Best books on Diversity and Inclusion

Best books on Diversity and Inclusion

The diversity specialists at EW Group offer their reviews of the best books on diversity and inclusion. Books that have deepened our knowledge and understanding of racism, unconscious bias, gender inequality, and allyship and belonging.

Woman surrounded by books - maybe writing one, or reviewing

As our daily lives have slowed down, many of us have picked up the next book on our reading list. With Black Lives Matter raising the profile of racism and discrimination, we have all been reminded to continually self-learn and reflect on inequality. So what better time to start a list of the best books on diversity and inclusion, a resource that we plan to update regularly. We’ve asked some of our diversity consultants to review their most essential and insightful reads about race, gender and unconscious bias.

Check back as we continue to update this with more of the best books on diversity and inclusion, and make sure to see our favourite books on mental health and wellbeing. Also see our Anti-Racism Resources guide for the best TV and films, podcasts, books and articles that help us to further understand anti-racism.

Index

Race and racism

This Will Be My Undoing
Brit(ish)
– Why I’m No Longer Speaking to White People About Race
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
– The Good Immigrant

Unconscious bias

Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why
– The Person You Mean To Be: How Good People Fight Bias
– Four Days to Change: 12 Radical Habits to Overcome Bias and Thrive in a Diverse World

Gender

– Girl, Woman, Other
– Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
– Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Allyship and Belonging

– Better Allies
Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work

Race and Racism

Book cover of This will be my undoing - by Morgan Jerkins - books on diversity resource

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins

As a white woman living in the UK, I found this book thought-provoking and enlightening in the ways black women may feel. It challenged my thinking and made me stop and reflect on what I take for granted.

Morgan gives an honest recollection of what it was like for her being a black female growing up in America; from not being successful in Cheerleader trials, and wondering if it was because she was black, to accepting her natural hairstyle and how liberating that was. There were so many experiences that she shares that I personally hadn’t experienced and therefore this book gave me a chance to continue to build on my awareness of diversity. Something that I believe is invaluable for us all.

Reviewed by Caroline Arnold

Cover of book - Brit(ish) - by Afua Hirsch - books reviews on diversity

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

This is a very generous book. I was familiar with many of its themes – police treatment of minorities, under- and mis-representation in film and tv, stereotyping and worse in the education system, the degrading portrayal of black bodies, especially in advertising – and Hirsch deals in detail with all these and many more, amplifying them with riveting detail and personal experience.

She is generously honest, sometimes painfully so, about her own dilemmas and difficulties in making sense of her own complicated heritage. The personal parts of her story are interwoven skilfully with the historical and political analyses of race and racism, and are made deeper and subtler by taking into account issues of gender and class. Her writing is clear, powerful and at times ironic and humorous. I learned a lot from reading this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it to others.

Reviewed by Annie Hedge

Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race - book cover - books on diversity resource

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

This book was first published in 2017 with an expanded version published in 2018.  2020 saw sales rise and place it as the bestselling – why should that be?

May 2020 saw Black Lives Matter protests take place around the world; the UK was no exception.  People began reaching out to understand what was happening and why now. This book is an excellent starting place to begin that process.

Ms Eddo-Lodge’s no-nonsense approach is easy to engage with, it’s a personal account of her growing awareness and response to events. Despite the title, we are almost engaged in a conversation with her – processing questions and getting to the point. It has seven chapters and, just as if we are conversing, they cover the ‘whatabout’ challenges that I have seen repeatedly arise when discussing racism with white people.

  • Histories
  • The System
  • What is White Privilege
  • Fear of a Black Planet
  • The Feminist Question
  • Race and Class
  • There’s No Justice, There’s Just Us

The expanded version includes Aftermath which places the issue of political climate firmly in focus. What is it we still didn’t get?  The discussions around Brexit, the rise of fascism, the tragedy of Grenfell. Something still hadn’t reached to the heart of the issue.

The Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for isolation to self-protect set the scene for the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement. The conviction that, despite the lockdown this was important, this was crucial; this was essential to make many stop and think.

Ms Eddo-Lodge’s commitment continues as she donated a percentage of the sales to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. This book is essential reading, but it should be the first of many.

Reviewed by Judeline Nicholas

Book cover of Natives - Race and Class in the ruins of empire

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

It’s hard to pigeonhole Akala’s ‘Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’. It’s partly a personal, powerful and moving memoir that examines the injustices and often cruelty experienced by Akala in school, by the police, by society’s limited expectations regarding race. It is also a detailed examination of British culture, the legacy of colonialism and institutional racism. Akala’s passionate, intelligent, and insightful voice shines through on every page. It is not a comfortable book to read and was never intended to be. It should, however, be a book read by every British white person to deepen their understanding of racism and their own white privilege. It is quite simply superb.

Reviewed by Helen Webb

Good Immigrant book cover - books on diversity and inclusion - resource

The Good Immigrant curated by Nikesh Shukula

The Good Immigrant compiles the powerful writing of twenty essays written by different authors who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. Their writing focusses on their experience of xenophobia, discrimination, and the new forms of racism and ‘otherness’ in modern Britain. This is a must-read Bestseller – also an often funny read at points too – which continues the discussion about race and ‘otherness’ in modern society. Read a longer review of The Good Immigrant by Teresa.

Review by Teresa Norman

Is racism at work a challenge at your organisation? See how our Anti-harassment & discrimination training and selection of Unconscious Bias services will help. Or consider a Diversity Audit which gives organisations an insight into the experiences that different groups of employees have at their place of work. Race is an important component of the outcomes which we help you to identify.

Unconscious bias

Messengers book cover - Review

Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why by Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks

Messengers sheds light into why it’s hard to create a more diverse and inclusive society. It tells us that whilst we should be listening to the advice of experts, our judgement on who we listen to is often instead based on our impressions of the person who is communicating with us.

The book looks at how status can affect our judgement of people. One example in the book that sticks out for me is that if a car doesn’t begin to move once a traffic light turns green, how long does it take for someone behind them to hoot? Counter-intuitively, the smarter the car is, the longer the pause. We make more allowances for people we perceive to have high status, we listen to them more attentively and we take more notice of what they have to say and we question them less – this is important for us all to be aware of in our daily lives and our decisions in our workplaces – and matters hugely if you have a challenge or scrutiny role.

Reviewed by Teresa Norman

Book cover of The Person You Mean to Be

The Person You Mean To Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh

Regardless of where you are in your inclusion journey, whether a seasoned activist or completely new to the fight, social psychologist Chugh, in her engaging way, holds up a mirror and encourages us to start from where we are: by taking a deep inward look.

Through her compelling stories and her solid research findings, Dolly drives us closer to being the person we actually mean to be, whilst making the world (and ourselves) a better place along the way.

I’ve always been a firm believer in equality, diversity and inclusion but I have often found myself paralysed by fear, shame, and discomfort at the sheer enormity of the inequality problems we face. Standing up for those values in our ever so turbulent world is an act of courage in itself and this book basically unearths the blunt version of ourselves to make the leap and be a change catalyst.

Packed with specific, tangible, respectful ways to make a difference through our very own “ordinary” privilege, you’re taken on a scenic route from blissful ignorance to intentional awareness and are offered a myriad of practical tools for our everyday lives.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of those books that stays firmly on the shelf (and doesn’t get lent to anyone!).

Reviewed by Sam Hernandez

Four Days to Change: 12 Radical Habits to Overcome Bias and Thrive in a Diverse World by Michael Welp

This book is based on the work of Michael Welp and Bill Proudman to solve discrimination in the workplace. They focus on changing the views of white men through their workshops specifically for white men. The book follows four men as they participate in a workshop facilitated by Michael and Bill and as they are introduced to the 12 habits, or mindsets.

This is an easy book to read, and I valued the opportunity to walk in the shoes of white men as they explore diversity – from discussing the negative connotations that are often associated with being a white man, how their upbringing has influenced who and how they are, to what changes they can make personally and as leaders.

Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris

Understanding how Unconscious Bias in the workplace can affect those around us disproportionately is critical. Training in Unconscious Bias gives your team the awareness of managing their own biases which can affect actions and behaviours at work.

Gender

Girl, Women, Other book cover - books on diversity resource

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

I loved this novel. It follows 12 characters, most of them Black British women- still such a rarity in itself. They each have their own chapter and their lives overlap. The shifting intersections of race, class, sex, and gender, age, faith and sexual orientation and much more are mirrored in each chapter and the lives of the characters. The highs and lows of the 1980’s is captured powerfully. I was sorry when each chapter ended as I wanted to know more about each of the women, but as each chapter ended, and the novel progressed, I understood that their lives were intertwined so I hadn’t heard the last of them at the end of a chapter. Full of love, humanity, anguish, and joy, it is my favourite book in the last year.

Reviewed by Jane Farrell

'Not That Bad' book cover

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxanne Gay

This book is a compilation of essays that provides a raw, personal window into the nuanced experiences of survivors of sexual violence. Not That Bad expertly illuminates the diversity of individuals who experience sexual assault, rape, and domestic abuse in a way that challenges myths about victim/survivorhood and pushes the reader to understand the physical and emotional toll of trauma across different identities and backgrounds.

Reviewed by Sam Goober

Invisible Women book cover

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

This is an absolute must-read for everyone – men and women, I couldn’t put it down as every page has such interesting stories and facts (there are 70 pages of references at the back of the book).

The book is split into six areas: Daily Life; The Workplace; Design; Going to the Doctor; Public Life; and When it Goes Wrong. If you’re a woman then don’t be surprised if you spend your time reading this book getting extremely frustrated with how much of this world really is designed for men. Things that you possibly hadn’t even considered. Take the design of a car. “When a woman is involved in a car crash, she is 47% more likely to be moderately injured and 17% more likely to die. And it’s all to do with how the car is designed – and for whom.” A man, just in case that wasn’t clear.

For me though the learning from this book is what we can do about this. I would recommend first reading this book and then start to be curious about things around you. Consider attending one of our unconscious bias sessions so that you become more aware of your biases and how you may be able to address biases in your workplace.

Reviewed by Caroline Arnold

Allyship and Belonging

Better Allies by Karen Catlin

Karen Catlin’s Better Allies is an approachable, easy-to-digest tool kit for anyone who wants to learn more about allyship. The book provides tangible tools for professionals, managers, and leaders to better support colleagues from underrepresented groups in their organisations. Covering topics including: understanding privilege, opening career doors, diversifying networks, and amplifying/ advocating during meetings, Better Allies can help individuals in any role (and any field) become more inclusive advocates for change.

Reviewed by Sam Goober

'Belonging' book cover

Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work by Kathyrn Jacob, Sue Unerman and Mark Edwards

We should all know what it feels like to belong, to be confident in offering our views, to feel accepted for who we are, and to know that disagreement with us comes from the best of intent. The book describes all the emotions people feel about their work and that is what makes it incredibly real and unique.

Belonging illustrates why it is so important that organisations create a sense of inclusion for its workforce. The authors share experiences, interviews, and research about what it means to belong at work. I have read this book three times and I gain something new from it every time.

Reviewed by Teresa Norman

So here are our top picks of some of the best books on diversity and inclusion, books that have helped us to reflect and learn. Visit again soon to find new reviews as this will be an ongoing resource.

Understanding privilege and exclusion is key for your organisation to progress its diversity and inclusion agenda. We can support you with our thirty years of experience in delivering effective diversity and unconscious bias trainingdiversity audit, analysis and consultancy. Get in touch to learn more.

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Mitch Price is EW Group's Marketing and Communications Specialist. He helps to deliver our marketing and content strategy; working on our blogs, podcasts, client stories and other marketing tasks. Mitch has participated in several diversity and inclusion projects. He was a contributing author of the Penguin-curated book about mental health, 'It's Not OK to be Blue (and Other Lies)'. He was named as Stonewall’s Young Campaigner of the Year in 2016 for his work on discrimination facing LGBT+ young people.

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