Diversity isn’t a new word in the business lexicon, but the books to come suggest a shift in how seriously it’s taken. Indeed, before the murder of George Floyd triggered a widespread racial tally, improving diversity within the workforce was at best an asset, adjacent but not paramount to the fundamentals of most companies. . Publishers are seeing a new drive to embed DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) efforts into the company’s DNA and provide plans to achieve these goals.
The call comes from inside the house
Some publishers have seen a shift in the books launched in the wake of summer 2020. Whereas previous work simply made the case for a diverse workforce and aimed to explain to managers why accepting differences was good for the net result is that the authors of these books assume that their audience is already on board.
“A lot of the submissions I used to get were about ‘why diversity matters’ and ‘why it should be on the agenda,'” says Lucy Carter, editor at Kogan Page. “Well, it’s already there, right at the top of the agenda. People want to know what to do about it. Its acquisition The key to inclusion (July) “is about how you make diversity a central part of your overall business strategy, just like developing a budget.” Edited by Stephen Frost, who led inclusion programs for the London Olympics and taught inclusive leadership at Harvard Business School, the book also includes sector-specific guidance, offering advice on how to implement inclusive practices in sectors such as technology, finance and media.
While social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo have shaped much of the discussion around DEI’s efforts, Kogan’s next positively purple (Oct.), by disability activist Kate Nash, reminds business leaders that building an inclusive company culture also means making sure the workplace is accessible to employees with disabilities. The book notes that about 10% of workers have a visible or invisible disability. Beyond overcoming physical barriers, Nash writes that much of the comfort of employees with disabilities at work comes down to company culture. Among her advice for managers, she recommends listening to employees with disabilities to learn how to best support them, and advocates for leadership to proactively raise awareness of how employees can request accommodations in the workplace.
Matt Holt, editor of an eponymous brand at BenBella, also senses a shift in how companies approach DEI initiatives. This time the feeling is different, says Holt, because for many companies the call for change comes from internal staff. “Things are coming to a head. Companies recognize that they have to do it because their workforces demand it. The acquisition of Holt Rebuilding inclusion (BenBella/Holt, Oct) by Amri B. Johnson, CEO and founder of consulting firm Inclusion Wins, says that for many years most corporate approaches to DEI have been a cosmetic change rather than systemic change. Johnson returns to the drawing board of his book. It breaks down the concepts of diversity and inclusion into core principles and shows companies how they can integrate them into their organizational processes. This approach provides a framework that is both actionable and sustainable, says Holt.
While management is responsible for encoding DEI into a company’s core values, individuals at all levels of the workforce must play a role in creating a more inclusive environment. Several upcoming books speak directly to staff, providing a collective action guide to change and navigating the corporate gauntlet as a member of a disadvantaged demographic.
In Shared Brotherhood, which Harvard Business Review Press publishes in October, co-authors Tina Opie, a consultant and professor of management at Babson College, and Beth Livingston, professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa, warn that even if companies can make progress toward gender equity in boardrooms and closing pay gaps, progress remains relatively elusive for women of color. Opie, who is black, and Livingston, who is white, “really live what shared brotherhood means; they’re so tight,” says Melinda Merino, editorial director of Harvard Business Review, describing the energy between the two women that won over the editor. The authors insist that women must act collectively so that all women can advance professionally, rather than just a few. “It’s a really radical idea that they teach. Gender equity will not be fully realized without racial equity,” Merino says.
The growing demand for these books reflects the fact that most companies accept having to fundamentally change their structures to come closer to a meritocratic ideal. Exploring workforce data reveals that one sector of the workforce consistently faces more barriers than any other: Black women report significantly fewer interactions, whether substantive or informal, with senior management than any other group, according to Lean In, a nonprofit that advocates for fairer workplaces. .
The importance of these interactions and how they shape success are at the heart of a pair of forthcoming books by Berrett-Koehler written by black women who have crossed the trenches of business to take on leadership positions. In Intelligence is not enough by Carice Anderson (Oct.), and please sit over there by Francine Parham (August; see our Q&A with Parham), the authors draw on their personal experiences to warn that a black person cannot rely solely on their formal education to progress in the workplace. “Both of these books are a lot about the unspoken rules that you have to learn to navigate in order to progress,” says Steve Piersanti, founder and editor-in-chief of Berrett-Koehler. “There aren’t a lot of role models in the organization, and black women don’t have the same track record as their white colleagues.”
But how do you do that?
Reflecting the sense of urgency to deliver results, many upcoming titles skip ambitious mission statements in favor of practical game plans. TP praised Deanna Singh, founder of social enterprise organization Flying Elephant, for doing just that in her review of Actions speak louder (May), whose advice he called “concrete and achievable”. Singh first guides readers through a series of self-examination exercises to define their social identities and find ways to leverage a privileged position to benefit everyone in the workplace. She then looks at organizational operations strategies, such as recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, that allow DEI to take root and shape the workplace into a place that is less harmful to people who are likely to suffer generational trauma due to historical injustices.
Setbacks are inevitable, so it’s best for companies to view their commitment to greater inclusivity as a journey rather than a finished program, says Ella Washington in the Harvard Business Review release. The necessary trip (Nov.). Washington chose to demonstrate some of the pitfalls businesses encounter along the way through 10 stories of success and failure at organizations like Slack, Kaiser Permanente, and PwC.
This season’s business titles guide those who want to make a difference through what may seem like uncharted waters. “Stories are how people learn,” says HBR’s Merino. “Washington draws an emotional connection in each chapter through the story of a company at a different stage in its journey. Readers see leaders go beyond just saying, ‘Okay, that’s something. something we should do” to say, “It’s something we have to do.”
Houston-based writer Mina Kelemen has covered business, travel, and other nonfiction books for TP since 2018.
Below is more information on business, leadership and personal finance books:
Get in the game: PW speaks with Francine Parham
In “Please Sit Over There”, Francine Parham examines power, exclusion and success at work.
Work Well: Business, Leadership, and Personal Finance Books 2022
New books are helping managers and employees tackle stress and mental health issues head-on.
Build Wealth Your Way: Business, Leadership, and Personal Finance Books 2022
Upcoming personal finance books reject universal financial prescriptions.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 9/5/2022 issue of Weekly editors under the title: Do what it takes