How to deal with marginalization at work, according to one author

How to deal with marginalization at work, according to one author

  • Exclusion is one of the most common indicators of a toxic workplace, according to MIT research.
  • Being marginalized at work can affect employee productivity and mental health.
  • Alan Henry, author of a new book, told Insider how to deal with marginalization at work.

Exclusive or non-inclusive language, actions or attitudes are the most common indicators of a toxic workplace, according to an analysis of 1.4 million employee reviews by MIT professor Donald Sull.

This can range from microaggressions against colleagues of a minority race, gender or sexual identity to overt racism or sexism in the workplace.

Excluding behavior can be difficult to respond to as a minority worker. Fighting back can lead to being branded as aggressive. Going to superiors does not always bring results if attitudes are normalized within a work culture.

Alan Henry, author of the new book “Seen, Heard, and Paid,” told Insider that these behaviors can affect the productivity and mental health of minority workers. Being marginalized at work can also hamper career progression, leading to fewer opportunities and wages.

Henry is currently a senior editor at Wired and is an expert in workplace productivity. Previously, he was editor of Smarter Living at The New York Times and editor-in-chief of Lifehacker productivity and lifestyle blog.

He detailed his key advice for dealing with microaggression and discrimination in the workplace.

Turn microaggressions into coworkers

Microaggressions are a type of indirect or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group.

These assaults can be difficult to deal with in the workplace because they are not entirely discriminatory and often do not seem sufficient to create a formal complaint.

About 61% of U.S. workers have seen or been subjected to workplace discrimination based on age, race, gender or sexual identity, according to a 2019 Glassdoor survey.

Henry said the best way to handle these comments is to return them to the speaker.

“Just turning around and saying – ‘Well, what did you mean by that? – it’s so powerful,” he said.

“Especially when someone is in a group situation and they feel like they’re talking to someone they think will ‘catch the joke’ – if you turn to them and press the question, alarms go off in your head. and they will run away very quickly.”

“It has never failed me,” he added.

Keeping a record of offensive comments or actions can also show a pattern of behavior.

“You want to keep track of how often things like that happen, because eventually if you talk to your manager about it, it’s more about the data you can present to them,” Henry said.

Take control of your schedule

Controlling who you work with or what you work with can improve your productivity and protect your mental health.

Remote work can make managing your time easier and provide an opportunity to escape any microaggressions that happen in the office.

“When I was working remotely, I had more control over my schedule,” Henry said.

He added, “I’ve had more opportunities to escape meetings or situations where I might be dealing with people I didn’t necessarily want to see or people who questioned my abilities.”

Henry said this benefit of remote work “tends to reach the most privileged people in the workspace.”

“Once the benefits reach marginalized people, it can be harder for them to actually do the work with the people they know would like to work.”

Time blocking, a time management method that involves blocking out a certain amount of time in a day to complete specific tasks, can also help marginalized workers protect their energy.

“It’s just about choosing one or two things that are really powerful for you,” Henry said. “If they work, then defend them at all costs.”

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