10 microaggressions to be aware of at the workplace

The Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020 was a powerful moment for many and it has opened up conversations regarding inclusive culture especially in the workplace. Here, Kavita Singh breaks down 10 common microaggressions that can cause harm in a work environment. 

Late last year, Logz.io’s director of field marketing Tina Morwani wrote a blog for B2B Marketing calling for brands to take a stand in a predominantly white business sector. One thing she mentioned was watching workplace language, especially when it comes to everyday microaggressions marketers might be unaware of.

She says: “Microaggressions are daily indignities perpetrated against people because of their affiliation with a marginalised group. They’re psychologically harmful, but also small, cumulative, frequent and often unintentional with much broader social implications – the normalisation of discrimination.”

Here, we broke down 10 common microaggressions you might’ve heard or said yourself, along with some insight on why it’s harmful language.

  1. “Where are you actually from?”: Asking where someone is from and where they’re actually from are two different things. The focal point shifts to the way someone appears. Tina says: “The effect in which a person is constantly reminded that they’re not like everybody else is deeply problematic, because it places a taxing burden on them to police their own appearance and behaviour, taking energy away from many of the things they want to pursue in life. Microaggressions keep you off balance, distracted and defensive.”
  2. “Your name is difficult to say”, or “Can I call you (nickname)?”: If someone tells you their full name, learn it. Don’t try to come up with a shortened alternative or demean the name by saying it’s difficult to pronounce. If someone does have a difficult name, it’s perfectly okay to ask how to pronounce it.