In thinking about the challenges of improving inclusion within an organization, I’ve been trying to thinking about how to deal with the issue of micro-aggressions that under represented communities face every day.
This example from the book Brotopia by Emily Chang reinforced this point with me. This excerpt was part of a larger story about the behavior of trolls in online communities, and in this case, specific to Riot Games, which was the creator of an online game called League of Legends.
If you think most online abuse is hurled by a small group of maladapted trolls, you’re wrong. Riot found that persistently negative players were only responsible for roughly 13 percent of the game’s bad behavior. The other 87 percent was coming from players whose presence, most of the time, seemed to be generally inoffensive or even positive. These gamers were lashing out only occasionally, in isolated incidents—but their outbursts often snowballed through the community.
This is a key part of the bigger challenge of improving inclusion for under represented groups within any organization. There very well may be a group of people that are consistent offenders when it comes to offensive comments and behavior. In some respects, this is the easiest part of the problem to solve.
What companies need to understand is that it’s the ‘other 87 percent’ that has to be dealt with. It’s the occasional use of hurtful, offensive language. It’s the ‘casual’ use of inappropriate terms, phrases, words that people throw around out of habit, not out of spite or intention to cause harm. Think of these one off’s from the perspective of those on the receiving end. Now multiply that across different interactions throughout a workday as they move from meeting to meeting, with one or two inappropriate and damaging words and phrases being tossed out over the course of multiple interactions.
There is a huge amount of retraining and education that needs to happen across society, and certainly within companies that genuinely value inclusion as a key value.
A topic for further exploration, and I hope to find good examples of where this is being done well.