By Jessica Gendron, President

I had a dilemma: I found myself inundated with book recommendations from friends, colleagues, social media, etc.  My Audible and Amazon Wish List’s were getting longer and longer – yet I had no clarity on what to read next or titles that would be totally worth my precious 1 credit a month on Audible.

I wanted to offer my fellow business book nerds and gender equality allies some insight into what me and my team were reading, as a way to spark conversation with you, but also give you some guidance on books that are worth your time – and ones that aren’t.  Consider this the first of many in a monthly series from The Center for Leadership Excellence:  What We’re Reading.

Here’s what we were reading in February:

Good and Mad:  The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister

I found this book because I caught and NPR interview with the author months ago – and I’m glad I did.  This is one of the most complete and insightful feminist and gender equity texts I’ve ever read.  It explores female anger and how it has driven social change, how its perceived in society, how race impacts the perception of anger, how it’s caused damage to gender equality, and how it’s driven change.  I could not put this book down.  This is a great read, as we head into Women’s History Month, but also for anyone who wants a foundational understanding of the gender equity movement (it’s history and modern application).  This would be a great “book club” read, as there are ample concepts to discuss and unpack with colleagues or friends.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell is a go-to favorite of mine and when this book came out, I moved it swiftly up my list.  I recommend reading this book on Audible, as Gladwell records the book like a series of podcasts using real recordings of the people he’s interviewed or the actual video/audio clips he references.  In the book, Gladwell takes us through a series of real-world examples that makes the case for how bad humans are at “talking to strangers” or as I might put it – reading people, making assumptions about honesty, behaviors, and/or reactions from people we barely know.  The examples provide great context to the concepts he’s teaching, making the book concepts easy to understand. There’s great workplace application for HR and Diversity & Inclusion staff, as it really looks at how bad we are at reading strangers and sparks creativity around how we can approach hiring and d&i training differently.  I recommend this easy and fun read for anyone that wants to be better at building relationships and interacting with others.

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Banaji & Greenwald

This was my second time reading this book and I found it just as useful the second time, as the first.  Blindspot takes a scientific approach to understanding how the brain makes unconscious decisions for us on a frequent basis.  It does a great job of helping the reader understand why we all have bias and how we can work to “override” those natural systems in our brain that cause bias.  This is a meaty read and not for the faint of heart, however. If you are someone who wants to really understand how bias forms and how bias and privilege show up in our daily lives, this book is for you.  Great for anyone in Diversity & Inclusion or as a group read for an executive team.

Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences by Jana & Freeman

If you’re scared of the “heavy science” in Blindspot, Overcoming Bias might be an easier entry point.  This book is a lot more tactical in its application, doing a great job of helping the reader understand what they can do about their own bias.  Inversely, Blindspot is much more focused on why we have bias and how it shows up in our thoughts and actions.  The two books together make a great pairing, however I find Overcoming Bias much more accessible for the general reader, employee, or leader.  I recommend this book for a staff read or as a part of a diversity & inclusion training for organizational leadership.


What’s coming up in March? Here’s the titles we’re reading next month.

Until next month…happy reading!

Got book recommendations?  Email your recommendations directly to Jessica

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