A Resource for Local Businesses
"The Perspective" is a monthly publication of the Chamber's Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Task Force, comprised of approximately 30 representatives with a passion for sharing information and learning best practices about diversity, inclusion and minority business development to improve our workforce.
This month's edition of The Perspective celebrates Pride Month by offering resources, stories, events, and more to encourage education about the LGBTQ+ community, and how to become an ally in the workplace.
If you have topics you wish to learn more about, or if you have any suggestions, comments, ideas, etc. on how we can continue to improve this publication, please, CLICK HERE. At the Chamber, we are constantly working with our Diversity & Equity (D&I) Task Force, community members, and other chambers to find share resources and topics that benefit community businesses. Finding new perspectives is the key to advancing the workforce.
Task Force Chair: Wesley Escondo, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Wisconsin
Staff Liaison: Kaylynn Stahlbusch, Vice President of Workforce Initiatives
Toward One Wisconsin Conference
Conference Theme: Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers
October 12-13, 2021, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Wherever you are on your Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) journey, there’s something for you at Toward One Wisconsin. Whether you’re just starting out and overwhelmed, or you’re a leading activist in your community, this conference will provide best practices, insights and implementation tools to help you take the next steps. Across all sectors of business and life in Wisconsin, parallel efforts are underway to prioritize DEI. We may be in different places based on the diversity of our experiences, but we’re all traveling the same journey: Toward One Wisconsin.
14th Annual Justice Race
Bring the whole family to a fun and energizing event to directly support victims of human trafficking. This year’s race has no limit to in-person registration but will include a virtual option as well. Other highlights include family friendly activities, adrenaline pumping music, and special awards for top finishers.
Microaggressions...What are They?
NPR: Kevin Nadal Defines Microaggression
Microaggressions are defined as the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.
The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them.
Someone commenting on how well an Asian American speaks English, which presumes the Asian American was not born here, is one example of a microaggression. Presuming that a black person is dangerous or violent is another example. A common experience that black men talk about is being followed around in stores or getting on an elevator and having people move away and grab their purses or their wallets.
Oftentimes, people don't even realize that they're doing those sorts of things. And in fact, if you were to stop them and say, 'Why did you just move?' They would deny it because they don't recognize that their behaviors communicate their racial biases.
Listen to Full Interview:
Baker College: Examples of Workplace Aggressions & How to Reduce Them
What do you do when stereotypes seem to rule your work experience? Workplace microaggressions are subtle behaviors that affect members of marginalized groups but can add up and create even greater conflicts over time. If you can’t quite put your finger on the problem, whether the stressor is behavioral, environmental or verbal, it might be a series of workplace microaggressions fueling the fire.
Types of workplace microaggressions:
Forbes: If You’re Not Sure What Workplace Microaggressions Look Like, Here Are 7 Examples
1. You’re so articulate. You speak really well. While the words may seem innocuous (even complimentary), depending on the tone and context, the comments can feel condescending as if people of color aren’t expected to have full command of their own language. “The statement reflects an assumption that the person would not have been articulate, and they are surprised to find out that they are,” explains Wheeler.
2. Where are you really from? Latinx and Asian professionals (in particular) often complain about this microaggression. “I cannot count how many times I’ve been asked this as a third-generation Chinese American,” explains diversity and inclusion strategist Lisa Ong. In response, she pauses, smiles and says, “Oh, you mean my grandparents came from China…and my parents were born in Brooklyn, and I was born in Brooklyn too.” When they follow up with “Wow, you speak English so well,” she jokingly replies, “Thanks, I guess you cannot hear my Brooklyn accent.” This microaggression is a classic example of making a comment or asking a question that has an “othering” effect. It sends a clear message that the person of color is viewed as foreign or different. These small comments reinforce a sense of not belonging to the dominant group.
3. Why are you getting so angry? Known as tone policing - people of color are often accused of being angry or overly animated during discussions. Ong explains that she’s seen this happen to Black colleagues. “They may be accused of being too aggressive or ‘angry’ when they are simply trying to make a point that they strongly believe is important. When I echo their comments, all of a sudden, it’s a good idea?” Comments like this suggest that people of color don’t have the right to become animated, excited, frustrated or express other authentic emotions without being perceived as threatening or creating a negative impression. This is yet another example of how microaggressions can push people of color away and create tension and discord.
4. Would you mind coordinating lunch? Diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism consultant Aaisha Joseph explains that one of her pet peeve microaggressions is “expecting the Black staff to be the housekeepers/cleaners of the office.” This could manifest as a manager of color being asked to make copies for the meeting or reserve meeting rooms. Certainly, there are times when everyone chips in to assist with administrative tasks, but if it seems like the only woman in the group or the only person of color on the team is somehow expected to take on this role by default (or more frequently than others), that’s definitely problematic.
CPEDV: Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life
Medical News Today: What to know about microaggressions in the workplace
Experts have described three forms of microaggressions:
These are commonly described as “old-fashioned racism” because the person behaves deliberately in a discriminatory manner.
However, they are not intending to offend someone or may not think their actions are harmful. The person will not openly say that they are acting in a discriminatory way.
These occur when people unintentionally or unconsciously say discriminatory things or behave in a discriminatory way.
When people communicate microinsults, they may believe that they are complimenting the person. However, they are actually making insulting statements.
These are actions and behaviors that deny racism and discrimination. Invalidations occur when a person undermines the struggles of target groups.
Racism is present in society, and people who believe it does not exist negate reality.
CPEDV: Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life
Addressing Microaggressions in the Workplace
Eliminating Microaggressions: The Next Level of Inclusion
Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group.
In this Talk Tiffany, lays out how this behavior manifests itself, the role you play, and what you can do to avoid perpetuating its continued existence in society. Tiffany Alvoid is an attorney. She earned a JD from UCLA School of Law with a concentration in Critical Race Theory. Tiffany created a training about addressing microaggressions in the workplace in an effort to create awareness about how destructive they can be in the workplace. Tiffany’s training focuses on the historical context that makes certain phrases offensive in an effort to help participants understand the unique perspective of marginalized groups. Tiffany conducts the training for teams to help create a more inclusive and productive work environment. Currently, Tiffany works at Twitter on their employee relations team.
How to Reduce Microaggressions in the Workplace
Lead by Example
As a leader, you hold a position of authority and power. One of the best things you can do is to use your power for positive change! Practice a culture of inclusivity, respect, and appreciation, and make the team understand that microaggressions don’t belong. Be aware of your own statements and actions and set an example of accountability by acknowledging when you’ve inadvertently committed a microaggression. Be open to feedback, and listen to understand, not to reply.
If your team is not as comfortable discussing topics like racism, sexism, or ableism, start by holding informal small-group discussions about the topics. Ask your team if they’ve ever experienced a microaggression in a former job or with a client. Work with your team to talk through how they could respond if they witness a customer, client, or colleague committing a microaggression. Practicing saying the words out loud in a safe environment makes it easier to address in other situations.
Build a Supportive Culture
Encourage your team to listen to and respect each other and suggest a system of support and accountability so that nobody feels “alone” when confronting microaggressions. Above all, make sure that you clearly communicate that you support your team and their individual choices to speak up when they feel compelled to do so and that you will similarly support them if they don’t feel comfortable enough to speak one’s mind.
Commit to the Marathon
The work of breaking down long-established biases and manners is not a sprint. The effort to put in to facilitate true change will never be finished, so avoid feeling discouraged when new issues arise. This is a given. Also, remember that your team will keep an eye on you for cues of how to react, so building in quarterly conversations to keep these challenging topics from being lost in the shuffle is important.
Microaggressions are pervasive and subtle, however, as a leader you have the power to reduce their occurrence through leading by example, facilitating honest discussion, building a supportive culture, and committing to long-term action for yourself and your team. Your efforts will create iterative but lasting change, improving the well-being and happiness of employees. Now is a wonderful time to start this journey.
Indeed: How to Handle Microaggressions in the Workplace
Addressing the microaggression as an ally
Part of being an ally in the workplace is speaking up when you witness the oppression of a marginalized group. The tips for addressing the microaggression for an ally are the same as the tips above with a few variations.
First, if you do not belong to a marginalized group it may be harder for you to spot a microaggression. If you think you witnessed a microaggression but aren’t sure, you may consider talking to a trusted co-worker about the situation, especially if they were present when the comment was made.
Second, as you are not part of the group being marginalized by the comment or action the individual may not view you as having the “credit” to confront the microaggression. This is where the education piece of the assertive approach will come into play. Since the microaggression did not hurt you individually, it can be constructive to educate the individual on how the comment or action could have been racially or discriminatorily charged.
What to do if you’ve communicated a microaggression
As we mention, microaggressions are common. It’s not unlikely that you’ve committed a microaggression before and may commit one again in the future. As humans, we make mistakes, and in these moments it’s helpful to maintain a growth mindset.
If you recognize that you did or said something that could have negatively impacted a marginalized group, take responsibility for it and genuinely apologize. You may consider apologizing to the individual/s affected privately as to not draw any more attention to them in what could already be an uncomfortable situation.
There may also be times you are unaware you committed a microaggression and someone confronts you. If this is the case, try to be open to the feedback without getting defensive. If you respond to the confrontation with a statement like, “That’s not what happened. I’m not racist.” you could be making the situation worse by minimizing the individual's experience. Instead, consider acknowledging their pain, reflecting on how your comment or action was offensive, and thanking them for bringing it to your attention. Taking the conversation seriously will allow you to grow as an inclusive coworker in turn making the workplace a more inclusive environment.
Harvard Business Review: You've Been Called out for a Microaggression. What do you do?
If you’ve been called out for committing a microaggression you need to respond with compassion, concern, and humility. “You want people to feel respected, so you need to walk the talk,” Zheng says. “It’s important to get this right.” Here are some tips.
Take a breath.
Being called out for a microaggression does not feel good. You may experience a range of emotions — “stress, embarrassment, defensiveness, and your heart rate may even go up,” says Zheng. This is normal. But do not let these sensations rule how you react. Instead, “take a breath.” Calm yourself. Understand that while you may have made a mistake, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. In these circumstances, people often fall prey to the fundamental attribution error — a “tendency to believe that things happen because of who we are as people rather than the situation,” says Zheng. In other words, you can still be “a good person with positive intentions, who slipped up.”
And there’s an upside to being called out for a microaggression: It’s an indication of trust. The person who labeled your comment believes that you can be better, says Jana. “If they don’t think you’re capable of, or interested in, evolving they would not have wasted their breath.”
Don’t make it about you.
While being called out for a microaggression may be awkward and uncomfortable, you don’t want to get defensive. “You must not make it about you,” says Jana. “When a human being tells you that they have been harmed by your words or actions, you need to focus on the injured party.” It can be helpful to remember that “every callout has an entire history’s worth of unsaid context behind it,” says Zheng. “When someone says, ‘What you said hurt me,’ they’re saying, ‘You have hurt me in the way that people have hurt me, and people like me, in the past.’” In other words, your remark was not “just one interpersonal interaction.” Rather it carried centuries’ worth of discrimination, cruelty, and oppression. “And the weight of historical oppression is very heavy,” says Zheng.
Your first priority is to make sure the other person feels heard, says Jana. As difficult as it may be to receive the criticism, “they are taking a risk by putting themselves on the line.” Listen to what they say with an open heart and an open mind. Be grateful. “It is a deeply sacred gift for someone to reflect back to you how you’re showing up in the world and to help you become more evolved,” explains Jana. Express appreciation, and then “follow the other person’s lead,” says Zheng. Sometimes the individual calling you out may “want to explain to you all the ways that what you said was harmful and give you a history lesson to go along with it,” she says. Other times, all they may reveal is, “‘Don’t say that word.’”
Eau Claire Chamber
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