Antiracism in the workplace

Understanding Racial Microaggression and ways to address them

Happy New Year to you and welcome to 2024!!!

Microaggressions is a topic often discussed but sometimes misunderstood. I wanted to write this post as a way to ease people into it, especially when it comes to race. So here goes…

Instances of racism and other forms of discrimination are not always as obvious as they once were. People may communicate racist thoughts in more subtle, or even subconscious ways, that specialist on the subject now call racial microaggressions.

What are Racial Microaggressions

Racial microaggressions are actions that communicate hostile, disrespectful, or negative racial insults towards targeted groups. These actions may be intentional or unintentional, and people may communicate them in subtle ways. Some examples of racial microaggressions include:

  • Assuming people of colour are ‘dangerous’ or ‘deviant’
  • Treating people of colour as tokens or objects
  • Assuming people of colour are less intelligent or capable than white people
  • Criticising cultural values of people of colour, such as communication, behaviour, and dress styles

Racial microaggressions are not only verbal actions. Environmental and behavioural actions may also communicate racist ideas towards targeted populations. These behaviours are sometimes unintentional but may still be harmful to others. For example, African countries contribute very little to the negative environmental impact globally yet is one of the continents that experiences the most harm.

These microaggressions can have detrimental effects on the psychological and physical health of people of colour. For instance a review of 138 studies published between 2007 and 2020 demonstrates sufficient evidence of racial microaggressions in numerous settings. Collecting data from both interviews and surveys, researchers at Stanford University, in the US, found that racial microaggressions have damaging effects on the psychological and physical health of people of colour.

So, it’s important to recognise and address microaggressions. Remember, microaggressions are defined as verbal, behavioural, and environmental indignities that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group. For Black people, in particular, they are ever-present across daily work and life.

Ways to respond to microaggressions

To respond to racial microaggressions skilfully, it is important to understand what they are, how they affect people, and how to respond to them. Here are some helpful tips for responding to microaggressions:

  • Acknowledge the microaggression
  • Educate the person who made the microaggression if you feel confident enough to do so
  • Seek support from allies
  • Take care of yourself

And the most important thing when it comes to challenging others about microaggressions, is to communicate it in a calm way. If the other person is upset or angry, stop the conversation. Also, if you find your own heat rising, definitely stop the conversation. Broach the conversation when you are both calm. This type of thing takes practice!

In conclusion, recognising and addressing microaggressions is an important step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society. By learning about microaggressions and how to respond to them, we can all contribute to a more respectful and compassionate world.

Here are a some articles to read on this subject:

  • Recognizing and Addressing Microaggressions – Stanford University https://sustainability.stanford.edu/sites/sustainability/files/media/file/recognizing-and-addressing-microaggressions.pdf.
  • When and How to Respond to Microaggressions – Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/07/when-and-how-to-respond-to-microaggressions.
  • Recognising and Counteracting Racial Microaggressions. https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/learningexchange/wp-content/uploads/sites/1606/2020/08/microaggressionsFINAL.pdf.
  • Understanding Racial Microaggression and Its Effect on Mental Health – Pfizer. https://www.pfizer.com/news/articles/understanding_racial_microaggression_and_its_effect_on_mental_health.

You are also welcome to hop over to the Keep It Simple Training Company YouTube Channel for videos on antiracism and snippets of content from the Antiracism Made Simple course here

Antiracism in the workplace

Five benefits to racial inclusivity in the workplace

It has been a good while since I’ve written a blog, and now feel like the right time to get back on it.

For those you who follow, you’ll know that we now have an online course called ‘Antiracism Made Simple’. These blog posts are tiny extracts of the course, and we want to share them with you. This blog post is about racially inclusive workplace and ways to create them. Enjoy!

5 Benefits to having a racial inclusive workplace

A racially inclusive work environments are ones that value and respect the diversity of its employees, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or cultural background. Such environments foster a sense of belonging and encourages employees to bring their authentic selves to work.

Here are 5 benefits of having a racially inclusive work environment:

  1. Increased creativity and innovation: A diverse workforce brings together people with different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. Diversity of thought can lead to more creative and innovative ideas, which can help organisations stay competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment.
  2. Improved employee engagement and retention: When employees feel valued and respected, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. This can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and lower turnover rates. Which is what we want, right!
  3. Better decision-making: Diverse teams can bring a wider range of perspectives to the table, which can lead to better decision-making. When people from different backgrounds come together to solve problems, they are more likely to consider a wider range of options and come up with more effective solutions.
  4. Increased customer satisfaction: A racially inclusive workplace environment can help organisations better understand and serve their diverse customer base. When employees come from different backgrounds, they can bring unique insights into the needs and preferences of different customer groups.
  5. Positive impact on society: By promoting racial inclusivity in the workplace, organisations can help create a fairer and equitable society. This can have a positive impact on the broader community and help build a more harmonious and peaceful world.

Here are a couple of reading materials on the subject:

  • “The Benefits of Racially Inclusive Workplaces.” Catalyst, 2021. 1
  • Hollins, Caprice, and Ilsa Govan. “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Strategies for Facilitating Conversations on Race.” Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019

You are also welcome to hop over to the Keep It Simple Training Company YouTube Channel for videos on antiracism and snippets of content from the Antiracism Made Simple course. Our online course information is here.