Recommended books on diversity, equity, and inclusion

Recommended Books to Start a DEI Book Club at Your Workplace

In Blog, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by Fatima Dainkeh

Creating intentional space and time to discuss topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace can be difficult. One of the reasons why might be because your company believes there aren’t enough resources to create or support a DEI initiative within your workplace. One small but impactful way to start or continue the conversation around DEI is through a book club! 

An employee-run book club can be a great way for coworkers to share information, personal stories, ideas, and discuss DEI topics in depth, especially as it relates to the workplace. Employees can choose to participate and take turns leading discussions around specific chapters or themes. Whatever you decide, make sure you have people who are interested, accountable, and willing to have conversations that can help you build trust and create positive change within the workplace. Here’s a great article on how to implement a book club in the workplace

DEI Books to Read in 2020

Once you have a group of committed readers, it may be helpful to have a list of books to select from. We’ve hand-picked 12 DEI-related books to get you started: 

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism
by Ashton Applewhite
Listed as one of the “100 best books to read at every age” by the Washington Post, This Chair Rocks debunks myths and explores the impact ageism has on older people in the workplace and beyond. According to author and activist Ashton Applewhite, ageism– discrimantion that sidelines and silences older people– exists because it is socially acceptable, and must be stopped. 

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
by Priya Parker
If you are re-thinking the way you host your meetings or attend conferences, this book provides examples on how to meet, better. Author Priya Parker uses a human-centered approach to gathering in order to help us create “meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play.” 

If They Come For Us
by Fatimah Ashgar
A poetry collection describing expereinces of a young Pakistani Muslim girl in the United States, author Fatimah Ashgar invites us into her world growing up as an orphan and explores issues of race, sexuality and what it means not only to be human, but also to belong in a society.  

Gender: Your Guide
by Lee Airton
This book is a conversation starter on all things gender in the 21st century. With great explanations and examples of how to discuss and understand gender diversity, readers are also provided online discussion guides to help further the conversation. Check out A Starting Place Discussion Guide for Co-Workers and Team Leaders.

We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation
by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown
A photographic book that highlights the struggle, victories and appreciation of the LGBTQIA+ community. We Are Everywhere gives the reader an opportunity to learn, appreciate, and honor queer history.

How to Be an Antiracist
by Ibram X. Kendi
This New York Times bestseller provides an opportunity for the reader to go beyond mere awareness of racism, and become an agent of change in society. Author Ibram X. Kendi discusses how we support harmful aspects of our history, law, and science through our beliefs, and helps us to reexamine them. This book also includes an online discussion guide specifically made for a book club

The Witches Are Coming
by Lindy West
The New York Times columnist, Lindy West, writes a compelling book that brings to light the issues of patriarchy and white male privilege in the wake of the #MeToo movement. West unpacks the history of prejudices and harmful narratives that have infiltrated the media and our overall culture. West believes that our society needs to examine these truths and the stories we have accepted in order to transform. 

Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets
by Feminista Jones
In this book, cultural commentator, activist and social worker Feminista Jones highlights how Black women have used digital spaces and created digital communities to change our culture and overall society. Hashtags such as #BlackLives Matter, #SayHerName, #BlackGirlMagic have expanded the conversation of feminism by centering intersectionality and storytelling, while at the same time creating a space to learn and engage in Black feminist theory and thought.

White Tears/Brown Scars
by Ruby Hamad
In White Tears/Brown Scars, author Ruby Hamad explores what happens when racism and sexism collide and how White victimhood, specifically White woman victimhood, is “masked by white entitlement.” This oftentimes silences the experiences and voices of racial minorities, and does not allow us to have productive dialogue or create change.

Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces
by Karen Catlin
If you’re thinking of ways you can be an ally in the workplace, Better Allies provides case studies, examples of allyship, and tangible steps you can take to support the people you work with. Topics include hiring and retaining, using inclusive language, providing effective and equitable feedback, advocating, and amplifying the voice of others. 

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World and Become a Good Ancestor
by Layla Saad
Me and White Supremacy is a 28-day challenge guide that explores the history of racism, provides examples of how white supremacy is consciously and unconsciously perpetuated, and what can be done to stop “inflicting damage on black, indigenous and people of color.” Author Layla Saad includes definitions, anecdotes and resources to help her readers become change makers. 

We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders 
by Linda Sarsour
Linda Sarsour, author, activist, and co-organizer of the Women’s March in Washington D.C., speaks truth to power in this memoir. Reflecting on her religion, activism journey, and community, Sarsour shares with us what it means to organize for racial, economic, gender, and social justice, and how to take action instead of being a bystander. 


If you’re looking for additional inspiration, check out our book list from last year!  

Photo credit: iStock Photo