Today's special guest, Dr. Tiffany Jana are diversity, equity and inclusion thought leaders. Her new book, written with co-author Dr. Michael Baran Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify and Stop Microaggressions, reframes the concept of microaggressions in order to gain some traction on a problem that hasn’t seen much progress in decades.
Microaggressions are ways that people unintentionally exclude and alienate others. Even though they may be unintentional, they inflict harm. They can take a cumulative toll when, for example, coworkers repeatedly mispronounce someone’s name, or when people cross the street when someone who looks or dresses differently approaches. Research shows that insensitivities such as these wear on victims’ physical and emotional well-being.
It can be awkward, if not perilous, for subjects of microaggressions (also referred to as subtle acts of exclusion) to set the record straight. Pointing out the offense to a coworker, an acquaintance, or a stranger can raise hackles. Yet, when the subject or an observer speaks up, it can be effective. Ignoring inaccurate assumptions or pretending they didn’t happen renders the subject invisible and silently condones the act. Speaking up also helps initiators recognize that we all mess up sometimes, and the only real problem would be not trying to improve our behavior after receiving feedback.
Dr. Tiffany Jana is the CEO of TMI Portfolio, a collection of companies working to advance inclusive workplaces. TMI Consulting, a TMI Portfolio company, is a 2018 Best for the World B Corporation. Jana is also the coauthor of Overcoming Bias and the second edition of the B Corp Handbook.