Ep 197: Stop Calling It Microaggressions: A Call To Action To Intercept Subtle Acts Of Exclusion (with Dr. Tiffany Jana)

by Joan Garry

It is a misnomer. There is nothing ‘micro’ about microaggression. What is the real meaning of microaggression, what should it truly be called, and how can a leader recognize and take action to tackle it? Dr. Tiffany Jana shares her insights, why she has stopped using the word ‘crazy’, and what organizations can do to create a culture of awareness.


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In this conversation, we call for a name change!

There is a special kind of subtle insult, often conveyed with well-meaning intent, to make someone feel seen but that unwittingly has the opposite effect. It’s called microaggression. But, that word is misleading. Microaggressions are anything but “micro”. They often don’t feel overtly “aggressive” to the perpetrator or receiver. Yet, the impact on those treated as “other” is physical and psychological. And it is a rampant threat that thrives everywhere humans live and work.

Dr. Tiffany Jana, an expert in DEI and co-author of Subtle Acts Of Exclusion, lays fresh ground for frank conversation about microaggressions. She aims to open our awareness and our potential contribution to resolving it. She helps us to see how to recognize, name, and handle microaggression because she sees a real and palpable opportunity to create organizations that ‘weave kindness into culture’ at every level. 

We are all striving to be better stewards of an inclusive future for all as nonprofit leaders. Having open dialogue with vulnerability and humility is a step towards that goal. That is why this conversation with Dr. Jana is so immediately relevant and useful.

What can a leader do when they experience microaggression? What should they do when they observe it? And perhaps, most importantly, how can an organization successfully adopt accountability into a culture that recognizes and handles microaggression?

These are some of the questions that Dr. Jana helps to unpack in this episode. Any leader who says they believe in a culture of inclusion and belonging and are committed to building and nurturing it in their organization will find this conversation spot on!

Tune in to learn:

  • What are microaggressions?
  • When should a leader ‘call out’ vs. ‘call in’ an act of microaggression? 
  • Joan shares a powerful personal story of an intended compliment that revealed an unconscious bias through a microaggression and how she reacted.
  • What can organizations do to honor their diverse workforce by ‘weaving kindness into their culture’?

About Dr. Tiffany Jana:

Dr. Tiffany Jana is a highly respected and influential diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant, speaker, and author. As a nonbinary person, they are a trailblazer in the DEI field, advocating for the rights and inclusion of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity, race, sexuality, or other identities.

Dr. Jana’s expertise in DEI is extensive, having worked with a wide range of organizations to create more inclusive workplaces and communities. They are known for their intersectional approach, which recognizes and addresses how different forms of oppression intersect, ensuring that their work is inclusive of all individuals and communities.

As an author, Dr. Jana has written several groundbreaking books on DEI, including “Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences” and “Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions”. They are also a highly sought-after speaker, having given keynote addresses and presentations at conferences and events around the world.

In recognition of their contributions to the field of DEI, Dr. Jana has received numerous awards and honors, including being named one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers by Inc. Magazine and one of the Most Influential People in Business by Virginia Business Magazine. They continue to be a powerful force for change, inspiring others to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces and communities.