The panel talk about microaggressions: what they are; how to identify them; how to tackle them; and their personal experiences.

375 – Blended: ‘Did They Just Say That?’ The Truth About Microaggression

Welcome back to Blended! It’s episode 38, we are once again joined by a fresh new panel of inspirational professionals, and today, we’re talking about microaggression.

It’s a term you’re sure to have heard. First used around 1970 by Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Chester Pierce, it initially described the regular insults and dismissals he witnessed, from non-black people towards the black community. But professors and social scientists have gone on to examine the concept more closely and expand our understanding of microaggressions, detailing how they also impact religious groups, gender identities, those who are living with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community.

So it’s really an important part of the conversations we need to have around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Microaggressions are a part of exclusionary practices and behaviors, but they can often fly under the radar, especially in the workplace.

Today, our guests will be talking about what microaggressions actually are; sharing their personal experiences; reflecting on how to identify them; and, most importantly, how to tackle them.




[01.27] Introductions to our Blended panelists.

  • Sharon – Supplier Diversity Director at Radian
  • Cathy – Vice President of Women’s Leadership and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at American Bankers Association
  • Ted – Principal at Firmament
  • David – Assistant Vice President of Membership & Marketing at IANA
  • Clarecia – Professor of International Business at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology

“We’ve been so busy doing our jobs, we’ve forgotten that underneath it all, we’re people… Our differences are our strengths. If we bring all of our best to the table, that’s where the best of life and business is going to happen, but you have to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable.” David

[06.52] The group discusses what microaggression means; the difference between microaggression, harassment, bullying, and discrimination; and the importance of allyship.

“It’s a subtle attack on a person, who they are, what they bring to the table… I call it front-stabbing, not back-stabbing!” Clarecia

  • Assumptions and cultural norms
  • Overstepping boundaries
  • Poor leadership
  • Insecurity
  • Subconscious or unconscious bias
  • Intent
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Two-sided conversations
  • Building relationships
  • Keeping people small
  • Perceptions and mistruths that are built into our cultures
  • Unlearning lessons
  • Building resilience
  • Allyship
  • Speaking up
  • Education
  • What you wear/how you look

“It’s over-stepping that personal boundary… it’s more societal macroaggression because we all come with our own dialogues that we project out.” David

“It’s a subtle, sometimes almost subconscious, reaction.” Ted

[50.17] The panel reflects on what microaggressions can look like; making underrepresented communities responsible for change; and whether a lack of diversity in workplaces is in itself a microaggression.

“Everyone needs to be more conscious of the words they use. Language is a very powerful thing.” David

  • Verbal and non-verbal
  • Whispering, yawning and eye-rolling
  • Micro-invalidation, micro-assault, micro-insult
  • Creating inclusive ecosystems
  • Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Making people feel comfortable with their bias
  • Responsibility for creating change
  • Ignorance


[01.04.00] The group discussed ideas and solutions for tackling microaggression and creating more inclusive, supportive workplaces.

“Is it a moment, or a movement?” Sharon

  • How workplaces are shifting
  • Bringing your authentic self to work
  • Communicating what you need
  • Normalizing difference
  • HR and ongoing learning
  • Changing the way we have conversations
  • Confusing microaggression for a compliment, eg. you sound great, for someone that comes from x; you look great, for your age
  • Self-awareness
  • “No offense, but….”
  • Open-mindedness
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Honesty
  • Be curious, not judgemental
  • Listen
  • Create safe spaces

“Let’s change the way we have conversations so we’re getting to know the individual.” Cathy

[1.27.36] The group summed up their thoughts from today’s discussion.

“Have a willingness to be sincere and open, be open to making mistakes and learning from them. Having a healthy, constructive attitude can go so far. ” Ted




You can connect with Sharon, David, Clarecia, Ted, and Cathy over on LinkedIn.

If you want to hear more from Sharon, listen to 344: Women In Supply Chain™, Sharon Manker. For other inspirational conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, why not check out 252: Blended – Hiding in Plain Sight: The Reality of Workplace Discrimination or 165: Blended – The Gender Equation.

Check out our other podcasts HERE.

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