4 Common Microaggressions at Work

by Sam Levine

#1 Assigning Gendered Tasks

Alice is the only female member on her team and every time they have a meeting, her boss Allen requests Alice take notes.

#2 Ignoring Gendered Pronouns

Jon is a transgender employee and has asked all of his coworkers to use the pronouns he/him/his when referring to him.– all except Sally who continues to misuse Jon’s pronouns

#3 Mixing Up Names

Esther is Chinese-American and her colleague Rose is Korean. Esther and Rose’s boss, Taylor, always gets the two mixed up and frequently calls Rose by Esther’s name and vice-versa. 

#4 Singling Employees Out by Race

Jeremy is the only black employee on the team, his boss Anna always puts him on the spot during meetings to ask what he thinks the team should do to appeal to diverse customers.

Here's What You Can Do

1. Think before you act - ask yourself, "could this action or comment be misunderstood?"

2. If you commit a microaggression, own up to it and apologize.

3. Learn from your mistakes and educate yourself

4. Build an inclusive workplace by holding your colleagues accountable for their actions

If employees are scared to be their true selves at work or don’t feel their voices are valued, they might be reluctant to speak up, share ideas, and volunteer for projects. This can also lead to an increase in absenteeism, burnout, and ultimately turnover, which can be costly for your organization.  Investing in diversity and inclusion (D&I) is proven to positively impact business performance. When workplaces build an inclusive team and community that embraces diversity, they see increases in innovation and revenue, according to this Harvard Business Review study. That’s why investing in diversity and inclusion should be a priority for any organization. Managers need to appreciate the unique characteristics of everyone on their teams. By leading with vulnerability, empathy, and solidarity, managers can ensure employees from all walks of life feel valued and appreciated at work.  Here’s a look at how managers can use these three skills to build an inclusive team and workplace culture.

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