Best books on Diversity and Inclusion
Much has changed over the past six months. As our daily lives have slowed down, many of us have picked up the next read on our book list. With the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have all been reminded to continually self-learn and reflect on our privileges. 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 consultants to review their most essential and insightful reads about race, gender and unconscious bias.
– This Will Be My Undoing
– Why I’m No Longer Speaking to White People About Race
– Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
– The Good Immigrant
– Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why
– Girl, Woman, Other
– Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
Race and Racism
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
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 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.
- 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
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
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.
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.
Feeding into our understanding of, 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
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
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
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. And if you feel your organisation would benefit from our 28 years’ experience in diversity and inclusion, please do get in touch.
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