Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions


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The first practical handbook that helps individuals and organizations recognize and prevent microaggressions so that all employees can feel a sense of belonging.

Our workplaces and society are growing more diverse, but are we supporting inclusive cultures? While overt racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination are relatively easy to spot, we cannot neglect the subtler everyday actions that normalize exclusion. Many have heard the term microaggression, but not everyone fully understands what they are or how to recognize them and stop them from happening.

Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran offer a clearer, more accessible term, subtle acts of exclusion, or SAEs, to emphasize the purpose and effects of these actions. After all, people generally aren't trying to be aggressive--usually they're trying to say something nice, learn more about a person, be funny, or build closeness. But whether in the form of exaggerated stereotypes, backhanded compliments, unfounded assumptions, or objectification, SAE are damaging to our coworkers, friends, and acquaintances.

Jana and Baran give simple and clear tools to identify and address such acts, offering scripts and action plans for everybody involved. Knowing how to have these conversations in an open-minded, honest way will help us build trust and create stronger workplaces and healthier, happier people and communities.

 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.

Dr. Michael Baran is a social scientist and senior partner and digital solutions lead at inQUEST Consulting. Through his writing, speaking, and facilitation, Baran brings innovation and deep understanding to wide audiences. He has taught at Harvard University and worked as a principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research.

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