September 18, 2020
By Katherine Johnson, Fast Company
It’s more clear than ever that putting diversity and inclusion at the heart of an organization strengthens it at every level. Diversity has been conclusively shown to promote innovation, drive higher revenue, and improve employee engagement as companies strive to hire, include, and give equal value to employees from all backgrounds and circumstances.
Inclusion within a business means involving and empowering everyone and recognizing their inherent worth and dignity. An inclusive company also promotes and sustains a sense of belonging through its values and practices, respecting the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and identities of its employees.
Startups, in particular, have an opportunity to build diversity and inclusion from the ground up—a chance that only comes once. Taking steps as early as possible to address culture poisoners such as microaggressions and unconscious bias will help create inclusion for all employees, contractors, and partners, and position the organization for a healthy culture and long-term growth.
Understanding the Harm of Microaggressions
Microaggressions are quick and frequent slights that communicate hostility or demean others through words, actions, or environmental indignities. They are also among the most insidious and harmful behaviors in the modern workplace.
Microaggressions can make others feel excluded because of their age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. They can be intentional or unintentional. The impact of microaggressions is not a symptom of people being overly sensitive. Everyone can overlook a clumsy joke or outdated assumption once in a while. But when small indignities continue to pile up, it becomes dehumanizing, frustrating, and harmful.