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Subtle Acts of Exclusion by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran

Book Club Discussion

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The Book

Of the book, Seth Godin says, “This is an unreasonable manifesto. It’s unreasonable because it challenges us to take responsibility, to be kind, to dig in, and to change the invisible corners of our culture. We’ve got work to do. Unreasonable is precisely what we need.”

Our workplaces and society are growing more diverse, but are we supporting inclusive cultures? While overt racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination are relatively easy to spot, we cannot neglect the subtler everyday actions that normalize exclusion. Many have heard the term microaggression, but not everyone fully understands what they are or how to recognize them and stop them from happening.

Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran offer a clearer, more accessible term: subtle acts of exclusion (SAEs) to emphasize the purpose and effects of these actions. After all, people generally aren’t trying to be malicious—usually they’re cluelessly trying to say something nice, learn more about a person, be funny, or build closeness. But whether in the form of exaggerated stereotypes, backhanded compliments, unfounded assumptions, or objectification, SAEs are damaging to our coworkers, friends, and acquaintances.

The authors provide simple and clear tools to identify and address such acts, offering scripts and action plans. Knowing how to have these conversations in an open-minded, honest way will help us build trust and create stronger workplaces and healthier, happier people and communities.

Tiffany Jana & Michael Baran

Tiffany Jana spearheaded a national network of consultants into the world’s first Certified Benefit Corporation with a diversity and engagement focus. As the Founder of TMI’s Portfolio of companies, Tiffany oversees the development of the firm’s strategies, client relationships, and people. An expert in diversity and inclusion, using metrics to gauge organizational equity and unconscious bias, Tiffany is a strategic advisor on client engagements. Their vision is to help clients optimize their workplace and community environments based on stated values.

Tiffany is the proud mother of three children, a quirky VCU computer science major, a charismatic Harvard economics major, and a musically gifted middle schooler.

Michael Baran is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).  He has been working in the DEI field for over 20 years, researching, writing, speaking, and facilitating in order to build deeper understanding, more equality, and more inclusion. He is a Senior Partner and Digital Solutions Lead at inQUEST Consulting.

Michael has a doctorate in cultural anthropology with a special certificate in cognitive psychology in order to understand the bases for inequality and exclusion. Seeing how our cultures and cognition create spaces that are unfair and unequal opens up a window into seeing how we could do things better. Michael lives on a small flower farm in Maryland with his love Jill, his inspiring and wacky kids Rio, Solomon, Raphael, and Carmelo, and usually some chickens and turkeys, too.

Natalie earned a BA (honors) in Anthropology and Africana Studies from Vassar College; an MS in Global Textile Marketing from Jefferson University; and a PhD in Design Management from the University of Westminster in London. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, John Nixo