In order to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, it is important that each person listens to and tries to empathize with the experiences of others from different backgrounds. One of the best ways to better understand the experiences of marginalized and underrepresented groups is through storytelling. Studies indicate that fictional stories that include diverse depictions of characters can increase empathy and reduce prejudice towards these groups. Researchers have also found that learning about another person’s culture can reduce prejudice towards that specific group. One study demonstrated that individuals who read a narrative about an Arab woman were less biased towards Arabs following the reading. Education plays a pivotal role in the pursuit for a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and books can be a very effective and instrumental way to learn more about groups that are seemingly different from your own. One report, for example, found that including LGBT issues in the school curriculum lessened bias against this population. Below is a list of books that can serve as a great aid to both employees and organizational leaders who want to learn more and understand the cultural experiences of different groups. Reading diverse narratives may catalyze perspective-taking—an act that the research suggests can reduce bias.
The Memo by Minda Harts. Published just last week, this book was designed to give more perspective into the experiences of women of color in the workplace. Few career books on women’s advancement have examined the specific challenges faced by women of color. This book examines career advancement through a distinct lens, taking a detailed examination of what women of color face, including micro-aggressions and the wage gap. Harts also offers great insight into how these problems can be mitigated, including what specific actions can be taken by allies and organizational leaders to spark change.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. This New York Times bestseller was published in January of 2018 and assesses how different systems within society have contributed to racism and systems of oppression. Oluo tackles difficult topics that often arise when discussing race, including how to discuss white privilege, addressing racist remarks made by people you know, intersectionality and affirmative action. This book offers practical advice for both persons of color and white people when engaging in racial dialogue.
We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown. This book, published in May of this year, chronicles the history of the queer liberation movement. Through the usage of several photographs along with detailed narratives, this book shares different accounts of queer activism throughout the decades. From 19th century Europe to the Stonewall Riots and beyond, this book serves as an excellent visual representation of the journey through LGBTQ+ history. A great resource for anyone hoping to learn and understand more about LGBTQ+ history.
Yellow by Frank H. Wu. In this 2003 book, Frank Wu discusses the unique experiences of Asian-Americans and considers the ever-evolving issues surrounding globalization, immigration and affirmative action. This book examines Asian-American stereotypes and Wu dives into the concept of the model minority, while also analyzing the role that history has played in these stereotypes and perceptions. Using personal narratives and research, Wu shares informative insights into the Asian-American experience; this will be an eye-opening read for many.
Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates. This New York Times #1 bestselling book, published in July of 2015, is a thought-provoking and emotional analysis of what it means to a Black person in America. Using history and personal narratives, Coates pulls many emotions out of the reader and paints a poignant picture of how race can permeate so many facets of one’s life. For anyone hoping to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of Black people in America, and particularly the Black man, this is an excellent place to start.
The Latino Threat by Leo R. Chavez. This 2008 book examines the perceptions of immigrants in the United States, as well as the politics surrounding immigration. Chavez assesses many of the Latino stereotypes focusing particularly on Mexicans and how they are depicted in the media. Through the analysis of history and politics, the author offers an excellent breakdown of how the narratives around this group impact policies and the national conversation. This is an excellent book to help you challenge your beliefs and understanding of American immigration and learn more about the experiences of those directly impacted by these policies.
Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Written in 2016, this book examines the implicit biases that each person has, dubbed by the authors as one’s “blindspot.” The authors discuss the Implicit Association Test, one of the most popular tools to measure one’s unconscious or implicit bias. Through a scientific and heavily research lens, Banaji and Greenwald discuss what causes us to have blindspots and how we can overcome our personal biases and adapt our beliefs and behaviors. For anyone hoping to learn more about the underlying causes of our bias as well as some effective strategies to address these biases, this book is a great resource.
No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement by Joseph P. Shapiro. Despite being published over 20 years ago, this 1994 book is a great resource to help readers better understand the experiences of those who are differently-abled. Shapiro draws on history to help the reader better grasp the experiences of those with different disabilities. This book is timeless and relevant, particularly in this day and age when such a huge portion of the working population experiences physical or mental impairments, which can impact the workplace experiences. For anyone hoping to gain more insight into what differently-able people experience, this book is essential.
American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear by Khaled A. Beydoun. In this book, Beydoun examines the impact of recent historical events and how these events have shaped the public’s perception about Muslims in America. Some of the topics the author discusses include the “war on terror” and the Islamophobia that is pervasive in America. Readers gain deeper insight into the experiences of Muslims in America and how the media has heavily shaped the narrative about this group. Published in 2018, Beydoun discusses how some policies of the current Presidential administration have impacted Muslims and what effects specific terms and rhetoric have on perceptions. This book makes an excellent gift for anyone striving to better understand the Muslim experience in America.
This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite. Published earlier this year, Applewhite shares her journey and experiences with ageism and looks at specific stereotypes that American society holds about older individuals. The author examines different aspects of ageism including ageism in the workplace and in relation to our health, while sharing the history of ageism in our society. By the end of the book, readers will have a better understanding of age discrimination and will be able to assess personal beliefs that may have contributed to ageism in and out of the workplace. Using humor, Applewhite is able to craft a compelling case for how we can combat our ageist beliefs.