Best Diversity and Inclusion Books
What are the best books on diversity and inclusion? It’s a question we get asked a lot and it’s become an annual favourite blog. So, with the holiday season upon us, we asked some of our consultants to make their recommendations for a 2019 pool-side choice.
We’ve chosen books that would make a great holiday read – not weighty textbooks. But we’ve also picked books that are thought-provoking; offering different perspectives and take-aways which could prove useful in your personal or business life.
Pack any of these titles in your suitcase (plus the sun cream) to find out more about:
• How to build on your awareness of intersectional diversity.
• How discrimination impacted one woman returning to art college as a mature student.
• How Hillary chose to break new ground and run for the US presidency – and what actually happened.
• Data bias in a world designed for men (a totally compelling read!).
Let us know what you think and if you have your own recommendations please share them on Twitter!
Our Top 4 Must-Reads
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins.
Having finished over 100 books last year, I wanted to continue my learning through reading so I was glad to have opened this book 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 hair style 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 I believe that is invaluable for us all.
Old in Art School by Nell Painter
Nell Painter is a distinguished historian, recently retired from Princeton University. She decided in her 60s to return to college and enrolled for a course in Fine Art. The book tells the story of what happened to her among the (mostly) younger students, where her experiences were definitely mixed – all kinds of discrimination but also great highs of pleasure and excitement in her new world. She also explains how her knowledge of history and her love of art eventually came together to make a new understanding of both disciplines.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in art, but especially in African American history in general and their art in particular. She cites many artists new to me, and her history books also sound worth reading – the most famous is a biography of Sojourner Truth.
Reviewed by Annie Hedge, Co-Founder of EW Group
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
I chose this book because it’s a brilliant study into what it takes to be the first from an under-represented group to go for high political office. It provides both inspiration and a picture of how tough it is to be the person who is trying to break barriers.
There are, of course, many relationships, her experience and talent that made her bid possible. The aspect that I found most powerful was the tribute she gives to the women’s movement and being born at a time when society was changing. So, anyone reading this review who is part of a network advocating for change, you are creating opportunities and who knows whose future you may be playing a part in shaping?
The challenges though of breaking barriers are enormous. You face many biases and because you are new and different, your mistakes are amplified and your successes diminished. The greatest illustration of this is the 2016 US presidential elections when, as we all know, Hillary used the “wrong” email account (her personal email) to transact business. She knows it was a mistake but it’s also one that has been made by members of the current US administration and they have not faced the same opprobrium. It is almost too obvious to say but her opposition surely should have faced more questions about his conduct.
Despite the fact that she didn’t win, we should celebrate her courage in running and the doors she has opened. There will one day be a female President of the US and maybe some lessons have been learnt about the biases that she faces and the next woman will have a fairer hearing in the court of public opinion.
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 6 areas: Daily Life; The Workplace; Design; Going to the Doctor; Public Life; and When it Goes Wrong. If you are 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 event 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 firstly 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 addresses biases in your workplace.
So, there are our four top reads for this summer. We’re confident that you’ll love the books…we’re just hoping that the weather is equally as marvellous! These books truly highlight how similar the workplace is to society and how much more can be done in both places for a truly inclusive and diverse culture to be reached. We’d love to hear your suggestions about new reads (whether it be books or articles) so feel free to message us on Twitter!
If any of these books make you think that your organisation could benefit from the 26 years of experience in diversity and inclusion that The EW Group has, get in touch.
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