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THE MICROPEDIA OF MICROAGGRESSIONS

ZULU ALPHA KILO, Toronto / BLACK BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, ET AL. / 2022

Awards:

Silver Cannes Lions
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Overview

Credits

Overview

Why is this work relevant for Social & Influencer?

Microaggressions happen every day and everyone is capable of giving or receiving them. While they seem like a small issue, their harmful effects are significant. Microaggressions are typically studied in academic settings or discussed on social media through lived experiences. Discussion and research surrounding them tends to focus on one marginalized group/experience. This project is the first of its kind bringing the issue of microaggressions to society at large. Not only does it highlight the intersectionality of microaggressions, it unpacks the harmful effect of them in an accessible, non-judgemental way. By promoting self-awareness, this tool will create real societal change.

Background

Not all acts of bias are easy to see or identify. Some of them are so subtle, they’re only felt. Those seemingly harmless, and often unintentional, interactions are known as microaggressions, and they can have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of those on the receiving end.

Canada’s largest Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) organizations believed self-awareness was the first step in creating change. So, The Black Business and Professional Association, the Canadian Congress on Inclusive Diversity & Workplace Equity, Pride at Work Canada, and Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute joined forces to create a tool for change.

Describe the creative idea

While less obvious than overt forms of discrimination, research shows microaggressions can still cause lasting mental and emotional harm. Canada’s leading DEI groups realized that change would only come through self-awareness. So together, they created The Micropedia, the world’s first encyclopedia of microaggressions. This judgement-free and accessible tool detailed the harmful impact of microaggressions through definitions, resources and real-world examples from news, media and pop culture. In addition to entries, it featured a tips section promoting behavior change through actionable steps. Like other community-based wikis, entries were collected via user submissions.

Describe the strategy

As Canada’s leading DEI organizations, every partner behind this initiative pulled from their own research on diversity and inclusion around the barriers faced by underrepresented groups in Canada. Through their research, they understood that people impacted by microaggressions often find the experience confusing or invalidating, questioning whether it even happened or if they should say anything at all. At the same time, almost everyone will make a form of microaggression without realizing it and can often feel defensive about being “called out”.

Knowing how nuanced and difficult this issue is, it was important to ensure we approached this tool from a place of unbiased understanding. That meant working diligently to ensure that everyone can learn from the tool without feeling targeted or shamed. We understood that unlearning unconscious bias and microaggressions isn’t about perfection but about a willingness to act, change, and do better.

Describe the execution

The Micropedia is a judgement-free online tool that provides easy-to-digest information where people can unlearn their unconscious bias and make immediate changes in their daily interactions.

Entries span nine categories representing common groups and communities facing this issue. Each entry defines the harmful impact of the microaggression while providing resources and real-world examples from news, media, and pop culture. A tips section promotes behaviour change through actionable steps whether a person is witnessing, receiving or giving the microaggression. Like other community-based wikis, entries are collected via user submissions.

The tool was promoted organically through partner networks and continues to receive submissions. That will help grow The Micropedia into a robust database of offensive terms and definitions and how to address them. By raising self-awareness of these everyday interactions, The Micropedia will create safer workplaces, institutions, schools, social settings and have lasting societal impact.

List the results

The success of The Micropedia demonstrated the appetite for this kind of resource. With no paid promotion, the site has engaged users from over 115 countries and received over double the original number of entries in user submissions.

Around the world, corporations, institutions, and organizations are using The Micropedia as a DEI resource. This tool can now be found on resource pages for universities, hospital networks and medical schools, government bodies and organizations, media companies, global corporations and businesses globally. The Micropedia will even be part of the Government of Canada’s federal 50-30 Challenge – a program which seeks to accelerate diversity efforts in workplaces nationwide.

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