14 Examples of Microaggressions in the Workplace and How to Reduce Them

14 Examples of Microaggressions in the Workplace and How to Reduce Them

Companies looking to improve diversity and inclusion must understand examples of microaggressions in the workplace and how to reduce them. What is microaggression in the workplace, and how does it hurt organizations? What can you do to educate your employees about it?

Below, our team at Group Enroll answers these questions with in-depth definitions and explanations to help you reduce microaggressions in your company.

Table of Contents

Defining Microaggression

Microaggressions are words, actions, and environments that convey primarily negative stereotypical viewpoints towards and about marginalized and minority individuals and groups.

Microaggressions are typically unintentional but have a significantly damaging effect on the recipient. In some cases, the person committing the microaggression may even attempt to be complimentary, but that doesn’t excuse them from learning that their words or actions may be perceived as more harmful than kind.

This type of behaviour and environment results from implicit biases that can be difficult to recognize due to the unconscious nature of this form of prejudice, often by white colleagues of people of colour. People develop these biases due to exposure to direct and indirect social cues, messages, and other variables over their lifetime.

While the term includes the word micro, that doesn’t mean this behaviour, attitude, or environment is a minor problem. Those who experience microaggression often share that these instances occur multiple times every day of their lives, and the negative impact becomes exponential.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of microaggressions and see examples from the workplace.

Types of Microaggressions

These definitions and examples of microaggressions in the workplace will help you understand how individuals might automatically or unintentionally express implicit biases toward marginalized and minority groups.

Verbal Microaggression

Behavioural Microaggression

Environmental Microaggression

Examples of Microaggressions in the Workplace

Explore these scenarios to understand better how microaggression can present in the workplace for different minority and marginalized groups. While it isn’t a comprehensive list, it aims to help you understand how microaggressions can hide in plain sight.

It is essential to understand that companies must work with and actively listen to employees reporting microaggressions in the workplace. The list below is not a simple guideline to follow to form policies; it only shares some potential circumstances in which microaggression occurs.


Gender Identity

Physical or Mental Disability

Race or Nationality

Religious Beliefs

Sexual Orientation

Socio Economic and Financial Status

Negative Organizational Impact of Microaggressions in the Workplace

While one might assume that because microaggressions are more subtle than explicit bias and overt discrimination, it’s essential to remember that subtle discrimination is just as damaging as more blatant discrimination and can contribute to people experiencing the following:

  • Higher stress levels
  • Increases in anxiety
  • Deeper depressions
  • Decreases in productivity
  • Complete physical or mental burnout

Workplaces experiencing microaggression are unwittingly contributing to the invalidation of their employees’ sense of self-worth or perpetuating an exclusionary culture. This work culture will reduce a company’s or organization’s talent pool and negatively impact business functionality and profit lines.

Addressing Examples of Microaggression in the Workplace

Addressing microaggression in the workplace requires more than a simple one-size-fits-all policy. Your employees will need the training to understand better the internalized human phenomenon of bias that damages those around them who identify with a marginalized or minority group.

Companies should also do in-depth research without depending on employees who identify with marginalized or minority groups to teach their employers and coworkers how to respect them. That expectation is laden with emotional labour that connects to the traumas that microaggressions inherently cause.

Explore the following tips to learn about the resources and training your company needs to implement to reduce microaggression in the workplace.

Learn to Recognize Implicit Bias and Be Open to Accountability

Commit to Bias Training

Learn About Marginalized and Minority Groups

Support a Safe Environment

Enforce a Process to Eliminate Microaggressions

Provide Mental Health Support Services


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