Micro-inequities are small, subtle, often subconscious messages of prejudice that undermine the morale and reduce productivity of a workplace. Micro-inequities can be verbal or non-verbal in nature. These small, yet negative communications of disrespect, prejudice and inequality are not overt, but they can be incredibly destructive. The impact of micro-inequities includes: low self-esteem, distraction, decreased morale, reduced productivity, lack of motivation, frustration, increased turn-over and liability.
Examples of micro-inequities are:
*excluding someone from a relevant email
*neglecting to include someone in introductions
*letting eyes wander around while in a conversation
*mispronouncing someone's name
*listening with folded arms
*ignoring cultural differences/needs/sensitivities
*interrupting someone while they are speaking
Micro-inequities are based on bias. Each person hears a comment through their own filters of experience and knowledge. This process, although totally natural, impacts the workplace in dramatically significant ways. Biases cause people to prejudge, and applying those pre-judgments creates stereotypical behavior. At the same time, people experience behaviors through their own biases, and react with their own pre-judgments. It's a cycle. There are several different types of bias. For example, gender bias, faith-based bias, sexual orientation bias, and racial bias.
Sometimes when we are trying to be sensitive to the needs or situation of others, we end up excluding the person unnecessarily. We've all done it. We're talking about something and then the conversation abruptly stops when someone else walks in to hearing range. Our reasons for doing so vary, but when we include the person in the discussion, it results in a much more positive outcome. We should all work to be more inclusive. For example:
*encourage open, honest discussions
*invite others to share perspectives
*respect varying opinions
*be open to learn about valuing difference.
Our experience or lack of experience with a particular culture impacts our interactions. There are subtle differences in conducting business with those from cultures other than our own. It is to our benefit to learn more about these differences. For example: verbal expressions, reception of communication, non-verbal behavior, appearance, customs and rituals.
All too often we take information or a situation at face value, and our nature is to allow the information to become fact. However, it is important to seek evidence to confirm or discredit our perception. We should avoid taking what we hear at face value, be inquisitive and be generous in judgment of others.
There are three main keys to eliminating micro-inequities
We should each identify our own micro-inequities and explore possible sources of those micro-inequities. We should seek feedback for our own behavior. We should all consider the potential negative impact in our workplace, of small pre-judgments, and work to address any perceptions of inequality. And we should all respect each other's differences and learn about one another.
Question 1: How can you help create a more inclusive workplace?
Question 2: How can you avoid micro-inequities at work?
Question 3: How can you work more effectively with cultural differences?
Question 4: When you encounter a person whose viewpoints are different than yours, how should you handle this situation?
Question 5: What are the three main keys to eliminating micro-inequities in the workplace?