Diversity Means More: Microaggressions

January 11, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership, ,

“I had a patient ask me what school I went to. I responded, then she wanted to know if it was in Michigan. Where was I from? Milford, I responded. No, where are you FROM? I am an adoptee from South Korean, my parents are white. ‘You don’t look Korean or sound Korean.’ These are the microaggressions I live with EVERY DAY working at the university.”

– Submission from anonymous employee

“I have experienced blatant racism and discrimination based on my race and immigration status. It is difficult navigating this current climate when police brutality is so rampant. It is a trigger for me; however, I am currently in therapy.”

– Submission from anonymous employee

“We must invest in training and understanding of implicit bias, privilege and the experiences of BIPOC to create change in our country. Within the hospital, acknowledging how we treat and perceive black employees and patients and how our care and relationships are influenced by race.”

– Submission from anonymous employee

These submissions are just a few of many that share the experiences and the effects that microaggressions have on the day-to-day life of colleagues at Michigan Medicine.

Microaggressions are comments or actions that negatively target a marginalized group of people. They serve as a form of discrimination, and may occur accidentally or intentionally. Unfortunately, such actions — along with unconscious biases and discrimination — occur every day to a large portion of the population.

Because of this, it is essential that team members learn ways they can help create the safe spaces that are needed to adequately support underrepresented staff and colleagues at Michigan Medicine.

Take action

Educate yourself

You can help create such safe spaces by becoming proactive in your personal and professional life. Fortunately, Michigan Medicine offers many virtual opportunities to educate yourself on diversity, equity and inclusion. Both The Office for Health Equity and Inclusion and Organizational Learning have various educational tools available on their respective websites.

  • DEI the Basics: This online module provides an introductory look at the DEI initiative at U-M and helps clearly define what we mean by “diversity, equity and inclusion” and takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Discussion guides are available for participants and facilitators working in small groups or huddles.
  • DEI Learning Model:  This series of 25 short videos offers a unique, micro-learning approach to diversity, equity and inclusion education. The videos were created by and feature Dr. Steve Robbins, a nationally recognized trainer and consultant on diversity and inclusion. Dr. Robbins was a keynote speaker during the university’s DEI Summit in 2016. Each video is less than three minutes long and the series includes titles such as, “Defining Diversity,” “Comfort Zones” and “Being Aware of Being Unfair.” The videos have been organized to align with the new Lifelong Learning model to help address the specific goals of the university’s DEI initiative. You can watch these videos on your own or with your team using the accompanying conversation cards.
  • The Office for Health Equity and Inclusion (OHEI) holds regular public Bias in Medicine Training and Bystander Intervention sessions, and all sessions can be found on the OHEI events page.

Safe spaces, safe places

There are a number of groups and resources available to you where you can be yourself and help create a better climate at Michigan Medicine:

  • OHEI holds regular Community Conversations. These sessions are not recorded and are usually topic-based and held in response to current cultural climate. All sessions are listed on the OHEI events page.
  • Michigan Medicine Resource Groups serve as a mechanism for feedback to Michigan Medicine leadership on how to foster inclusion and collaboration. Resource group membership is open to all Michigan Medicine faculty, staff, students, friends and allies. Group membership is voluntary and the member-led group catalyzes efforts to drive innovation and make workplace culture more inclusive, engaged, productive and aligned to support strategic goals. Upcoming meetings are listed HERE.

Reach out for help

Finally, if you feel the need to reach out for support based on your experiences at Michigan Medicine, the following resources are available to you:

  • The Office for Counseling and Workplace Resilience: This team provides free counseling, stress consults and information to all Michigan Medicine faculty and staff.
  • Michigan Medicine Staff Ombuds: This office serves as an independent, confidential, neutral third party that assists staff and administrators in resolving problems, concerns and complaints in informal ways.
  • Office for Institutional Equity (OIE): OIE responds to individual concerns of discrimination and discriminatory harassment, including but not limited to sexual misconduct, and provides guidance regarding broader institutional issues related to race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status. 

    OIE also provides guidance regarding the university’s responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar laws, including information for individuals with disabilities who wish to seek accommodations or raise accessibility concerns. Visit www.hr.umich.edu/oie, call 734-763-0235 or email institutional.equity@umich.edu

To highlight the value of diversity in the workplace, in health care and in the community, you are encouraged to share your unique thoughts and feelings in an effort to further educate Michigan Medicine on the life and workplace experiences of individuals who work, learn and receive care within the organization.

Diversity Means More submissions are open to all, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. All submissions are and will remain anonymous, and your unedited soundbites will be shared broadly across social media and digital platforms. Click here to submit your stories, experience, thoughts and sentiments.