Workplace Diversity and Micro-Aggression in Employees

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 3
Words: 695
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

Despite numerous arguments supporting diversity and its benefits to organizations, some firms are still opposed to its adoption. McGuire (2014) explains resistance by arguing that it can take three forms. The first one is the political correctness of adopting diversity because people are often wary to adopt practices that exclude or marginalize certain sections of the population. I believe this is one of the reasons inhibiting firms from adopting diversity because they believe that those who do so are only doing so to be politically correct. To them, this may be a weak reason to embrace diversity. McGuire (2014) advances the second argument against diversity by highlighting the cost of embracing it. In my experience, this reason often affects small and medium organizations that may find it challenging to implement the concept due to limited funds. Therefore, they choose to maintain existing human resource practices to keep their costs low. Thirdly, McGuire (2014) says companies refrain from embracing diversity because it threatens the existing mainstream cultural identity. I believe organizations that fail to adopt diversity because of this reason tend to be dominated by majoritarianism. Therefore, including minority populations in leadership positions, or other aspects of business operations, is likely to be unsupported because it threatens majoritarian rule.

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Before reading the class materials, I was familiar with the concept of micro-aggression, which refers to an individual or group of people making insensitive comments or hurling insults at a person to undermine them because of their affiliation to a stereotyped section of the population (Onwuamaegbu, 2021). My experience is that micro-aggressions undermine employee productivity because it distracts them from optimizing their potential. Indeed, they constantly have to defend themselves against such attacks, while they should be focused on improving their skills for improved performance (Washington et al., 2020). Limborg (2020) supports this view by pointing out that such micro-aggressions often happen casually and often, thereby making them disruptive to employee workflow processes. Therefore, there is a need to train all employees to refrain from supporting such passive-aggressive acts because they undermine the organization’s overall performance.

The concept of intersectionality plays a pivotal role in understanding how micro-aggressions affect employees, especially those from marginalized groups. As explained by researchers such as Byrd (2014), intersectionality highlights the interlocking forms of social oppression where marginalized groups of people feel constantly attacked for possessing characteristics deemed unfavorable by the dominant group. For example, racism has been used to undermine minority groups through invisible systems of control that promote the dominance of one group over another. For example, McIntosh (1990) points out that “white supremacy” has been used to propagate the belief that racism does not exist because of the decline of individual acts of meanness; however, it fails to account for subtle forms of control and bias, which have implications on the career progression of marginalized employees (McIntosh, 1990). In such situations, members of disenfranchised groups may feel isolated and misunderstood (Ross-Gordon & Brooks, 2004). Diversity training should be designed to correct this imbalance of power. In other words, it should strive to create equity and fairness in managing human resource practices.

Washington et al. (2020) say, “One of the reasons for a lack of diversity research in human resource planning may be that faculty in the field are not very diverse” (p. 1). This statement helped to improve my overall understanding of diversity in the workplace because it shows that the composition of an organization’s leadership may be an impediment, or facilitator, to the adoption of diverse business practices. Stated differently, implementing diversity principles may depend on several factors, not just the employees or their technical skills of implementing diversity policies. This is why Washington et al. (2020) recommend that academicians need to conduct more research on all aspects of diversity, mainly because of changing demographics. In this regard, it is possible to create culturally diverse teams associated with improved workplace performance (Limborg, 2020). However, organizations should adopt processes to achieve these outcomes are unclear. At the same time, although trust helps moderate the effect of diversity on employee performance, the main question to probe in such a context is how to measure trust among people from different backgrounds.

References

Byrd, M. (2014) Diversity issues: exploring “critical” through multiple lenses. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 16(4), 515-528.

Limborg. A. (2020). Microaggressions are a big deal: How to talk them out and when to walk. 

McIntosh, P. (1990). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. Independent School, 49(2), 31-36.

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Onwuamaegbu, N. (2021). Many black women felt relieved to work from home, free from microaggressions. Now they’re told to come back. 

Ross-Gordon, J. M., & Brooks, A. K. (2004) Diversity in human resource development and continuing professional education: What does it mean for the workforce, clients, and professionals? Advances in Developing Human Resources, 6(69), 69-85.

Washington, E. F., Birch, A. H. & Roberts, L. M. (2020). When and how to respond to microaggressions.