The King’s Fund: Speaking up: challenging microaggressions in the workplace

This is a blog post by Dana James-Edwards, Head of Diversity and Inclusion and The King’s Fund. It is shared here as originally published on The Kings Fund website.


A few weeks ago, I read a Twitter thread where people from minoritised groups in the NHS were recounting their experiences of microaggressions (everyday, subtle, intentional and oftentimes unintentional interactions or behaviours that communicate bias toward historically marginalised groups) at work.  

The conversation was filled with the heart-breaking experiences of people working in a variety of roles across the NHS, alongside messages of support, solidarity and helpful suggestions and advice.  

Not speaking up in the moment doesn’t mean choosing never to address the issue. There is a case to be made for initiating discussions at a later point when emotions are less heightened and when you’ve found the words. You might also want to draw on the help and support of an ally before deciding on a course of action, which is what I ended up doing in the situation I outlined above. It should also be noted that not speaking up to protect yourself and your mental health is also a valid choice that should be celebrated not derided. ‘…

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