Microaggressions at work

How Workplace Microaggressions Impact Hiring and Company Culture

Your business needs a diverse team built on equality, inclusion, and mutual respect to thrive in the future. Yet microaggressions can have far-flung effects on your company’s ability to build an inclusive workplace. Microaggressions can impact a company at all levels. Read on to learn how workplace microaggressions impact hiring and company culture.

What Are Microaggressions in the Workplace?

Workplace microaggressions are subtle verbal or nonverbal actions directed toward a member of a marginalized group. Yet with a clear understanding of microaggressions, your business is well-equipped to guard against them and improve workplace safety for all.

Workplace Microaggressions

There are three types of workplace microaggressions

Behavioral Microaggressions

Delivers a message that contains actions or symbols that show insensitivity to identify stereotypes. 

Environmental Microaggressions

Consists of an environment where there is a lack of representation and diversity based on gender, race, ethnicity, and other factors. 

Verbal Microaggressions

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Makes a statement that is blatantly or subtly disrespectful or offensive to a marginalized group. 

Workplace microaggressions can be difficult to pinpoint and resolve. This is because microaggressions do not appear in the same fashion as outright abuse, discrimination, or harassment. 

Examples of Microaggressions

Common microaggressions include:

Microassaults

A microassault is a form of overt discrimination or criticism. It is done intentionally to harm a marginalized group. Examples include belittling or bullying behavior, such as the use of racial epithets or slurs based on religion or sexuality.

Microinsults

Microinsults consist of comments that communicate that a demographic group is not respected. At the same time, these insults are directed toward a target that is viewed as an exception to a stereotype.

For example, a microinsult may be seen as a compliment in the eyes of the person who said it. Conversely, the person who receives the communication may view it as a direct insult. And in this instance, the individual who delivered the microinsult may be unaware that he or she has insulted their target due to their own unconscious bias or prejudice.

Microinvalidations

A microinvalidation refers to a comment or action that dismisses members of a disadvantaged group and their respective historical experiences. For instance, an individual may tell someone that he or she “doesn’t see color.” But doing so can discredit someone who views their race and culture as parts of their identity.   

Do not expect microaggressions to disappear on their own. Rather, businesses must consistently take steps to identify and address microaggressions. This ensures companies can minimize the impact of workplace microaggressions and focus instead on getting employees excited about work

How Do Microaggressions Impact Businesses and Their Employees?

Microaggressions can make people feel invalidated. They can lead individuals to question their abilities, to the point where they experience mental health issues or cause existing ones to worsen. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can escalate due to microaggressions.

If an individual is frequently a victim of microaggressions, he or she may experience extreme feelings of sadness, loneliness, and guilt. In addition, this individual may feel exceedingly stressed out and overwhelmed by everyday life. At this time, the individual may struggle to keep pace with their daily activities. He or she may be prone to isolate from others. And this individual may struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues long into the future. 

For businesses and their employees, microaggressions are inexcusable. Businesses can miss out on top talent if microaggressions persist. Meanwhile, it may be impossible for workers to feel and perform their best in a toxic work environment dominated by microaggressions. Thus, negative business culture can develop that permeates across a business. The culture may even hamper a company’s ability to recruit talent.

How to Address Workplace Microaggressions

Educating workers about microaggressions is paramount for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. You can develop a training program that teaches employees about microaggressions and the dangers associated with them. The program can be implemented at all levels of your business, too. 

Your training program can break down gender stereotypes. It can also provide employees with opportunities to ask about microaggressions. Furthermore, the program can teach workers how to respond if they or others are victims of microaggressions at work. 

Establish clear-cut policy and procedures for combating workplace microaggressions. The policy should define microaggressions and the steps employees can take to report them. It should explain the ramifications of using microaggressions toward others as well. 

Finally, maintain a diversity and inclusion strategy. Develop this strategy in conjunction with members of different business departments. And include individuals of myriad groups and backgrounds in your strategy’s creation. This ensures you can put together a diversity and inclusion strategy that meets the needs of your company and its employees. 

The Bottom Line on Workplace Microaggressions

Microaggressions can occur without notice and impact your company and its workers. Yet a company that takes a proactive approach to microaggressions can cultivate a creative corporate culture and prevent these actions or behaviors from causing long-lasting problems. 

When it comes to microaggressions, everyone can do their part to combat them. Remain persistent in your efforts to guard against workplace microaggressions. Encourage your workers to come forward with concerns or questions about microaggressions. Let your workers know you want to help them mitigate microaggressions at work in any way possible. From here, you can limit workplace microaggressions and their impact on your business and its employees. 

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