Ogilvy Health UK and NABS launch campaign against microaggressions

Microaggression book 3-1

Microaggressions are common in the UK workplace and across the marketing industry, especially involving employees from minority ethnic communities.

Tackling microaggressions

Microaggressions refer to verbal, behavioural or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate derogatory or negative attitudes toward a stigmatised or culturally marginalised group.

Around 51% of employees from these communities in the UK report experiencing them on a regular basis, a higher percentage than the USA or Canada.

A growing body of research reveals that this covert discrimination has distinct lasting negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of those at the receiving end, said Ogilvy.

The impact of microaggressions causes increased rates of depression, trauma, anxiety, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

To raise awareness of the issue, Ogilvy Health UK has partnered with NABS to create Throwaway Comments, a comprehensive collection of real-life stories of microaggressions in the workplace.

The book will help establish understanding and empathy around the issues, which is key to creating more inclusive workplaces.

Microaggression book 1
Mind yourself: New campaign highlights impact of throwaway comments.

A total of 35 anonymised stories have been sensitively curated and brought to life by a diverse set of illustrators from within the communities most likely to be subjected to microaggressions.

The book, along with a set of indestructible posters, is being shared across the industry.

Printed on tear-proof paper, the posters are screwed up into tight balls and open up to show the lasting impact that throwaway comments have.

Microaggression book 2
Microaggressions: new book will help keep employees aware.

The book has won two gold and two silver awards at last week’s LIA Awards.

“Microaggressions are insidious across every industry”, said Caroline Howe, CEO Ogilvy Health.

“They eat away at self-esteem and confidence.

“At Ogilvy we’re dedicated to integrating diversity, equity and inclusion into the fabric of our business. We recognise the damage of microaggressions and are using creativity to address the challenges of exclusion.

“By communicating the impact of microaggressions in a compelling and innovative way we hope to stoke debate and challenge this behaviour.”

Sue Todd, CEO at NABS, said: “This book is both a reckoning and a relief. The stories are a call to action and a testament to strength.

“Sharing experiences is a critical tool for driving change and we’re delighted to partner with Ogilvy to share these simple but powerful stories.

“Let us collectively dismantle the barriers that divide us to forge a more inclusive and compassionate future for our industry community.” .

“Microaggressions have a lasting impact. We know this from people calling the NABS Advice line for support after their mental wellness has been damaged by hurtful comments.

“There is no ‘throwaway’ remark because it can take a long time to heal after being on the receiving end of one.”

It is vital to share the stories of people who have suffered microaggressions. In doing so, we can build empathy and understanding.

It is from that basis that we can learn from our mistakes to build a more inclusive industry, built on kindness.”Uzma Afridi, Principal Business Psychologist at NABS and former Vice Chair at The Association for Business Psychology.