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The Small Acts of Workplace Discrimination That Are Destroying Your Team's Morale

Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard of micro-aggressions? They're sneaky little acts of discrimination and prejudice that can really pack a punch, especially for those who are already marginalized. Marginalized populations often have to deal with them on a daily basis. They might come in the form of a snide comment, a dismissive gesture, or even just a raised eyebrow. And while they might seem small on their own, the cumulative impact of these micro-aggressions can be incredibly harmful.

Think about it: if you're constantly subjected to comments that make you feel like you don't belong or that your voice doesn't matter, how are you supposed to feel empowered or motivated in your job? That kind of stress and negativity can lead to all sorts of problems, from lower job satisfaction to increased absenteeism and even physical health issues. Let alone stalling efforts to create a more inclusive workplace. Micro-Aggressions become like rust. Slowly eating away at DEI from the inside. By the time you look up, you're wondering why your efforts aren't working.

  • When a person of Hispanic decent is told that they are impressive because they speak English very well when it's their first language

  • When a woman attempts to speak at a board meeting an can never finish a sentence because of constant interruptions

  • When a black person is told that they are the whitest black person they know

  • When someone from the LGBTQ+ community is told that they don't "look gay"

  • Walking up to a person of Asian decent and asking where they are from

It's a sad reality that the list of micro-aggressions in our daily lives seems endless. Jokes, insults, put-downs, and everyday slights that might seem innocent on the surface actually do more harm than we realize. The targets of these aggressions often keep their emotions bottled up because they're so accustomed to them, leading to a sense of frustration that's rarely revealed. Dealing with the sheer volume of offenses can feel overwhelming, so people often stay silent. The problem with this approach is that it allows these behaviors to continue. The normalization of these behaviors in our workplaces perpetuates a toxic culture that erodes morale and productivity.

But fear not, my friends, for there are solutions to this problem! The first step is to increase awareness and education around micro-aggressions. We need to start calling out these behaviors when we see them and educating people about the impact of their words and actions. And we need to do it in a way that's constructive and empowering, not confrontational or accusatory.

The next step is to create a culture of reporting. People need to feel comfortable speaking up when they experience micro-aggressions, and they need to know that there's a process in place for handling these incidents. This could involve designating a specific person or team to handle these reports, or simply making it clear that anyone can come forward with their concerns.

And finally, we need leaders and managers who are committed to creating an inclusive and respectful workplace. They need to model the kind of behavior that we want to see from everyone else, and they need to hold people accountable for their actions. If we can all work together to make these changes, we can create a workplace where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to do their best work.

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