Prejudice is something most people experience on a daily basis everywhere they go, and the workplace is no exception to this. But just because it’s something most of us have experienced, doesn’t mean that it’s right. Sometimes, we miss that people have been prejudiced towards us because we’re unaware of what prejudice really looks like. Here’s an article to help you identify workplace prejudice.
What is prejudice?
Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that’s not based on reason or actual experience. It’s the way that people view you based on your background, beliefs, race etc. And these opinions are usually incorrect and stereotypical.
How to recognise prejudice in the workplace
Recognising prejudice usually begins with being able to identify the micro-aggressions. Being able to identify the micro-insults, micro-assaults and micro-invalidations is important, especially in helping you fight prejudice. To identify these, you have to know what they mean. Here are some helpful explanations.
Micro-assaults are incidents which can be viewed as insulting or offensive that include physical acts. For example, invading someone’s space in the workplace, inappropriately touching a co-worker or avoiding any kind of contact with a co-worker that may be considered “different”, be it on the basis of race, disabilities, beliefs etc. These are examples of committing a micro-assault. Micro-assaults can sometimes cross over into harassment- here’s some more information on workplace harassment, as well as sexual harassment in the workplace.
Micro-insults usually aim to insult or offend a co-worker. These are usually very rude and belittling to one’s identity. Micro-insults may be subtle and sometimes unrecognisable, but the aim of the micro-aggressor is usually malicious and intends to show prejudice. For example, implying or making gay co-workers seem like they’re feminine and referencing them the same way you would female co-workers, when we all know that not all gay men are feminine or wish to be addressed as women.
Micro-invalidations involve making co-workers feel like their thoughts, feelings and opinions don’t matter because they’re part of a particular social group. For example, making women who don’t have children in the workplace feel like they can’t have a say when it comes to topics about mothers and children.
Prejudice may be downplayed until it happens to you directly, so being able to recognise it and being brave enough to fight it will make things much easier for you, especially if this is your reality every single day. We all deserve respect and we all have the responsibility to respect others, their identity and beliefs. If you’ve experienced prejudice and you’d like to talk about it, we’re always here to listen. Send us a DM on our social pages Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or chat to us on Ask CellCgirl.