Introduction

As human beings, we exist in a multitude of spaces and identities. We experience ourselves as people situated in a culture, we understand ourselves through a sense of gender and sexuality, we move within the physical and social worlds with varying degrees of ease.

As people working in progressive organisations, we see the intersection of systems of oppression as an additional burden upon those they affect and acknowledge that this intersection can reproduce violence.

We acknowledge that the complexity of the intersection of discrimination and oppression can introduce additional challenges that are not accounted for by any of the axes of oppression or discrimination on their own.

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Country and their enduring sovereignty of land, sea, sky, and community. We note that this charter is being created on colonised land and that sovereignty was never ceded. We honour the Elders past, present and emerging and bear witness to their diversity, strength, and resilience.

Aims of this charter

We note that the vast bulk of the emotional labour of contextualising and code-switching falls onto the shoulders of people inhabiting multiple spaces and call for progressive organisations and individuals to commit to the following intersectional charter in an effort to ease this burden.

In particular, this charter aims to aid organisations to become an ally along the axes of oppression the organisation does not inhabit.

At a minimum, we expect organisations to establish a code of conduct for their members that acknowledges the twin concepts of intersecting oppressions and of intersecting privileges.

We acknowledge that intersectionality is complex, that meeting the standards outlined in this charter in full is a high bar, and that cultural and organisational change is a gradual process.

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Intersecting oppression, intersecting privilege and resistance

Circle showing different axes of privilege and disadvantage and how they intersect
In our society, there are a variety of attributes a person can have. Most of these attributes exist as a spectrum, although they are frequently treated as though they are a binary. In general, society is set up for people with attributes at one end of the spectrum — that is, the default is for people with those attributes. As a result, even though they might not be aware of it, they are treated as valued and experience ‘privilege’ while people with attributes at the other end experience disadvantage or oppression. Obviously, someone can be simultaneously at the privileged end of the spectrum for one attribute and at the oppressed end of the spectrum for another, and this intersection informs the lived experience of all of us.

Although this would seem to concern individuals, the oppressions and privileges that individuals experience is structural and systemic — that is, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and so on are built into laws, education systems, pay scales, access to events and more. That means that any change to address oppression requires structural and systemic resistance, not individual change.

In affirming this charter and attempting to shift the structures we as progressive organisations have control over, we acknowledge our educational privilege and the academic framework that informs our work. We also acknowledge that many of the people our organisations represent or consist of may be living in violence or actively fighting for their lives, and that this work to resist structural and systemic oppression can be overwhelming and therefore needs to be available in smaller, achievable chunks.

Governance

We commit to ensuring that the nature of our organisation and its governance does not structurally exclude anyone from participating; and we aim for parity at all levels of our organisation.

We acknowledge that the size of an organisation may make this more difficult, in that parity is more difficult in smaller organisations, and that the nature of the organisation — a B-Corp, an NGO, an Association or a corporation — will also alter some aspects of this component of the charter.

Level 1: Avoiding discrimination
We commit to:

  • acknowledge that our organisation is formed on colonised land in our founding documents and at the beginning of all executive and Board meetings
  • gender equity on our executive and our Board
  • workplace democracy that includes people of the affected group in developing responses designed to address issues relating to that group — “Nothing about us without us”
  • action-oriented and action-grounded value statements
Level 2: Pro-active intersectionality
We commit to:

  • cultural diversity on our executive and our Board, with diversity at parity to the population in organisations larger than 100 staff
  • leadership opportunities for people of colour, disabled people, LGBTIQ people, first nations people, and mentally ill people
  • role-sharing and mentorship as a standard part of our organisational culture
  • actively advance people who have been traditionally disempowered
  • progressive speaking lists at our board and executive meetings
  • organisational democracy as per http://www.aierights.com.au/resources/charter/ (but noting that democracy is also problematic)
  • parenting-supportive governance

Organisations serving a particular community also commit to:

  • ensuring that a majority of our executive and Board come from that community

Member relations

The boards and committees of not-for-profits and progressive organisations have legal obligations to their members, but we also have moral and ethical obligations to act according to our values in our dealing with our members, donors and volunteers.
Level 1: Avoiding discrimination
We commit to:

  • Ground our communications in empathy and generous assumptions
  • Cater for different ways of speaking, learning and understanding during member induction
  • Provide a variety of volunteer opportunities for different capacities/needs (eg: not all public-facing)
  • Value member input equally and not automatically privilege people with certain organisational status (eg: staff, clergy, MPs)
  • Have a clear harassment and bullying policy that applies to members of our Board or executive, staff and members equally
  • Have clear grievance procedures both between members and our organisation and between members
  • Provide a safe space for member participation
  • Inclusive questions on forms (eg: with regards to gender and relationship status)
Level 2: Pro-active intersectionality
We commit to:

  • Actively recognise and support different levels of member and volunteer capacity, including via
    • Role-sharing, and
    • Check-in and handover systems that are clear
  • Value lived experience and acknowledge knowledge gaps
  • Support partnerships to build specialist knowledge
  • Employing a designated volunteer coordinator with cultural and disability awareness training
  • Compassionate boundary messaging — ie: support to keep other members safe and setting compassionate boundaries with people who experience discrimination and may have behaviours of concern
  • Be there for each individual at that moment
  • signal that diversity is welcome in all of our membership communications
  • Ask what members’ access requirements are and budget for them in advance

Employment and conditions

We note that when people are employed, they spend the vast majority of their time in the workplace. All workers and employers have the right to be accorded dignity at work and to experience the dignity of work and we acknowledge that intersectional oppression interferes with that dignity.
Level 1: Avoiding discrimination
We commit to:

  • Acknowledgement of intersecting oppression and the concept of privilege
  • Blind hiring
  • Equal pay regardless of gender, sexuality, ability or ethnicity
  • No pay disclosure gags
  • No unnecessary collection of medical information
  • Develop a Code of Conduct that includes harassment, bullying, exclusion and remedies available
  • Track incidents of harassment and report regularly to staff members
  • Anonymous reporting mechanisms
  • Cultural awareness training for all workers and management
  • Sensitivity training for HR staff
  • Organisation-wide cross-cultural training and awareness to support first nations staff and volunteers prior to employment of such staff
  • Adequate and equal parental leave regardless of a person’s gender, sexuality, ability or ethnicity or the  gender, sexuality, ability or ethnicity of that person’s partner
  • Negotiable leave for holy days such that no worker is disadvantaged or required to use annual leave, carer’s leave or sick leave in order to meet their faith obligations
  • Flexible work hours in consultation with the worker
  • A flexible dress code that acknowledges cultural requirements and does not set different expectations for workers due to gender or perceived gender
  • Respect the pronouns of all staff
  • Respect the name chosen by a worker and not require disclosure of any worker’s legal name
Level 2: Pro-active intersectionality
  • Affirmative action in our hiring processes so that we actively hire first nations people, people identifying as female, people of diverse sexuality and diverse ethnicity
  • Appoint a trusted dedicated HR diversity officer and provide dedicated HR for multicultural issues
  • Improve our training as follows:
    • Respectful relationships training across the organisation
    • Step-back training aimed at those with privilege
    • Lean-in training for those without privilege
    • Training re different presentation of LGBTIQ people in different cultures
  • Actively promote intersectional people and first nations people into positions of leadership
  • Provide workplace leave as follows
    • Sorry Business leave as required
    • Domestic violence leave as required
    • 6 months paid parental leave
    • Adoption/surrogacy leave
    • Partner and carer leave
    • Gender transition leave
  • be aware of the impact of different legal systems and cultural attitudes on staff capacity to live and work, especially where we require international travel or operate offices in multiple countries
  • parenting policies that include Poly and non-monogamous families
  • Destigmatise people labelled ‘criminalised’

Marketing and publicity

When we do not see ourselves reflected in the world around us, or see ourselves reflected only in stereotype, the scope of our potential is narrowed. Each time we apply for a role or step up on a stage, we are being compared to the default images presented to the world via media. As progressive organisations, we share a responsibility to change the images we present to the world and therefore expand the possibilities perceived for everyone.
Level 1: Avoiding discrimination
We commit to:

  • Follow recommended gender and sexuality disclosure guidelines in our market research and reconsider whether we need the information at all
  • Moderate online communities to provide safe, inclusive and accessible spaces
  • Build in accessibility from the beginning in our printed and online information (eg: plain English, imagery, easy English, other languages, screen readability)
  • Follow accessible digital content guidelines (WCAG 2.0) when we develop digital tools and web sites
  • Add closed captioning to all video materials
  • Include people with disabilities, diverse families, diverse genders and diverse backgrounds in our publicity materials
Level 2: Pro-active intersectionality
We commit to:

  • Include First Nations people in marketing materials
  • Represent intersectional people (eg: have the same-sex couple also include a person of a different ethnicity or ability; have the person with a disability also be a person of colour)
  • Include people using different ways of speaking (including sign) and different accents in televisual materials
  • Provide materials in a variety of languages and offer translation
  • Providing an open box for gender or sexuality description in forms
  • Source all merchandise ethically
  • Reimburse people for participation and representation and work
  • Acknowledge structures of oppression in communications, including in imagery
  • Add audio description to all video materials
  • Provide transcripts of all audio materials

Events

Our events are often the first place that people encounter our organisation. We want their experience to be one we can be proud of and that meets our values. We welcome the participation of all, regardless of sexuality, gender, ability or ethnicity and we endeavour to remove the structural barriers that inhibit their full engagement.
Level 1: Avoiding Discrimination
We commit to:

  • Acknowledge country and traditional owners at the start of every meeting/event and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded
  • Ensuring that all venues are accessible
  • Avoid dates for events that mean minority groups cannot attend
  • Provide a range of ticket options for paid events, including a reasonably priced or free tier for some groups
  • Offer methods to disclose accessibility needs during the registration process
  • State the accessibility provisions of events/locations during event promotion
  • Provide interpretation at events — both sign and particular community languages where appropriate

Catering

We commit to:

  • Take dietary requirements seriously
  • Consider whether alcohol is appropriate
  • Provide halal/kosher food by default

Social functions

We commit to:

  • Ensuring that social events are not described in a gendered way that might exclude gender-diverse and same-sex partners

Meetings

We commit to:

  • Providing a safe meeting space
  • Ensuring that all attendees can participate equally

Conferences and conventions

We commit to:

  • Including organisers trained in intersectional issues in the planning process
  • Ensuring that any panel about a group of people includes representatives of that group of people
  • Have a code of conduct for all attendees, and a process for dealing with breaches of the code
  • Consider sensory sensitivity, in the following ways:
    • Limit use of fragrance
    • Consider volume required
    • Provide quiet, low-light spaces
  • Training and presentations provided by people with lived experience of intersectionality

Outdoor events/rallies/protests

We commit to:

  • Plan ahead for accessible routes
  • Develop a safety plan that recognises the particular needs of disabled participants
Level 2: Pro-active intersectionality

We commit to:

  • Provide closed hearing loop services
  • Provide creche/child care at all of our meetings/events
  • Ensure child-care providers have working-with-children checks
  • Preference venues that adhere to the charter
  • Preference venues accessible via public transport
  • Present information in different formats (visual/written/spoken)

Catering

We commit to:

  • Prioritise social enterprise caterers (eg: ASRC)
  • Provide vegan food by default
  • Provide gluten-free food by default

Meetings

We commit to:

  • Progressive speaking lists
  • Provide opportunities for attendees to participate via video link or phone hook-up
  • Provide opportunities for attendees to participate via chat or text-to-speech interfaces

Conferences and conventions

We commit to:

  • Scheduling intersectional people on panels to talk about topics other than their intersectionality
  • Selecting intersectional and first nations people to represent our organisation at conferences
  • Hiring people with disabilities as organisers/planners
  • Check that partner organisations include adults with disability
  • Ensure that any panel talking about an oppressed group has a majority of speakers from that group (eg: a panel with a majority of first nations people on a panel discussing first nations topics)
  • Paid speakers fees
  • Broadcast sessions for remote and housebound attendees
  • Provide notes and presentation packs for those unable to attend

Outdoor events/rallies/protests

We commit to:

  • Providing safe and quiet spaces or sections of a march
  • Providing support staff specifically to respond to intersectional issues that might arise
  • Providing first aid services with intersectional awareness and training

Buildings and amenity

When our organisations are large enough to own buildings or offices or have the power to influence the way a space is organised, we have an additional responsibility as progressive organisations to remove structural barriers to access. Given the opportunity, we can also provide community spaces that create connections and enhance the experience of everyone who passes through.
Level 1: Avoiding discrimination
We commit to:

  • Provide toilets for everyone including:
    • walking/ambulant/accessible toilets
    • unisex/all gender toilets
    • single gender toilets in addition to the above if there is sufficient room
  • Provide accessible lifts
  • Designate a person who knows about the accessibility of the building
  • Provide information about accessibility of the building on the website
    • Also list ways in which the building is not accessible
  • Provide signs in braille with spoken options, easy English and multiple languages
  • Ensure that all video displays include captions and audio description
  • Ensure that emergency plans account for all abilities
Level 2: Pro-active intersectionality
We commit to:

  • Go beyond ramps; we will think about taps, bench levels, door weight, swipe/access codes at accessible height
  • Provide needle and syringe safe disposal
  • Provide:
    • A multi-denominational prayer room
    • Quiet spaces for neurodiverse people
    • Breast-feeding spaces for all genders with fridge and comfy chairs
    • Baby change space (not in the women’s toilets!)
    • A sick bay
    • Rest areas with comfortable chairs or benches in any long corridor or large open space
  • Ongoing and paid consultations with different minority groups that access our building

Sign up to the charter

Small or large, we welcome all organisations to commit to the charter by joining the Intertwine network.

Support our work

Intertwine is just starting out; we plan to audit organisations that sign up to the charter and create a searchable database of signatories.