Inclusive Leadership: A Must-Read List for Aspiring Change-Makers

DE&I work and combatting bias has a lot to do with creating a deeper understanding of yourself and others. That is why it can be so inspiring to listen to and read from some of the bright minds out there. Happy to share a list of some of my favourites!

11 Must-Read Books for Aspiring Change-Makers on Inclusive leadership

DEI deconstructed by Lily Zheng

This book was recently launched, and I just started reading it. I have been following Lily Zheng online for a while and they share very valuable posts full of deep learnings and right-to-the-point-messages. I have no doubt this book will do the same. It mentions ‘Your No-Nonsense Guide to Doing the Work and Doing it Right’. 

Let’s go!

Inclusion on Purpose by Ruchika Tulshyan

Ruchika Tulshyan is great and has been working in the DEI field a long time. In this book she focuses on the intersectional approach, she centers the workplace experience of women of colour, who are subject to gender ánd racial bias. 

In case you do not fall into one or both or these categories and think: this book is not for me. 

You are wrong, this book is for you (too).

Leading Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion by Rohini Anand

This book is a guide for systemic change in multinational organisation. I had the pleasure to work with Rohini Anand and her 20 years of experience building DE&I from the ground up at Sodexo, are such a much-needed source of information and guidance.

The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

A practical and explanatory book about the cultural traps that endanger careers, sink deals and challenge relationships. Erin Meyer decodes how people think, lead and get things done across cultures.

In my company, we have been working with a Culture Map trainer that can zoom into specific cultures to build bridges between colleagues and with customers. Very helpful, many a-ha moments and a lot of fun while doing it.

How to be an Inclusive Leader by Jennifer Brown

This is a guide for the personal journey we have to undergo to create an Inclusive workplace.

To become an Inclusive leader, we have to look within. Jennifer Brown takes you by the hand and explains the different stages of becoming more Inclusive and at the same time explains why this work is never done.

Disrupt bias, drive value by Hewlett/Rashid and Sherbin

Although a lot is being said about unconscious bias training, I believe for them to be a good first step into meaningful conversations. But to embed biases-combatting into the DNA of your company, of course, more is needed.

This book takes an extra step. Great learnings. 

The Power of Difference by Simon Fanshawe

Looking forward to reading this book by Simon Fanshawe. It promises practical solutions and professor Amy C. Edmondson endorses the book with the line: “the most compelling book on diversity I’ve ever read”. Sounds promising!

The Fearless Organisation by Amy C. Edmondson

Harvard professor, Amy Edmondson, has done years of research on psychological safety in the workplace and is such a frontrunner in that space. Without psychological safety it is unlikely that a company can retain sustainable growth. Talent will be leaving unsafe cultures and there will be little room for learning, growing and innovation. Such a valuable book. 

De Inclusiemarathon by Bouchallikht and Papaikonomou

For our Dutchies, a book by Zoë Papaikonomou filled with interviews with DEI professionals, sharing their knowledge and experiences about building inclusive organisations. 

Crucial conversations by Grenny/Patterson/McMillan/Switzler and Gregory

A book about communication. Page one starts with: “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. It talks about these defining moments that literally shape our lives, relationships and world. The book takes you down the path of productive dialogue.

We all can do with some communication-muscle-training every now and then. And communication is extremely important in the world of DE&I.

Onbewuste vooroordelen, a Dutch version of the Unconscious Bias book by Fuller/Murphy and Chow

It is all about bias. How do you recognise it, how do you strengthen connection and it’s about how tackling biases will increase excellence when replaced by mutual understanding and genuine interest.

Great book by Dr. Pamela Fuller and Laura te Hennepe, full of examples and exercises. 

Happy reading!

Gwen Kolader

Meet Gwen Kolader

Gwen Kolader has almost 20 years of experience in People & Culture. She worked as Director of Human Resources for Cognizant and now works as VP – Global Head DE&I for Hexaware and Mobiquity. Her passion has always been in Diversity and Inclusion, as D&I is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a crucial business growth enabler.

Gwen’s focus area within the Breaking Bias Expert Panel is Inclusive Leadership.

Connect with Gwen

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