New research shows that one in six vets surveyed (15 percent) have personally experienced discrimination in their veterinary workplace or learning environment this year.
As part of their work to tackle discrimination in the veterinary profession, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is launching new resources on microaggressions. Their posters and blogs are intended to start a new #BigConversation about microaggressions between veterinary professionals and the effect they have on members of the veterinary community.
The statistics from the Spring 2021 Voice of The Veterinary Profession survey also showed that just over one in five (21 percent) have witnessed discrimination and that most incidents of reported discrimination were carried out by colleagues (67 percent).
Microaggressions are comments or actions which negatively target a marginalised group of people. They can be intentional or accidental, but are still a form of discrimination as they make assumptions based on stereotypes.
BVA Junior Vice President Malcolm Morley said: “I am extremely concerned that so many vets are still being subjected to discrimination in the places where they work and study, and it’s more disturbing that many of these incidents are being carried out by colleagues.
“While some of these incidents will certainly have been intentional, it’s also likely that there are many subtle ‘microaggressions’ taking place, where the speaker did not intend the harm they caused. Unfortunately, having good intentions doesn’t always stop us from hurting others, particularly if our comments are just one of a number of similar interactions a person has had to endure.
“When I first read BVA’s Let’s talk about microaggressions’ posters, I could see some comments that would obviously offend, but I did not recognise the hurt that others might cause. I did have to stop and think. I also took time to speak to friends and colleagues from different backgrounds, and I soon realised how important it is to recognise these issues for what they are.
“I learned the importance of considering how even these small things might have a big impact for those who hear them constantly. I hope others will also be prepared to look at these posters with an open mind and reflect on how their actions might affect colleagues.”
To encourage discussion about microaggressions in the profession BVA has launched a suite of posters, designed to make veterinary professionals stop and think about what they say, and to spark conversations about these issues.
The resources were developed with the British Veterinary Ethnicity & Diversity Society, British Veterinary LGBT+, British Veterinary Chronic Illness Support, Vetlife and other expert advisors, many of whom have also provided blogs to help explain why microaggressions matter.
Malcom added: “We can all help by developing our understanding of why our words can be harmful. So, we’re asking you to join our #BigConversation about microaggressions, to help us all consider and evolve our own language.
“Some of these conversations may be difficult but they’re an opportunity for all of us to help ensure veterinary learning and working environments are welcoming and inclusive for everyone.”
BVA is asking veterinary workplaces to try printing and displaying one or more of these posters to help start a #BigConversation about how the whole team can be more mindful of the impact their words can have.
For more information and resources to help improve your veterinary workplace, take a look at the BVA good workplaces hub.