Barbara Waxman reviews Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace & The Will To Change, which offers a comprehensive review of diversity and how it can transform not only the workplace, but also our everyday lives.

I met Jennifer while working at a leadership conference over a decade ago. We had not stayed in touch save for occasional Linkedin updates, but my relatively new focus on diversity and inclusion caused us to re-connect and I was able to learn more about her work. Jennifer’s commitment to empowering business leaders with an understanding and tools that will effectuate change is impressive. Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace and the Will to Change was published in 2016 but I think its wisdom is more timely than ever.

In the rapidly changing business landscape, harnessing the power of diversity and inclusion is essential for the very viability and sustainability of every organization. Talent who feels fully welcomed, valued, respected and heard by their colleagues and their organizations will fuel this growth. In order to achieve this, it’s critical that we build systems that embrace diversity in all its forms, from identity and background to diversity of thought, style, approach and experience, and tie that rich foundation directly back to the bottom line.

It’s critical that we build systems that embrace diversity in all its forms, from identity and background to diversity of thought, style, approach and experience, and tie that rich foundation directly back to the bottom line.

Not only does the book make the case for strengthening diversity and inclusion efforts, but it also does an excellent job being a primer for relative ‘newbies’ to the topic by including a wide-ranging glossary and resources. The book also contains several tactical sections that allow you to begin implementing change immediately. For example, there is a section where those who could serve as executive sponsors are offered five specific roles to play in supporting Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s).

You don’t have to be working within a large corporate structure to appreciate the insights shared in this easy to read book. As an executive coach, I learned new terminology, as well as a handful of new approaches to engage in challenging conversations. The book also focuses on the importance of our individual commitment to nurturing our own diversity. Brown writes: “Just as institutions have founding stories, so do people: lessons they learned along the way, the sources of their values, their passion, what makes them unique, why they care about what they care about.” After gaining the clarity you need about your own personal experience, you can tell your story and you’ll want to open up conversations that lead to change, too.

This compelling book is also backed up with plentiful empirical research. The data back up what so many of us intuitively know but often find ourselves at a loss to share: the 21st century simply must be the time when we break down harmful, divisive barriers in order to make the world a better place. We must have the will to change.

A Look at a Book is a series I’m hosting to help keep you informed about the latest books having to do with adult development and middlescence. A Look at a Book is an efficient, enjoyable way to stay informed. 

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