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Exclusionary behaviours – An invisible barrier to women in the workplace

Most of you have heard of microaggressions and shrugged it off. That is because you cannot call something aggressive which was not meant to be aggressive…

And therein lies our biggest problem in the workplace. The men we work with, we know are fundamentally nice people. Some maybe arrogant, others impatient, introverted, and extroverted and many more.  Apart from the narcissistic type, the rest seem to be generally decent humans. So, exclusionary actions by these decent human beings, make us feel that we aren’t a part of the team. But because they didn’t mean to do it, we tend to let it go.


This is the thinking that allows all men and corporate policies to get away with exclusionary behaviour. These are also called micro-aggressions i.e., indirect and subtle acts of disrespect, bias & prejudice. It’s important for women in the workplace to recognize it for what it is. Otherwise, we can’t find a solution.  Acknowledge the issues and proactively focus on solving them. This is the best way to overcome gender barriers.


We must accept that these unchecked microaggressions at the workplace are a mental minefield for women. As per McKinsey “Women who experience microaggressions—and self-shield to deflect them—are three times more likely to think about quitting their jobs and four times more likely to almost always be burned out. By leaving microaggressions unchecked, companies miss out on everything women have to offer and risk losing talented employees.”

Here are a few steps to navigate this mental minefield that can help ease the situation for yourself and others:

  • Perspective taking - Ask the other person to see it from your perspective. This has shown promising results in reducing bias.

  • Support and seek guidance – Connect, discuss, and ask for guidance, or give support to others.

  • Seek Mentoring support – Seek the support of a seasoned mentor who is skilled at dealing with workplace bias.


Stay tuned and follow us to learn more about Women in Leadership and new programs that address issues ranging from glass ceilings, gender bias, work-life balance and other DEI-relevant topics. Get in touch with us at

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