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  • Writer's pictureShwetha Pai

6 Must Read Books on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This reading list has six powerful books on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. For anyone working to confront personal biases, become more informed on DEI issues, or gain skills and techniques in building a more inclusive work culture - these resources will give you the actionable tools needed.

These books tackle important topics such as confronting personal and systemic bias, navigating difficult yet necessary conversations, creating safe spaces, and providing the tools for empowerment and fostering a sense of belonging.


"Diversity, Inc: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business" by Pamela Newkirk

Pamela Newkirk examines the billion dollar business of diversity programs in companies and why despite five decades of efforts by the leading companies in the world, we have yet to move the needle in diversity hiring, promotion, and leadership in a meaningful manner. She highlights stories, lessons learned, and shines a light on the gaps still remaining around such programs and why progress has been slow. Her book attempts to bridge the gap between the rhetoric and actions that have stalled the best intentions and urges the readers to abandon costly check-the-box initiatives in favor of more long term, enduring programs that have true impact on the workforce and culture.


"Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson

Wilkerson’s latest book pushes the readers to view the American societal structures under new lens by drawing uncomfortable, yet compelling comparisons to other societal structures throughout history, such as the German Nazi treatment of the Jews and the Indian treatment of the untouchables. She tackles the befuddling questions that has puzzled many historians around why White American working class often vote against their own self-interest, and addresses head on the brutality and dehumanization that go hand in hand with a societal structure that is deeply engrained in the country’s psyche and its impact on identity.


"White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" by Robin DiAngelo

DiAngelo’s book is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand the deeply embedded racism in the American culture that manifests itself in many forms, from daily micro-aggressions to the structural barriers that are pervasive in our society. Her book is an excellent resource that provides practical tools for dismantling the “white fragility” that perpetuates racial inequalities.


"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander

Alexander hits a nerve by highlighting how the “War on Drugs” has disproportionately affected Black men, and how the effects of this policy has created a new form of systemic discrimination that is just as bad as the one that existed during the civil rights movement. Her book is an important read and provides context for anyone who wants to understand the depth of the systemic issues that plague Black communities in America.


"How to be an Anti-Racist" by Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi’s book is the guide for anyone who wants to understanding the history of racism in America and how to dismantle it in their daily lives. He provides a practical framework for understanding the true definition of racism, and offers tools for the readers to become an anti-racist ally in their communities.


"Erasing Institutional Bias: How to Create Systemic Change for Organizational Inclusion" by Tiffany Jana & Ashley Diaz Mejias

While it is easy to identify intentionally built systems of oppression like Jim Crow or the paralysis caused by the glass ceiling for women in the workplace, confronting systems that perpetuate subtle, unconscious bias is much harder. Jana and Mejias focus their attention on bias in the workplace and give readers practices and activities to create organizational trust to challenge these implicit biases.



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