A study conducted by Mental Health First Aid England has unveiled a troubling snapshot of workplace culture and microaggressions in the United Kingdom.

The research, based on responses from 2,000 employees, indicates that nearly one-third of workers (31%) have encountered at least one form of microaggression or discriminatory behaviour from their managers within the past six months.

My Whole Self Day, an initiative spearheaded by MHFA England, aims to catalyse positive changes in workplace culture. The social enterprise is calling on employers to foster environments where individuals feel empowered to bring their complete selves to work, thereby enhancing mental health and overall performance.

The study identifies a range of negative comments and assumptions made by managers, with misspelling or mispronouncing names and exclusionary comments related to age, working patterns, personal life, and physical or mental health ranking among the most prevalent issues.

Disparities Among Employees’ Experiences

The research also highlights stark differences in experiences across demographics. Notably, 66 percent of employees aged 18-34 reported facing exclusionary acts from managers, compared to 38 percent of those aged 45-64. Additionally, 47 percent of White British individuals acknowledged discriminatory behaviour from managers, a figure that rises to 57 percent for Asian or Asian British workers and a staggering 72 percent for Black or Black British employees.

Microaggressions: The impact on Mental Health and Job Satisfaction

The repercussions of such discriminatory behaviour are profound. Almost 1 in 5 respondents admitted that these experiences had a detrimental impact on their mental health, while one in seven considered quitting their jobs as a direct result.

Furthermore, over one in seven employees felt that these microaggressions prevented them from being their authentic selves at work. MHFA England underscores the urgency for employers to create inclusive environments that allow individuals to bring their entire selves to the workplace without fear of judgment.

A Call to Action: My Whole Self Campaign Urges Workplace Transformation

The My Whole Self campaign advocates for inclusive workplace cultures where individuals feel safe sharing aspects of their identity, be it background, sexuality, religion, gender, or mental health. The campaign stresses that fostering such environments is not only a moral imperative but also a business necessity, with diverse teams being proven to yield 60 percent better results, according to Forbes.

Simon Blake, Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid England, emphasises that everyone deserves to feel seen and valued at work, and that equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging are integral to positive mental health and wellbeing.

Dr. Melissa Carr, Director of the World of Work Institute at Henley Business School, adds that a sense of belonging is crucial for supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion, and employers must work towards creating environments that recognise and call out microaggressions and discrimination.

Eliminating microaggressions: The Path to Inclusive Workplaces

As organisations mark My Whole Self Day, MHFA England encourages them to access free resources, including the new “My Whole Self: Guide to creating inclusive workplace cultures.” The organisation also offers bespoke consultancy services to help organisations develop high-performing, inclusive, and thriving workplaces.

Robyn Drysdale, Associate Director at research agency Ninth Seat, underscores the importance of fostering an environment where people feel seen and heard. She shares her company’s experience of embracing the My Whole Self initiative, emphasising the continuous practice of allowing employees to bring their whole selves to work.

The findings of this research serve as a poignant reminder that employers must not only champion diversity and inclusion on paper but translate these policies into meaningful practices that permeate every aspect of the workplace. The campaign is a vital step towards transforming workplaces into environments where individuals are not only accepted but celebrated for their diverse identities.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.