles and industries are often associated with higher incomes. For example, sales and tech positions are generally considered on the higher end of the income spectrum, while frontline service workers are generally on the lower end. Income plays a major role in every person’s life starting from the day they are born, throughout their upbringing, professional career, and into retirement. Geographical location, taxes, family, education, skills, and socioeconomic background can affect income.

Someone’s income is also affected by a range of biases relating to different demographic characteristics, such as age, disability, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. Pay Equity refers to compensating team members the same amount when they perform the same or similar job duties. However, most organizations do not foster pay equity when conducting official analyses. 

Socioeconomic Status

Socioeconomic status (SES) is the measurement and categorization of people based on their education, income, and occupation. It is also a strong indicator of privilege and the opportunities and resources an individual has access to so they can excel at school and work.

Socioeconomic status implicates:

  • Class - How much wealth someone grew up with or has at their disposal. 
  • Status - How much prestige is attached to someone’s job, education, or position in society.
  • Party - How much influence or power someone gets from the different groups, networks, and affiliations they are members of.  

SES is found to contribute significantly to one’s mental health, physical health, stress, performance, and functioning in the workplace and life.

Relationship Status

Often equated to marital status, relationship status involves how two or more people feel about each other, behave toward one another, and want their relationship(s) to function and be recognized in the world. 

Examples of relationship status include single, dating, partnered (personally or legally), married, re-married, in a domestic partnership, divorced, separated, broken up, and/or widowed. People’s relationships can also involve varying levels of commitment, from more casual and ambiguous relationships to robust shared understandings and promises to one another. People can be co-residential with their significant other(s), live apart, co-own large assets, or keep their finances largely unmixed. People’s relationships can be monogamous (having one romantic and/or sexual relationship at any given time) and non-monogamous (having more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship at the same time). 

Plural Families

Polyamory is a form of non-monogamy in which everyone involved is aware of and consents to the arrangements. Polygamy is the practice of being married to multiple people simultaneously, and its legality varies around the world. The majority of polygamous relationships involve multiple wives. Plural families are families where the parents practice some form of polyamory or polygamy. Various forms of non-monogamous, committed relationships are common among different cultures, religious groups, and Indigenous communities

Couple Privilege

Couple Privilege refers to the advantages in society that are conferred to people in established couples or partnerships. Culturally, people can struggle with feelings of failure if they are single or face immense pressure from loved ones to find someone, even if they are perfectly content. Legally, two-person heterosexual partnerships are more generally recognized by governments globally. It usually offers unique benefits and entitlements such as tax advantages, inheritance, children’s custody, decision-making rights if their partner is in a precarious life state, information rights, visitation rights, and more. 

The Nuclear Family

Many people make assumptions and judgements about people’s relationship status based on the idea of the nuclear family, where all families have two married, monogamous parents (a man and a woman) and children. However, we know that many other models of families and relationships exist, such as families with same-gender partners, non-binary partners, and polyamorous partners. It is also essential to recognize how the institution of marriage has contributed to the marginalization and coercion of different groups throughout history. Marriage can also be a significant social pressure for people because of economic needs, social standing, family expectations, immigration, etc. 

Relationship Status Bias

Relationship status bias can prevent highly qualified individuals from getting a job or excelling in their careers. While laws in places like the United States (US) prohibit employers from discriminating against an individual’s gender, sex, and sexuality, only some jurisdictions have specific laws prohibiting relationship status discrimination in the workplace. 

In the workplace, people’s relationship statuses can be especially relevant. Marriage is often a prerequisite for someone’s loved ones to access their benefits. Supervisors sometimes exploit power imbalances between them and the people they report to to manipulate them into sexual activities and silence them afterward. People can sometimes leverage their romantic or sexual relationships to receive unfair advantages in an organization’s recruitment or advancement processes. 

It’s important to acknowledge that relationships are not only places of love, affection, and mutual support but can also be places of physical, sexual, verbal, financial, and psychological violence and abuse. Global and/or regional times of crisis, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the overturn of Roe v. Wade in the United States (US) have been found to exacerbate intimate partner violence.

Pregnancy and Parental Status

People with the ability to get pregnant and give birth face barriers in their careers that aren't present for those who cannot get pregnant. For example, they are far more likely to be asked questions about their parental plans and responsibilities during an interview. Sociologists have termed this the Motherhood Penalty

Pregnancy, motherhood, and being a woman are deeply intertwined terms. However, for people who are transgender or whose gender is beyond the binary, these terms can be deeply unsettling. It is important to recognize that trans people and people who are beyond the gender binary can become pregnant, and they face unique challenges.

Organizations can support working parents by reducing unconscious bias and providing flexible work hours, childcare benefits, parental leave, and adoption assistance. This will aid in retaining team members in the long term.

According to the World Health Organisation, one in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. More governments and workplaces are increasingly offering paid workplace leave in case of a miscarriage

Military Experience

Military experience refers to someone’s affiliation or background related to a country's armed forces. An active-duty military personnel works for the military full time, may live on a military base, and can be deployed by the military. Alternatively, a veteran is someone who previously served in their country’s military. Military members can participate in various capacities across the armed forces, such as in the army, navy, and air force. The Department of Defense in the United States (US) is the largest employer in the world

Organizations can recognize the dignity and courage of military personnel but never equate this appreciation to glorifying toxic forms of nationalism, imperialism, xenophobia, or violence.

Some veterans possess physical injuries related to their service that result in different medical conditions and disabilities. Other veterans can struggle with mental health-related challenges such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and increased risk of self-harm. Some people with military experiences have lost close friends and comrades in service and struggle with the grief associated with these tragedies. Sexual violence is also more common in the military, with nearly one in four women in the United States (US) military reporting these experiences and Canada reporting a number of high-profile instances of sexual misconduct

Military veterans can offer a range of value adds to a team. For example, some military veterans have specific cross-cultural expertise due to being deployed internationally and trained in specific languages. Several resources are available to help organizations better understand how military skills are relevant to a specific role, such as Handshake 2 Hire and CareerOneStop.


Size refers to someone’s height and weight compared to others or the general population. People are usually conditioned to know their height and weight and keep tabs on how these measurements fluctuate.


Sizeism refers to prejudice or discrimination based on a person's size. It largely manifests as stigma and inequity directed toward people of higher weight and persons of short stature. 


Fat refers to people with larger bodies. These people are often not catered to in design processes. For example, many seating and clothing options do not fit people with larger bodies. Some consider the word “fat” derogatory. However, many in the fat community have reclaimed the word to signal pride and power or a matter-of-fact description. Many reject the medicalized terminology of “obese” and “overweight” because medical professionals often use these terms to deny care and further fat people’s marginalization. The fat community uses many terms to represent who they are, such as “small fat” and “super fat,” to name a few. Engaging with individuals in the fat community to determine the most inclusive language possible to foster dignity and respect is important.

Societal perspectives of weight have changed over time and vary across cultures. Generally, fat team members encounter negative cultural stereotypes and biases. Fat people are often considered lazy, less competent, unprofessional, attention-seeking, and unattractive. For example, larger women frequently face criticism that their clothing is “too revealing.” This leads to barriers in hiring, compensation, and promotions. Many people accept the harmful and incorrect assumption that everyone wants to lose weight or to be thin, reinforcing these ideas through casual questions, comments, jokes, and personal sharing.

Little People

Little People are people of short stature who live with some form of Dwarfism (Achondroplasia most commonly) and are usually no taller than five feet. Little People are more likely to face infantilization (e.g. being called “cute,” being offered children’s menus, facing challenges purchasing alcohol, etc.) than other people. Moreover, the world is often designed to privilege normative sizes and pose challenges for Little People (e.g. standard podium size, airbags and gas pedal distance in cars, the height of sinks and cabinets, etc.). 

Size and Gender

Sizeist biases can manifest differently by gender. Society often praises men and transmasculine people who are taller than average and is more accepting when these groups have bulkier builds. In contrast, society usually stigmatizes women and transfeminine people who are taller than average and puts immense pressure on these groups to have smaller builds. Height and weight are common factors discussed in dating, with these unique gender-related manifestations of sizeism structuring many people’s romantic insecurities and interactions. Societal standards around weight and beauty are not only unrealistic but impose expectations that increase the likelihood of disordered eating (e.g. anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, risky diets, etc.). 

“Criminal” Background

Someone’s criminal background refers to the documented legal infractions that someone has been found guilty of over their life course and has faced consequences in a given jurisdiction. Crimes can be violent and non-violent. Crimes can involve activist activities, recreational use of substances, financial crimes (e.g. embezzlement, wage theft, fraud, tax evasion), theft, abuse, assault, and other violations of relevant statutes. Crimes vary in severity to oneself, others, and the common good, from not using a designated crosswalk to intentionally taking someone else’s life. The crimes that someone commits can result in fines, community service, loss of liberties, incarceration/imprisonment, and more. 

Just because someone has no criminal record does not necessarily mean they have never committed a crime. This means law enforcement has not caught or enforced a statute against them when they possibly could have. People commit crimes for a range of reasons, and in many cases, crime is linked to survival in poverty and untreated mental health-related challenges. 

It is important to emphasize that not everything considered legal is good, and not everything considered illegal is bad. As Martin Luther King Jr. notes in a famous quote regarding the segregation of the Black community and the withholding of civil rights in the United States (US), “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

While laws in Canada provide protection from discrimination, employers are allowed to request a “background check” and refuse to hire someone if it is a reasonable and “bona fide” (genuine) reason. Despite this requirement, gaining employment after having experience in the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is challenging, particularly for women and Indigenous Peoples

We must not limit a person’s identity to a specific experience with the PIC, as systemic inequities exist in police enforcement, laws, and wrongful convictions. Instead, we can use an abolitionist lens to support formerly incarcerated people reintroducing themselves into communities. We can recognize the systems of power that are at play. The goal of the criminal justice system is healing, accountability, rehabilitation, and reintegration, not shame, ostracizing, and punishment. 

For those who don’t know, the PIC refers to the combination of public and private sectors and governmental interests that benefit from increased funding to police and prisons. These interests range from politicians who are “tough on crime” to organizations that use cheap prison labour. The prison population is disproportionately composed of Indigenous Peoples, Black people, people of Latine descent, as well as people of limited financial means. In this way, prisons act as a modern way of enslaving people while also using prisons to “solve'' various socio-economic challenges. Prisons are, in many ways, an ineffective way of addressing homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and mental health issues.

Political Beliefs

There are a lot of different opinions on how, when, and if politics should be allowed in the workplace. For some, such discussions are a great way to connect with and engage in stimulating conversations unrelated to work. However, when colleagues have radically different political affiliations and perspectives, controversy can erupt, making the workplace uncomfortable and unbearable.

Bringing politics into the workplace can lead to issues around political affiliation discrimination. And while no national law prohibits employers from discriminating against a candidate or employee based on their political affiliation, a few states do.

Keeping politics out of the workplace sometimes means erasing identities and experiences. For example, sometimes, people will refuse to discuss a co-worker's experience of racism because they want to be “nonpartisan.” However, many advocates have argued that racism is not a political issue and it is not a viable excuse to avoid discussing racism. Indeed, the “isms'' are political and “the personal is political.” Actual DEI work and change will not happen if we erase or ignore people’s oppressive experiences.

All that being said, it can be challenging to eliminate all traces of politics from the workplace. A lot can and is assumed about an individual’s political affiliation based on their resume and interests. But is eliminating all politics the answer? Like every other element of diversity on this list, political diversity is important for providing unique ideas, morals, and beliefs and fostering a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. Creating a psychologically safer workplace can help foster spaces for discussion of political beliefs that do not lead to harm, discrimination, punishment, or retribution.

Religious, Faith, and Spiritual Beliefs


Religion is usually defined as a social-cultural system of designated behaviours and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations that relate humanity to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements. Most people’s religious affiliations (or lack thereof) usually come from their family upbringing and cultural background. However, people can convert to different religions over their life course and often do so in cases of marriage. People may also identify with multiple religions or none at all.

There is a range of orientations toward the Divine and official religions, such as Agnostic, Atheist, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jainist, Jehovah’s Witness, Jewish, Muslim, North American Indigenous spirituality, Pagan, Rastafarian, Sikh, Spiritual, Unitarian, and more.

Some people observe commonalities and parallels between official world religions and “secular religions,” which may include sports affiliations, intense nationalism, consumerism/materialism, hedonism/pleasure-seeking, science, astrology, and more. These also come with a specific belief system, rituals, symbols, and places of significance. 

Religions can be organized through specific institutions and places of worship such as churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, derasars, sanctuaries, shrines, and more. For others, religion is a more personal experience and relationship with the Divine, which does not require any specific forms of organization or designated religious texts. 

Religious Observances, Celebrations, and Practices

Most religions come with observances, celebrations, and practices for their adherents. These could come in the form of specific Holy days such as Losar (Tibetan Buddhism), First day of Riḍván (Baháʼí), Christmas (Christianity), Chanukah (Judaism), Eid Al Fitr (Islam), Diwali (Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, some forms of Buddhism), Yule (Paganism), and more. Many religions have specific directives around fasting during different times, such as Ramadan (Islam), Lent (Catholicism), Yom Kippur (Judaism), Nineteen Day Fast (Baháʼí), the first Sunday of the month (Mormonism), and more. 

Religious backgrounds are also connected to people’s dietary needs. Members of the Hindu community are usually lacto-vegetarian (avoiding meat and eggs), Jewish people might abide by a kosher diet, Muslim people might go by a halal diet, Catholic people generally do not eat meat on Fridays during Lent, many Sikh people do not consume alcohol, and some are vegetarian. There are many other diets across different religions. 

Prayer is common among most religions. Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. Prayer can be an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or deities. People can also pray as a form of praise or thanks. Different religions will have specific guidance around how, when, and where to pray, such as going to Church on Sundays (Catholicism), the salat (Islam), and Yoga (Hindu). 

Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism

Theism refers to believing in God(s) or Higher Being(s). Agnosticism refers to a belief that one can never know with any certainty if the Divine truly exists or someone who is still discerning or does not have an absolute view related to the Divine. Atheism refers to the lack of belief in God(s) or Higher Being(s). People can identify as theists, agnostics, or atheists; these labels can change over someone’s life. 


Spirituality refers to subjective experiences of “the sacred” and the importance of the human soul and spirit above physical realities. Someone’s spirituality can be related to Higher Being(s), nature, the universe, human relationships, the personal quest for meaning in life, experiences of profound joy and contentment, one’s innermost truths, and more. 


Faith can refer to someone’s belief in God(s) and specific religious doctrines and teachings. More generally, faith relates to believing in something that cannot be proved through empirical evidence or observed realities. 

Religion and Work

Whether or not people discuss their religious affiliations at work, it’s crucial to create a workplace that is understanding and accepting of everyone’s beliefs - even if they are different from one another and so long as they do not harm or marginalize other teammates (e.g. misgendering a transgender teammate, invalidating a same-gender couple, bias toward women, etc.). 

Workplaces can offer floating holidays so people can take time off for religious holidays and celebrations when needed. It’s also important to respect individuals who wear religious clothing at work and ensure their cohorts treat them fairly. Consider creating a private religious and spiritual space depending on your office and building layout. Consider moving away from specific professional dress standards rooted explicitly in biased and exclusionary ideals

Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Sentiment 

Although there are nearly two billion Muslim people worldwide and Islam is the second-most practiced religion in the world, anti-Muslim sentiment and experiences of Islamophobia are prominent globally, including in the workplace.

The term “anti-Muslim sentiment” refers to prejudice, bias, or negative attitudes held against individuals or communities based on their identification as Muslims. The term Islamophobia is defined as “an extreme fear of and hostility toward Islam and Muslim people, which often leads to hate speech, hate crimes, and social and political discrimination.” Due to ingrained associations between Muslim identity, Arab cultures, and the Middle East, there are often dimensions of xenophobia and racism within expressions of Islamophobia.

We opt to use both the terms Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment because using only using “phobia” (irrational fear) may not capture the systemic nature of the bias and marginalization experienced by Muslim people.

Employing the two terms together may also better affirm the distinct challenges that Muslim people experience due to hostility toward Islam as a religion and also due to Muslim people being part of unique ethno-religious or cultural groups within countries in Europe and North America. 

Check out Feminuity’s resource, Addressing Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Sentiment at Work to learn more. 

Antisemitism, Judaism, and the Jewish Community

As of 2023, the world's Jewish population was estimated at 15.7 million, 0.2% of the 8 billion world population. However, antisemitism still shows up at work and is on the rise globally. 

Broadly, antisemitism is understood as the hatred of and hostility toward the Jewish peoples. The United Nations and multiple governments, including the Canadian government, have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism:

“A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

It’s important to understand that Jewish peoples are not just strictly followers of Judaism and Jewish identity goes beyond faith, spirituality, and organized religion. Many members of the Jewish community understand their identity through the lens of ethnicity and identify as Cultural Jews, but are still exposed to antisemitic biases and marginalization. 

Check out Feminuity’s resource, Addressing DEI's Missing 'ism': Practical Support for Jewish Team Members to learn more. 


Union Affiliation

Union affiliation is a form of organizational and functional diversity in the workplace and can be a hot topic. Team members of an organization may either choose to or may be required to join a local union based on the rules of a collective bargaining agreement between the organization and the union. This is dependent on the law of a given jurisdiction. Some countries do not have legal minimum wages but have union memberships, such as Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark.

Labour union membership is intended to protect employees from rights violations in their workplace, such as discrimination, overtime without pay, retaliation, privacy, and whistleblower rights. However, some people may oppose joining a labour union for various reasons. Regardless of union status, all team members are still responsible for fulfilling their job requirements. 

Organizations may want steer away from or reconsider impeding the formation of unions or engaging in any illegal activities to the detriment of unions. 

Work Experiences

There’s no doubt that every single workplace is different. Every company has its unique mission, core values, policies, culture, and benefits, varying by region, industry, size, and organization. Each time someone moves into a new role, industry, or company, they bring their previous work experiences and skills. 

For organizations, it’s often beneficial to attract talent with diverse work experiences, even hiring out-of-market candidates. Such experiences can help your team better understand different aspects of the industry or connect with new customer markets. So, don’t count candidates out just because they have different workplace experiences.


Workplaces change over time. However, many people will remain with a company for decades and gain seniority as their role develops. Different levels of seniority at a company may lead to varying opinions or values about how the company operates and may also be influenced by factors like age and personal beliefs. Some newer team members may feel inferior to more senior people or may be asked to report to senior team members. However, all people are guaranteed the same rights and are expected to complete the duties within their job description.

Management Status

Like seniority, management status is a form of organizational diversity in nearly every workplace. Most team members have somebody to report to, have a say in how their day-to-day time is spent, and have a set of expectations to adhere to. Organizational hierarchy ensures that an organization can function appropriately and scale over time. There may be varying management styles, but all people are guaranteed the same rights while performing their duties.

Groups in leadership usually hold the most power, privilege, social capital, and workplace status in a given setting. It is important to recognize that if you occupy a leadership position, you likely have greater influence, authority, and discretion regarding self–expression, decision-making, resource allocation, workflows, and advancement. An organization’s senior leadership team is often one of the least diverse levels of a company. Organizations may want to take intentional actions to promote diversity in the highest echelons of their workplace. 

Senior leaders can sometimes abuse their seniority and engage in various forms of harassment (e.g. sexual, verbal, psychological, etc.) of their employees. It is leading practice to establish safeguards for procedural justice if a report is made about a leader’s inappropriate or discriminatory conduct.

Workplace leaders are key determinants of the tone of a workplace’s culture and whether DEI programs will succeed. Organizations would benefit from ensuring that all team members, from managers and above, have gone through foundational education around DEI and inclusive leadership. 

Job Function/Department

Regardless of management status or seniority, job function and departmental placement are forms of organizational diversity that affect how people perform. Different job placements impose different expectations on people, meaning that experiences between team members of the same workplace and the backgrounds that have brought them into the same workplace will vary greatly.

Some job functions are generally compensated better than others. Some departments are more likely to need help with specific representation issues. For example, Sales and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) typically overrepresent men. Human Resources (HR) and administrative roles typically overrepresent women and transfeminine people.  


There are so many pieces of our identities that make us who we are and how we experience the world. Understanding the varying dimensions of diversity helps organizations consider people in all their dimensions, unpack their unique needs, and develop more nuanced and empathetic strategies. 

Important Note

This resource is not meant to be a static guide, but rather a compilation and reflection of our learnings to date. Everything changes - from technologies and innovations to social norms, cultures, languages, and more. We’ll continue to update this resource with your feedback; email us at with suggestions.  

About the Author

This resource was written collaboratively by members of the Feminuity team.

Give Credit Where Credit’s Due

If you wish to reference this work, please use the following citation: Feminuity. "Exploring 40+ Dimensions of Diversity and Intersectionality at Work"

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