Dealing with microaggressions

Members of our RPS Action in Belonging, Culture and Diversity (ABCD) Group, who volunteer to help guide our inclusion and diversity work, have developed a resource on how to recognise and deal with microaggressions in the workplace and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.  

Microaggressions are verbal and non-verbal snubs and insults which communicate hostile or negative messages and behaviours that target a person’s protected characteristics – for example their race, age, gender sexual orientation or disability – and cause them pain and upset. They can be intentional and unintentional and are based on conscious or unconscious biases about people. 

Left unchallenged, microaggressions can become part of workplace culture and impact individual wellbeing and mental health. Teams can end up making decisions based on bias, which can lead to a lack of progression or achievement for certain groups, creating an unhappy workforce and recruitment and retention issues. 

The resource explains: 

  • What a microaggression is 
  • What not to say and how not to behave 
  • How to challenge them – as a recipient or a witness 
  • How to create a more positive culture 

Our dedicated ABCD team of Naveen Dosanjh, Cherise Gyimah, Mohammed Hussain, Nisa Khan, Farzana Mohammed, Jayeshkumar Patel, Vivien Yu and the Black Pharmacist Initiative created the resource and focused it on race as a priority area. It highlights examples of race microaggressions and why they hurt and cause offence. We’re exploring the topic further this evening in a Race Microaggression Workshop with Dr Joan Myers OBE, which will be available to view afterwards if you are unable to attend. 

Cherise Gyimah said: “It’s important to identify and address microaggressions, because if left unchallenged they have the potential to become part of the organisational culture”. 

Nisa Khan commented: "Tackling race microaggressions in pharmacy is a really important step to achieving an anti-racist profession. Having experienced race microaggressions many times in my career so far, I know how isolating it is, and how significant it is to have a conversation about this for those experiencing microaggressions." 

Farzana Mohammed added: “I joined the group to raise awareness on how to recognise when a subtle microaggression has occurred, to make the invisible, visible”. This document provides support to enable people to choose what they want to do when experiencing or witnessing an event.” 

Vivien Yu said: “Throughout my life I have struggled with reacting to and processing microaggressions. As a student pharmacist, it has been liberating to see race advocacy work at the forefront of our profession. I hope that the changes and work I see early on in my career continues to develop." 

Our ABCD group will add new sections to the resource throughout the year, highlighting microaggressions based on age, gender, sexual orientation and disability. Want to help? Join our ABCD group. 

Find out more about microaggressions