It’s Anti-bullying week, but what constitutes bullying in the workplace and do you have a comprehensive policy to deal with it?
Understanding Bullying and Microaggressions.
Bullying is a pervasive issue that can occur in various forms and settings. While there is no legal definition of bullying, we define it as offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting, or an abuse or misuse of power that undermines, humiliates, or injures the recipient.
It can take place physically, verbally, or non-verbally through various channels like email, phone calls, online platforms, or social media. Bullying may occur both at work and outside of work.
If the bullying is targeted towards a person’s protected characteristic, it may also constitute harassment and be considered unlawful. But it’s important to note that legitimate, reasonable, and constructive criticism of a person’s performance or behaviour, as well as reasonable instructions given during employment, do not qualify as bullying.
Microaggressions, also known as micro-incivilities, are subtle forms of discrimination that often go unnoticed. They can be indirect statements, actions, or incidents that discriminate against marginalised groups, such as racial or ethnic minorities. These microaggressions are sometimes referred to as “death by a thousand cuts” due to their cumulative impact.
Microaggressions generally fall into three categories: Micro-assaults: Deliberate insults or gestures towards a marginalised individual or group, often disguised as jokes or harmless teasing. Micro-insults: Unintentionally insensitive remarks or assumptions based on stereotypes. Micro-invalidations: Disregarding or dismissing the feelings and experiences of marginalised individuals or groups.
It’s crucial to understand that serious microaggressions can amount to unlawful harassment, bullying, or discrimination. Even less severe microaggressions can have a negative impact on the health and well-being of the person experiencing them.
By raising awareness and promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity, we can combat bullying and microaggressions to create a safe and supportive environment for all.
If you need to review your policies, we can offer a complimentary HR Audit via our website.