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Diversity and Inclusion

What are microaggressions?

The way our bias leaks out is through everyday microaggressions: seemingly minor slights, exclusions, messages, looks, jokes or quips to someone from a marginalized group that highlights their difference.

They’re so common that you may not even realize you’re guilty of them. But these small acts of prejudice can have an outsized impact on others.

Note that there are many terms for this concept, including micromessages and micro-inequity.

We prefer to use the term microaggressions as we feel it captures the spirit of these slights: generally committed by a well-meaning person unaware their message is gauche, inappropriate and harmful.

🌏 Some real-world examples:

“I’d never heard of twerking until Miley Cyrus popularised it, but apparently being a black woman meant it was okay for my colleagues to ask me for a demonstration in the staff room.”

“One of the most insidious comments I get when white colleagues learn I’m a Muslim is “Yeah, but you’re one of the good ones, mate!” which is a punch to the gut disguised as a ‘compliment’, mate.”

“I have a visible disability and I know every person that simpers ‘Wow, I could never deal with that’ also believes my disability means inability and will condescend me no matter how many times I prove myself.”

Here are some humorous examples of what microaggressions could look like towards your white co-workers:

What are microaggressions?

Have you ever seen or felt the large-scale damaging effects of small-scale microaggression? Have anything else to add? We’re always keen to hear your feedback! Drop your comments, suggestions, or whatever else you’d like to talk about here.

We’d love to hear from you!

Fiona Young (she/her)

Having previously led Learning and Development for 3,000 people at Europe’s leading venture builder, Blenheim Chalcot, Fiona knows a thing or two about how to build high performance culture. As Content Director at Hive Learning, Fiona pioneered the organisation's leading guided content programmes which are designed to turn learning into action. Most recently, Fiona led the inception, development and delivery of Inclusion Works by Hive Learning - the world’s first diversity and inclusion programme focused on turning unconscious bias into conscious action - created from over 1,000 leading sources.