Microaggressions in the workplace are minor behaviors that impact members of marginalized groups, but they can mount up over time to produce even more problems. If you’re having trouble identifying the source of your stress, whether it’s behavioral, environmental, or verbal, it could be a series of workplace microaggressions. Microaggressions in the workplace might take the form of acts of discrimination, prejudicial behavior, abuse, or harassment. Because the hostility is not always plain and obvious, or even malicious, it can be difficult to recognize and resolve.
How Microaggressions Compromise D&I Efforts
Organizations want to hire a diverse workforce and build a positive workplace where every person feels welcome to continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Despite the fact that most organizations have established bullying and harassment policies and provide training to address discrimination, some subtle and implicit types of discrimination might nevertheless go unrecognized. Employers must be aware of and confront microaggressions in order to create a truly inclusive workplace culture.
Some examples of microaggressions could be telling a person from South India that they are articulate or speak Hindi very well, and so on, assuming an employee is not from a particular state, mistaking one employee for another from an underrepresented group, using words like ‘bipolar’, ‘crazy’, and ‘psycho’ to describe coworkers, using the term “gay” to describe an unconventional heterosexual characteristic, or adopting and projecting stereotypes onto coworkers because they belong to a particular group.
It’s essential for employees to speak up when they’ve experienced microaggression or when other coworkers have done things that they consider offensive. Microaggressions can happen while the offending party isn’t even aware of the offense. Employees should be educated and informed on these topics, and also how to stand up for themselves in these instances.
How Can HR Professionals Address Microaggressions in the Workplace?
Employees are sometimes scared to speak up about microaggressions because they are apprehensive of consequences or that they will not be taken seriously by the offending party or management. Organizations must re-evaluate procedures and regulations on a regular basis to make sure that macro-level microaggressions do not have a negative impact on the organization on a systemic level.
1. Sensitization by HR professionals
Racism, social standards, gender biases, and other micro-aggressive behaviors must all be discussed with employees. People are usually not intentionally racist or intolerant. Microaggressions are the result of a lack of knowledge. It is vital to educate everyone about the negative effects of microaggression and the mental distress it produces. It may be uncomfortable and overwhelming, but it is an important component of the organizational awareness you want to create.
2. Must Be Ready To Answer Queries
Before initiating an awareness campaign, it’s critical to look into how workplace microaggressions might impact culture. Every type of microaggression will elicit questions and queries. You’ll need a strong understanding and awareness of how these repercussions can impact people to respond to all such questions.
3. Internal Grievance Board
You could create an internal complaint board focused on problems like microaggression to address the issue on a broader scale. An executive, reporting managers, team leaders, and employee representatives could make up the board. Members of the board could then develop specific guidelines for all of the employees of the organization.
Microaggressions, even though implicit in nature, can have detrimental overt effects on the work culture and overall morale. The need of the hour is to take gravity moon steps to curb micro-aggressive tendencies and the hostile work environment it creates. Human Resources, as we discussed above, can go to lengths to tackle this. However, it all starts with dismantling the stereotypical conditioning of a workforce and the biases attached to it.