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Promoting Equity in Organizations

I. Promoting Equity in Organizations

This section includes recent articles (in reverse chronological order) on a range of topics: harassment; bystanders; micro-inequities, micro-aggressions, and micro-affirmations; and mentoring.

1. Harassment

2. Bystanders 

In the articles below, the term “bystander” is used for people who observe or come to know about the behavior of others (whether unacceptable or exemplary behavior), but who are not knowingly engaged in planning or executing that behavior.

Many bystanders hesitate to act—for many different reasons discussed in these articles. Some reasons are helpful and responsible, but many bystanders need and want safe, accessible, and credible support before they can and will act.

Micro-inequities: The term “micro-inequities” is an extension of Professor Chester Pierce’s original 1970 work on racist micro-aggressions—everyday, subtle, intentional or unintentional interactions or behaviors that are perceived to communicate bias and/or hostility.  In 1973, Mary Rowe’s original definition of micro-inequities was: “apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be ‘different.’” Her definition was later expanded to include a yet-wider set of all micro-events whose effects are perceived to be unfair, whether or not “aggressive.”

Micro-affirmations: Rowe defined this term in 1973 as“apparently small acts, which are often ephemeral and hard-to-see, events that are public and private, often unconscious but very effective, which occur wherever people wish to help others to succeed.”

4. Mentoring


II. Promoting Equity in Higher Education

The older articles below (1977-1989, in reverse chronological order) discuss the importance of individuals and their one-on-one relationships for changing a culture to make it more inclusive. These ideas build on the concept of supportive individual relationships functioning within intentional institutional frameworks (for recruiting, mentoring, affinity groups, conflict management, and Board management).

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III. Promoting Health-Related Equity in the Workplace

This section contains several articles from the 1980s that address health-related equity issues, which call for continuous ethical analysis, strategic planning, extensive human resources expertise—and sometimes major, unexpected additional resources. Issues like the HIV/AIDS pandemic and genetic testing involve extraordinary safety concerns, privacy concerns, and multiple dilemmas about discrimination and fairness in the workplace.

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  • Mary Rowe

    Adjunct Professor, Work and Organization Studies

    MIT Sloan School of Management

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    Cambridge, MA 02142

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    Phone Number (617) 253-5902

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    (617) 715-5675
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