5 Must-Read Books on Workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
No matter where your workplace is on the DEI journey, there’s a book for you.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) always have been necessary ingredients for a successful workplace, and they are now more important than ever before. But many managers and leaders who want to ramp up their DEI don’t know where to start. Since Catalyst Supporters are avid readers, they often ask for book suggestions. I typically recommend books containing practical advice that complement Catalyst research and tools.
Here are my top picks for 2021—five recently published books that offer clear takeaways for those starting the DEI journey in five pivotal areas necessary for inclusion.
Confronting Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias in the workplace is prevalent, even if everyone has good intentions. The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How To Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection and Create High-Performing Teams explores the definitions, concepts, and neuroscience. Franklin Covey experts Pamela Fuller and Mark Murphy, together with AT&T Business CEO Anne Chow, demonstrate that our experiences shape who we are and impact the lens through which we view the world—leading to unconscious bias.
The authors outline a four-part framework to recognize bias, explain strategies to mitigate it, and include exercises and tools. This book—together with the Catalyst #BiasCorrect plug-in tool—leaves readers with a deeper understanding of unconscious bias and motivates them to be mindful of it in their everyday lives. As the authors note: “To be human is to have bias.” The good news is that our “brains are wired not just for biases and preferences but also for change and growth.”
Hiring a diverse pool of employees within your company is an important start. But unless those employees feel and are included, your efforts will not bring about real change. Inclusive leadership, as Catalyst research has demonstrated, is critical. DEI consultant Jennifer Brown explores these issues in How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive.
Her Inclusive Leader Continuum is a practical and achievable framework. Brown details the key inclusive leadership behaviors and mindsets to help leaders become more inclusive in day-to-day interactions. For example, commit to learn from your company’s ERG (employee resource group), mentor or sponsor an employee with a background different from yours, and speak up if you observe a microaggression in the workplace. Remember, inclusive leadership is a daily practice and ongoing journey, not a destination.
Having Courageous Conversations
Initiating dialogue on racial and gender inequities, and creating a safe space for employees, can be challenging to some managers and leaders. We Can’t Talk about That at Work! How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics is enormously helpful. Written by Mary-Frances Winters, CEO of The Winters Group, this book contains tools, templates, and self-assessments to determine your readiness for difficult, honest conversations. It is an excellent complement to our Catalyst curation of resources on Talking Across Differences and our infographic and Supporter-only Knowledge Burst on Overcoming Conversation Roadblocks.
Engaging Men as Allies and Champions
Men are often the missing ingredient when it comes to advancing DEI in the workplace. They may refrain from these initiatives because they believe the topic doesn’t pertain to them, or they may not know how to start. In their book Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace, scholars W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith provide extensive research and practical advice on how men can build a more inclusive workplace, home, and society for all. They recommend creating flexible workplace options, reassessing parental leave policies, and launching an ERG for allies who are men and provide a “Glossary of Ally Slang” of terms like “Bropropriating, Manels, Mansplaining, and Manterrupting.” Together with Catalyst’s MARC programming, this is a helpful resource for anyone looking to refine their allyship skills and support women–at work and home—in more meaningful ways.
Reskilling for the Future of Work
With massive demographic shifts and technological advances, the world of work is changing fast. Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don’t Even Exist Yet by Michelle R. Weise, former chief innovation officer of Strada Education Network’s Institute for the Future of Work, offers guidance. Because the impact of the Future of Work is “distributed unevenly and unequally,” companies must step up their efforts to develop talent in-house to reduce inequities. Weise notes that data analytics programs (e.g., SkyHive or FutureFit or Hitch) are one way to identify employees for reskilling or redeployment. Reverse mentoring is another way to advance greater learning across generations to maintain maximum productivity and a competitive edge. Interpersonal skills like empathy and flexibility also are essential to create inclusive environments where all employees thrive.
As this list demonstrates, no matter where you are on this journey, there is a book out there for you. Happy reading!
Senior Director, Corporate Engagement and Consulting Services
Kimberley Doyle currently serves as a Senior Director, Corporate Engagement and Consulting Services, where she collaborates with Fortune 500 companies across the United States in building diverse and inclusive workplaces. She develops and counsels these organizations in expanding opportunities for women by connecting them with Catalyst resources, research, experts, and…