Defining diversity, equity, inclusion and intersectionality at Regenesys Corporate Education in South Africa

More often than not, in business, or business schools, today the terms “Diversity”, “Equity” “Inclusion” and “Intersectionality” are bandied about. But what do they really mean, and how are they, or can they be, deployed for deeper value to companies, their employees and students? This article aims for more expansive and inclusive ideas behind the concepts.

Diversity, equity, inclusion  and intersectionality are interrelated concepts that mean different things in various contexts, epochs and places. Regenesys Corporate Education holds these concepts as core values that are quintessential to the ethos of the company as well as to its curated corporate learning solutions for clients but also in tandem with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which, in its Bill of Rights (Chapter 2) “[…] enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom”. This article critically examines the South African context in which the concepts diversity, equity and inclusion and intersectionality find meaning, defines what these concepts mean to us, and outlines how they define our ethos.

 South Africa: a divided nation 

Renowned South African writer and scholar Jonny Steinberg articulates in an article published by Business Day  that “the freedom South Africans acquired in 1994 was mercurial and slippery. Politically, the changes were dramatic. The electorate expanded overnight to include every adult. But the structure of society stayed much the same.” Steinberg’s observation reminds us of the reason for why it is necessary to discuss and implement transformation policies which carry terms such as diversity, equity, inclusion, and intersectionality: we need to change the inherited structure of the past in which many are excluded.  

Although substantial efforts have been made in the country regarding the social and political project of “transformation”, persistent inequality remains a problem. Moreover, unemployment, particularly among the youth, is growing. According to Stats SA, 43.4% of people between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed. This is a serious cause for concern given that this age range makes up more than half of the country’s employable workforce. In order to “transform” a society or an institution, it is necessary to deploy diversity (whereby a range of voices are heard at the table from black to poor, to women, to climate change activists, to LBGTQI+, civil society groupings, and community based organisations members), inclusion (making their voices heard), and equity (everyone gets a slice of the pie).  These concepts which are part of a loud, robust and noisy democracy are central to how we integrate different levels of emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, and other interpersonal intelligences into our work.

Diversity, intersectionality, equity and inclusion: what we mean

 For Regenesys Corporate Education, diversity means not only having a diverse staff on board along race and gender lines, but also includes diversity of leadership styles, political leanings, ethnic, religious and cultural differences in carefully curated corporate learning solutions. This then would involve incorporating the concept and practice of intersectionality in learning materials. Intersectionality, in the broadest sense, is a concept which recognises the multiplicity of selves of people’s race, class, gender, sexual orientation and able-bodied/disabled status among other gazes.

The concept of equity is often misconstrued with equality. To deploy the concept of equality is to allocate the same resources or opportunities to individuals or groups of people. Equity on the other hand recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.  Regenesys Corporate Education believes in recognising individuals intersectional experiences in its commitment to equity. Inclusion refers not only to the inclusion of liberal voices in learning materials but also to the inclusion of a diverse range of people across race, gender, sexual orientation and differently-abled individuals in decision-making processes.  The intersections of views and gazes from multiplicity engenders richness in the work and learning environment which is enriching rather than homogeneous.

Watch this space for more insights into how all these concepts: diversity, equity, inclusion and intersectionality are incorporated and plays out different tunes in our learning materials.

Written by Alexandra Willis

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