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20th February 2024

Microaggressions: insights from the Law Society’s training session

Liz Cooper
Liz Cooper

Last week, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee screened the Law Society’s training session on ‘Workplace Culture – Understanding and managing microaggressions’. The panel (representing gender, race, disability and LGBTQ+) were asked three questions:

  • What is a microaggression?
  • What impact does a microaggression have?
  • What advice does the panel give to witnesses of a microaggression?

What is a microaggression?

The panel agreed that a microaggression is a comment that, whilst not out rightly offensive, can present as a seemingly kind remark, which points out a difference that separates the recipient from the ‘norm’ - someone that requires special treatment, etc.

What impact does a microaggression have?

On their own, microaggressive comments may not cause insult. However, over time they can cause the recipient to be exhausted, knock confidence and create a toxic work environment.

What was particularly notable about the training was that many (if not all) microaggressions are seemingly innocuous comments or questions which are not meant to be judgmental or rude, but on reflection overstep from friendly interest into placing a need on the recipient to provide personal information that they may not feel comfortable with.

What advice does the panel give to witnesses of microaggressions?

Following the screening, we focused on how we should proactively address incidents of microaggression in the workplace. 

We emphasised the importance of fostering awareness among those who make such comments - encouraging them to think about what they are saying, what they may be implying and what information they are expecting to receive. Ultimately, how to take ownership of their remark rather than expecting the recipient to confront them.

About Hunters’ EDI Committee

Hunters' Committee recently organised a seminar with Barbara Mills KC and a book club review of Alexandra Wilson's ‘In black and white’ for Black History Month, held bake sales and an internal seminar regarding unconscious bias and is currently planning a series on Mental Health. We have also implemented an EDI policy as per our web page [here].