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Top 10 books about diversity and inclusion every leader should know about



The business case for diversity and inclusion has long been demonstrated; Boston Consulting Group found that diverse management boosts revenue by 19%, Deloitte found that diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee and Mckinsey found that 43% of companies with diverse boards noticed higher profits. So why are only 8% of Fortune CEOs women in 2021? And why are men 30% more likely to be promoted to a managerial position in 2020? One of the answers is a lack of education and awareness about diversity and inclusion. Many CEOs, business leaders, team leaders and HR professionals have never been educated on how to build an inclusive and diverse workplace, and only a few of them have the knowledge and the tools to transform their workplace into a highly inclusive and collaborative place to work. Education, and in particular reading books, plays a key role in learning how to foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace. One report by Casafeschools, for example, found that including LGBT issues in the school curriculum lessened bias against this population. Here is a list of the top 10 books that everyone willing to create an inclusive and diverse workplace should read. Reading diverse stories is key to start acting in a way that reduces bias, boosts inclusion and fosters diversity.




1) The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


International business expert Erin Meyer helps readers understand and navigate cultural differences in this insightful and practical guide, which is perfect for both work and personal life. Americans precede anything negative with three nice comments; French, Dutch, Israelis, and Germans get straight to the point; Latin Americans and Asians are steeped in hierarchy; Scandinavians think the best boss is just one of the crowd. It's no surprise that when these different groups try and talk to each other, chaos breaks out. In The Culture Map is a great guide through this subtle, sometimes treacherous terrain in which people from starkly different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together. Erin Meyer provides a field-tested model for decoding how cultural differences impact international business, and combines a smart analytical framework with practical, actionable advice.




2) Inclusion: The Ultimate Secret for an Organization's Success by Perrine Farque


International keynote speaker and author Perrine Farque helps readers become the inclusive leader they always aspired to become with her practical book, filled with case studies, real-life work experience, research and a bonus chapter sharing hands-on tools to use. Most business leaders struggle with keeping their employees connected, engaged and productive. Studies show that 85% of employees are not engaged in the workplace. When people feel included, they are more engaged, more productive and make their organisation more profitable. Perrine Farque’s book Inclusion will help you create true inclusion at work, define the impact an inclusive workplace has on an organization’s performance, share who can contribute to creating an inclusive workplace, and, of course, why every organisation should prioritize inclusion. Ultimately, it will help you become the inclusive leader you always wanted to become.





3) Diversify by June Sarpong


How do we set aside race, colour, creed, class, age, religion, sexual orientation, physicality and all of our perceived differences? Is it truly possible to live without prejudice? And why should we want to? Offering six stories and six simple steps, Diversify explores the value we place on social packaging - how it shapes the way we see ourselves, determines who we become and limits the opportunities available to us. Most importantly, it offers practical tools, empowering us to challenge those limitations and diversify. Combining sharp observations, fascinating case studies and interviews with key political, cultural and business leaders, Diversify is a fierce, accessible, credible and proactive guide to how we can beat social division - and reach our potential as a society.




4) How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive by Jennifer Brown


Most of us know why diversity is important, but how do we drive real change at work? Diversity and inclusion expert Jennifer Brown provides a step-by-step guide for the personal and emotional journey we must undertake to create an inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive.

Human potential is unleashed when we feel like we belong. That’s why inclusive workplaces experience higher engagement, performance, and profits. But the reality is that many people still feel unable to bring their true selves to work. In a world where the talent pool is becoming increasingly diverse, it’s more important than ever for leaders to truly understand how to support inclusion.

Drawing on years of work with many leading organizations, Jennifer Brown shows what leaders at any level can do to spark real change. She guides readers through the Inclusive Leader Continuum, a set of four developmental stages: unaware, aware, active, and advocate. Brown describes the hallmarks of each stage, the behaviors and mind-sets that inform it, and what listeners can do to keep progressing. Whether you’re a powerful CEO or a new employee without direct reports, there are actions you can take that can drastically change the day-to-day reality for your colleagues and the trajectory of your organization.





5) Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald.


‘I know my own mind. I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way.” These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality. "Blindspot" is the authors' metaphor for the portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups--without our awareness or conscious control--shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people's character, abilities, and potential. In Blindspot, the authors reveal hidden biases based on their experience with the Implicit Association Test, a method that has revolutionized the way scientists learn about the human mind and that gives us a glimpse into what lies within the metaphoric blindspot. The title's "good people" are those of us who strive to align our behavior with our intentions. The aim of Blindspot is to explain the science in plain enough language to help well-intentioned people achieve that alignment. By gaining awareness, we can adapt beliefs and behavior and "outsmart the machine" in our heads so we can be fairer to those around us. Venturing into this book is an invitation to understand our own minds.




6) How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X X Kendi


Not being racist is not enough. We have to be antiracist. In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option: until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem. Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and storyteller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good. Along the way, Kendi punctures all the myths and taboos that so often cloud our understanding, from arguments about what race is and whether racial differences exist to the complications that arise when race intersects with ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality. In the process he demolishes the myth of the post-racial society and builds from the ground up a vital new understanding of racism - what it is, where it is hidden, how to identify it and what to do about it.



7) Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams by Stefanie K. Johnson


In this groundbreaking guide, management expert Stefanie K. Johnson outlines the transformative leadership skill of tomorrow - one that can make it possible to build truly diverse and inclusive teams that value employees’ need to belong while being themselves. Humans have two basic desires: to stand out and to fit in. Companies respond by creating groups that tend to the extreme - where everyone fits in and no one stands out, or where everyone stands out and no one fits in. How do we find that happy medium where workers can demonstrate their individuality while also feeling they belong? The answer, according to Stefanie Johnson, is to Inclusify. In this essential handbook, she explains what it means to Inclusify and how it can be used to strengthen any business. Inclusifying - unlike “diversifying” or “including” - implies a continuous, sustained effort toward helping diverse teams feel engaged, empowered, accepted, and valued. It’s no use having diversity if everyone feels like an outsider, she contends. Inclusify reveals the unexpected ways that well-intentioned leaders undermine their teams, explains how to recognize the myths and misperceptions that drive these behaviors, and provides practical strategies to become an Inclusifyer. By learning why uniqueness and belonging are so imperative, leaders can better understand what makes their employees tick and find ways to encourage them to be themselves while ensuring they feel like they are fully part of the group. The result is a fully engaged team filled with diverse perspectives - the key to creating innovative and imaginative ideas that drive value.




8) Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces by Karen Catlin


Are you looking to build a workplace culture with a certain buzz about it? Where employees are thriving and engagement survey scores are through the roof. Where people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ages, and abilities are hired and set up for success--and they all want their friends to work there too, because it's so awesome. One secret to creating this kind of workplace is allyship. And it's something anyone can do. In Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces, you'll learn to spot situations where you can create a more inclusive culture, along with straightforward steps to take. Leadership coach Karen Catlin will walk you through how to be a better ally, including hiring and retaining a diverse workforce, amplifying and advocating for others, giving effective and equitable performance feedback and using more inclusive language. Read this book to level-up your allyship skills and create a culture where everyone, including you, can do their best work and thrive.




9) The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy Edmondson


The Fearless Organization offers practical guidance for teams and organizations who are serious about success in the modern economy. With so much riding on innovation, creativity, and spark, it is essential to attract and retain quality talent - but what good does this talent do if no one is able to speak their mind? The traditional culture of "fitting in" and "going along" spells doom in the knowledge economy. Success requires a continuous influx of new ideas, new challenges, and critical thought, and the interpersonal climate must not suppress, silence, ridicule, or intimidate.

Not every idea is good, and yes, there are stupid questions, and yes, dissent can slow things down, but talking through these things is an essential part of the creative process. People must be allowed to voice half-finished thoughts, ask questions from left field, and brainstorm out loud; it creates a culture in which a minor flub or momentary lapse is no big deal and where actual mistakes are owned and corrected, and where the next left-field idea could be the next big thing. This book explores this culture of psychological safety and provides a blueprint for bringing it to life. The road is sometimes bumpy, but succinct and informative scenario-based explanations provide a clear path forward to constant learning and healthy innovation.



10) The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace by Lindsey Pollak


Millennials have only just begun their reign as the largest generation in the workplace. But they are not alone. For the next decade at least, these young professionals will be working side by side with more established generations, including the baby boomers, who are working longer than ever, and an entirely new group coming up, generation Z. This means within any organization, any team, any meeting, any marketing opportunity, you may find any combination of generations. Each of these age groups has its own attitude, expectations, and professional style. To lead and succeed in any organization today, you must adapt to how millennials work while continuing to accommodate their older colleagues and paying attention to the next generations coming up. The Remix shows you how to adapt and win through proven strategies that serve all generations’ needs. As the leading expert on generations in the workplace, Lindsey Pollak combines the most recent data from a variety of authoritative sources with her own original research as well as detailed case studies from her Fortune 500 clients. Pollak outlines the ways businesses, executives, midlevel managers, employees, and entrepreneurs can handle situations that may arise when diverse styles clash and provides clear strategies to turn generational diversity into business opportunity. Generational change is impacting all industries, all types of organizations, and all leaders. The Remix is an essential listen for anyone who wants to survive and thrive today and into the future.




Reading books about creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace is key to learning how to become a more inclusive leader. If you need help to build a more inclusive and collaborative team or to boost diversity in your own organisation, contact us here.


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