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The Micropedia of Microaggressions Launches to Shed Light on a Subtle but Commonly Experienced Form of Discrimination

December 07, 2021

The vetted encyclopedia is designed to highlight the pervasiveness and harm of microaggressions with tips to help change behaviours

Toronto, Ontario—(Newsfile Corp. - December 7, 2021) - The Micropedia of Microaggressions launched today to equip Canadians with an understanding of one of the most common forms of discrimination—microaggressions—and to support training on equity, diversity and inclusion.

The comprehensive tool was co-created with a community of Canada's diversity advocacy groups to identify microaggressions, understand their harmful impact, and give steps to unlearn behaviours.

From asking someone, "Where are you really from? (external link, opens in new window) " to refusing to learn how to pronounce a co-worker's name, they are the everyday, subtle put-downs, assumptions and comments that, regardless of intentions, are hurtful, insulting and damaging. Research has shown that while less obvious than overt forms of discrimination, microaggressions take a significant toll on mental and physical health.

Microaggressions can take many forms and are part of the ongoing experience of discrimination many individuals experience regularly. A high rate of microaggression happens daily and the impact is extremely harmful. Here are just a few facts:

  • 60% of Indigenous Peoples report feeling emotionally unsafe at work.
  • 1 in 4 sexual minority people have experienced unwanted sexual attention while at work, the most common behaviour after inappropriate sexual jokes.
  • More than half of those identifying as Black in the GTA say Canada is no better than the U.S. when it comes to anti-Black racism.
  • University graduates with severe disabilities on average have worse employment outcomes than high school dropouts.
  • Only 32% of women believe Canadian workplaces treat men and women equally.
  • 60% of Americans have witnessed or potentially witnessed microaggression in the workplace.

"Unlike overt anti-Black racism, microaggressions are more subtle. Often, they are harder to 'prove' and we second guess ourselves, adding to the negative effects," says Nadine Spencer, Acting CEO of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA).

"Microaggressions are part of the daily experience of many women, non-binary, Black, racialized and Indigenous people. They also affect persons with disabilities, as well as those in the LGBTQ2S+ community. It can be exhausting to decide what to call out and when or how to explain why something is harmful. This is especially true when comments may be the result of ignorance rather than malice. This resource explains the harm a person might unknowingly cause and includes real-life examples. We hope that it will help individuals to become more aware of bias, stereotypes, and offensive comments and behaviours."

Toronto-based agency Zulu Alpha Kilo designed and developed the online Micropedia tool. Content co-creators included the BBPA, the Canadian Congress on Diversity and Workplace Equity, Pride at Work Canada, and Ryerson University's Diversity Institute. Also consulted were many individuals who have experienced microaggressions.

Whether you're facing microaggressions and need a tool to share with others or are committed to being an ally and combating them, the collaborators hope this resource will spark necessary conversations and action.

"Our research and our work with organizations such as the BBPA has shown just how damaging microaggressions can be," said Wendy Cukier, Founder of the Diversity Institute. "Not only can they have negative mental health impacts, but research from the Wellesley Institute shows physical damage as well. At the same time, we know that organizations trying to create more inclusive work environments often struggle with balancing the need to address microaggressions with the concern that they do not place an undue burden or 'emotional tax' on those on the receiving end. The Micropedia tool may be useful in supporting the identification and understanding of the subtle and very harmful form of discrimination."

The Micropedia is looking for more organizations and individuals to join the community and continue adding entries to the resource. To contribute to the project, please visit (external link, opens in new window) .

About the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA):

Founded in 1983, the BBPA is a charitable organization whose mission is to advance Canada's Black community by facilitating the delivery of programs that support business and professional excellence, higher education, and economic development. Along with the BBPA National Scholarships, the BBPA presents the Annual Harry Jerome Awards, the National Black Business Convention (NBBPC), and workshops and programs at the BBPA Centre of Excellence.

About the Diversity Institute:

The Diversity Institute conducts and coordinates multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to address the needs of diverse Canadians, the changing nature of skills and competencies, and the policies, processes and tools that advance economic inclusion and success. Our action-oriented, evidence-based approach is advancing knowledge of the complex barriers faced by underrepresented groups, leading practices to effect change, and producing concrete results. The Diversity Institute is a research lead for the Future Skills Centre.

For more information, or to coordinate an interview:

Richard Rotman
Director, PR and Communications,
BrandEQ Group