Detecting Racial Microaggression in our society
Australia is made up a large number of ethnic groups – having come to live in Australia from all over the world. In sucha diverse scenario – there are bound to be minority groups and if the instruments governing society are not well-oiled and balanced, some minority groups can feel neglected, thus at detriment compared to the rest of population. One instance of such detriment can be – being at the receiving end of racial discrimination or aggression by minorities at the hands of others. The University of South Australia is conducting a research – to study if Australian population of Asian ethnicity (explained below) is at any disadvantage when it comes to racial discrimination or aggression.

Ayesha Hanif, who moved to Australia in 2016 with her family and decided to study further in research is working on that project. Ayesha holds a Master’s in Business Administration and has worked as a professional for some years in her country of origin,

Ayesha’s research focuses on “examining the work experiences of people of Asian ethnicity in Australia”. Asian ethnicity as relevant for the project covers people who were born or has a parent born in any of these countries: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

When asked what is the purpose of the research project?
Ayesh Hanif says:

“Research shows that Asians in Australia are more disadvantaged compared to other people. They are more likely to face discrimination and racism compared to other ethnic groups. Discrimination is a serious issue not only in Australia but also in many other western countries.

Research focusing on discrimination in the workplace has shown that the most common and persistent discriminatory behaviours are racial microaggressions. What are racial microaggressions!!! Racial microaggressions are subtle intentional or unintentional negative acts towards people in the minority. These racial microaggressions occur more commonly in the workplace compared to overt or old fashioned racial discrimination.

People coming from an Asian ethnic background face many challenges when they migrate to Australia. They speak a different language; they have different cultural background; they also lack social support because they have left their families, relatives, and other close acquaintances back in their original countries. And on the top, if they face the challenge of racial microaggression in their workplace. Then the pertinent question is – What will happen to the behaviours of Asian employees?

 According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Asians make up approximately 10.3% of the Australian population. I am interested in studying the work experiences of employees from Asian ethnicity in Australia.”

What sort of experiences of your target audiences are you focusing on for your research?

“My research will find out the impact of racial microaggression on the withdrawal behaviours of Asian employees in Australia. I am focusing on both physical and psychological withdrawal behaviours”, says Ayesha.

Symptoms of psychological withdrawal in a worker can be detected through their decreased work engagement levels and increased workplace loneliness. And likewaise physical withdrawal symptoms can be found “through increased turnover intentions, absenteeism and job search behaviours”.

How has the issue interested you?

“Being an Asian migrant myself I felt it is very important to understand the issue of microaggressions and its impact. I want organisations to recognize and understand the problem. I want organisations to know that if they do not control this problem it will create issues in the long run”, Ayesh asserts.

Australia is a diverse country; people from different ethnic groups live here in Australia. Every year Australia welcomes people who come to call Australia home and live here for goo. In turn, they substantially contribute to the growing Australian economy. Asians are one of the biggest and growing ethnic groups in Australia. Thus their sound physical and psychological well-being, like all other Australians, becomes a pre-requisite if we want to have a good, healthy and coherent society.

If you want to participate in the study, send an email to:

-R. VenuGopal

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