Why Back Handed Compliments Can Be a Covert Form of Discrimination [Research Breakdown]

There’s a lot of evidence to show that discrimination of all kinds exists in organisations.

Find out about a covert form of prejudice that is SO subtle that when you observe it actually looks like a compliment.

Here are some key messages from this episode:

  • The difference between prejudice and discrimination
  • How compliments can be used to mask prejudice
  • How ineffective employee resource groups can fuel harmful stereotypes and much much more

Play the episode for more.

Here are some key takeaways from this episode:

The difference between prejudice and discrimination

“Prejudice, the clue is in the name. pre judge, in this context it refers to preconceived notions about people based on their social identity or membership of a particular group. It’s what someone thinks. Discrimination is prejudice in action. When people are treated unfairly because of the prejudice.”

Qualified Compliments

“As an individual, being told that you are smart, hardworking or talented will naturally feel like a compliment. Your opinion may change if the compliment is then qualified by a negative remark about a group that you belong to.”

Avoiding Employee Resource Groups

“This matters for your employee resource group because if you don’t have a compelling purpose guiding your resource group, and if you’re not seen to be pursuing it. Then there’s a good chance that potential members won’t want to get involved.”

Here are some resources so you can go deeper: 

Professor Koen Van Lear

Dr Maddy Janssens

Ethnic minority professionals’ experiences with subtle discrimination in the workplace

Check out these related episodes of the show.

Covert Discrimination Part 1: Garlic Bread & The Normalising Gaze

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