Anyone who’s been following the news about the campus turmoil across the U.S. in recent weeks has probably heard of “microaggressions”—the casual, everyday slights and insults that make clear that racial bias and sex discrimination haven’t gone away, they’ve just gone underground.
Take asking someone who looks Asian where they’re “really from” after they’ve said they were born and raised in New Jersey: That’s a microaggression. So is a “Mexican-themed” frat party featuring sombreros and false moustaches, or expressing surprise that a new acquaintance from a different ethnic background is so fluent in English.
Of course, on a college campus, some of this can be chalked up to adolescent tactlessness. Who didn’t say some pretty dumb stuff when they were 19 or 20? But to the degree that microaggressions truly reflect stubborn underlying prejudices, managers need to take note. Today’s students are tomorrow’s hires or your company’s next crop of interns, and they’re much more sensitized to this than their older brothers and sisters were.
To read the full article by Anne Fisher, visit Fortune Magazine.