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13 Free DEI Books With Everything You Need to Create Diversity & Inclusion Training Materials for the modern workplace

Formal diversity and inclusion consultation: costly, time-consuming.

Homegrown DEI solutions: well-intentioned, but fall short.

These 14 diversity and inclusion books: free, fast access to expert insights.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives shouldn’t be what your company gives up when you’re trying to run lean and stay agile. So we scoured the web looking for some of the best books on diversity and inclusion (and equity and belonging) so you don’t have to.

Use these DEI books to build out your own DEI toolkit, educational materials, and effective training programs. Pull from original research, industry-spanning expertise, and proven, up-to-date methodologies.

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

For some, diversity and inclusion is just lip service. Or a new set of buzzwords.

But for the members of the workforce they impact, diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives can be life-changing. We spend around ⅓ of our lives on work — a sense of safety, belonging, and well-being goes a long way toward improving our lives overall.

What is DEIB?

Diversity

Diversity is often regarded as a question of race or gender. It’s moreso a question of accepting and cultivating different modes of thinking, different backgrounds. It does also sometimes means supporting and uplifting individuals from underrepresented communities. That falls into equity.

Equity

Equity is the action of providing fair accommodation, opportunity, and compensation for employees.

It is not equality per se, where everyone has the same accommodations, opportunities and compensation.

If someone needs more help, offer them more help. If you have a distributed workforce and a candidate lives in an area where cost of living has spiked, your offer should reflect their reality and not some ambiguous idea of what a position is worth in the abstract.

Inclusion

Inclusion is what powers diversity, equity, and belonging. It is the act of making your workplace and culture safe, welcoming, forward-thinking. Inclusion takes real on-the-ground work day in and day out.

Belonging

When the above factors converge correctly, your employees will feel a sense of belonging.

If you’ve ever been invited somewhere, showed up, and felt wildly out of place, you’ll understand the difference between inclusion and belonging. Belonging has to go a step further than intentions or efforts. It is a result, and not one that can be forced.

Diversity and Inclusion Training in the Workplace

DEI conversations in tech and other traditionally lopsided fields usually start with some variation of, “How do companies like ours hire more minorities?”

But some of the most successful diversity efforts don’t start with hiring at all; they begin with inclusion.

  • If your culture doesn’t welcome and develop a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, what will make those hires stay?
  • What will attract a new batch of diverse candidates when your false commitment to them becomes apparent?

Without an inclusive culture, you won’t retain your so-called diversity hires long-term. And word spreads. You’ll find greater issues down the line. Building an inclusive culture, that organically attracts and retains diverse candidates, is a business imperative as much as a social one.

The solution? Identifying and Implementing long-term DEI goals — some might call it an “initiative” or “program,” while others may use the more action-oriented “training.”

Whatever you call it at your org, it’s the execution that matters.

There’s no single tool that guarantees success. But having a full DEI toolkit at your disposal makes things easier. That’s where this ebook collection swoops in to help. Take the lessons and tools you need; leave the rest.

DEIB
DE&I tips

Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices

What makes for effective DEI training? What do you need to educate yourself and other team leaders, empower employees, and make an actual difference?

These are the DEI books to get your bearings.

Our big takeaway from these 3 ebooks: it might feel like you need to strike at issues of diversity and inclusion with a hammer. What you really need is a chisel and careful aim.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion by Small Giants

What does it mean to be a company that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive? Is it a mindset? Is it company-wide practices? Is it quantifiable or quantitative?

Yes.

This ebook embraces the idea that we really don’t know what we’re doing yet.

  • Few (if any) companies have decades-long processes in place structured around DE&I.
  • Even if there were, the nature of DE&I is human-centric, and does not fit neatly into a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • It grows, evolves, and shifts, as does our overall understanding of the practice.

DE&I can be clumsy, and it’s always a learning process. As such, Small Giants is setting out to give you the information you need to succeed, but not the step-by-step instructions.

Explore the definitions and intersections of diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with reasons why they are each important – and how you can begin integrating these concepts into your organization’s culture.

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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion by Small Giants

The Big Book of People Analytics: Diversity and Inclusion by Visier

As we briefly mentioned above, inclusion and diversity are sometimes used interchangeably. That’s incorrect though; they are, in fact, quite different. This ebook is a discovery process for the uninitiated, walking you through the intricacies of the two.

In an HR context, you might treat diversity as the numerical metrics, and inclusion as the sum of experiences a diverse employee has within your organization.

Diversity is measurable. You can interrogate it with questions like:

  • What is our ratio of male to female employees?
  • What is our ratio of white employees to employees of diverse ethnicities?
  • What percentage of our leadership team are female?
  • What percentage of our board of directors are ethnically diverse?

Inclusion, however, is subtle, complex, and much harder to measure. It speaks to many elements of the employee experience, such as whether or not they feel heard, experience a sense of belonging, and are able to express themselves safely in the workplace.

You can examine it through data, but the questions look more like this:

  • Why are diverse candidates opting out during the recruiting cycle?
  • If our employee population is 49% female, why is only 9.8% of our leadership team female?
  • Are people of color paid fairly compared to other employees in their role?
  • Why are our high-performing diverse employees choosing to exit the organization within their first two years?
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The Big Book of People Analytics: Diversity and Inclusion by Visier

The Essential Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by lever

Progress is about more than a handful of favorable percentages in your demgraphic breakdown.

Getting true results out of your diversity initiatives requires expanded and transparent goal-setting.

  • Get feedback from employees. 
  • Take your business’ larger value system into account. 
  • Create shared goals that align with the various inputs.

When people feel heard, and feel like they’re actually moving the needl, they’ll be much more inclined to throw their weight into the DEI program.

This ebook dives into Lever’s own DEI initiatives as well as how several other companies have handled it.

Take a peek at their 5-step system to set and maintain diversity goals:

  1. Solicit team-wide input from all employees and teams
  2. Track and measure your existing hiring bias
  3. Analyze the results for trends and turn them into action points
  4. Set goals and hem them in with deadlines – some short-term and others longer
  5. Celebrate wins and give voice to opportunities
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The Essential Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by lever

books with ideas to Power Your Diversity and Inclusion Program

We’ve grounded ourselves in the general how and why. Let’s take a closer look at some specific “what”s.

The big takeaway from these books: a couple screwdrivers aren’t enough. You’ve got a lot of screws to adjust. Invest in a set of (metaphorical) drillbits instead. And don’t be afraid to swap them out — that’s exactly why you have so many on hand.

How to Build a Diverse Workplace with Coaching and Mentoring by torch

Usually, companies tend to focus on increasing diversity like this:

  • Diversity training on unconscious bias
  • Setting recruiting pipeline targets
  • Supporting employee resource groups

This is important work that should be done, but the work doesn’t stop once these sorts of programs are implemented. A few ongoing programs can’t displace the importance of culture shift.

D&I-focused coaching and mentoring can help individual employees embrace the cause. It gives everyone a chance to understand that inclusion and belonging are also a quiet, interpersonal concern.

“People aren’t diverse, but teams and companies must be. Diversity is a relational concept. It shows up in the composition of teams and organizations, and it is measured based on a collective whole. In this way, diversity refers to ‘difference’ within a given setting. So while a person is not ‘diverse,’ they may bring a diverse range of experiences.”

The programs outlined here are tailored for growth and development, and promote people with a range of differences feeling valued in the workplace.

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How to Build a Diverse Workplace with Coaching and Mentoring by torch

How to Increase Diversity in the Workplace by brazen

One DE&I sticking point that rears its head often is our need to couch it in business terms. Its effect on the bottom line.

Working toward greater diversity and inclusion should be an end unto itself. But businesses have priorities, legacy processes, might be missing the frameworks to create a DE&I push that gets results. Change can be hard.

This ebook is here to address that.

Plenty of the DEI books on this list at least mention the business case for diversity. They dip their toes in. This one dives off the highboard.

Make the case for diversity in the workplace as a prudent business decision – one that:

  • Expands your talent pool
  • Enables better decision-making and innovation
  • Serves your existing (or a potentially new!) customer base
  • Offers real ROI in the form of outperforming competition, sales returns, and turning capital into profit
  • Isn’t a sunk cost but a compounding dividend
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How to Increase Diversity in the Workplace by brazen

What Women Want 2021 by work180

We’re inclined to agree. The survey asked questions about career barriers, views on workplace gender equity, and what women look for in an employer.

“It’s increasingly clear that a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion isn't just a nice-to-have; it’s a moral and economic necessity for any business to truly thrive.”

It features original data and insights, and an interesting focus on equity, which is lacking in lots of other materials.

  • Equality focuses on fair treatment
  • This cannot be achieved without first achieving equity, which focuses on a fair outcome

Focusing on providing a fair outcome as opposed to fair treatment is important because some individuals face a greater number of workplace barriers than others. These individuals may require different treatment in order to access the same opportunities and achieve the same levels of success (relative to others).

read the ebook
What Women Want 2021 by work180
recruit

inclusive & more equitable hiring practices

Building a diverse, inclusive workforce starts with your recruiting process.

Inclusive Hiring Strategies for Recruiters by Greenhouse Recruiting

Recruitment is a personal affair.

  • Applicants, no matter at what volume they may pour in, are all different individuals. People you are trying to bring into the fold.
  • You’ll hire them based on their personal as well as professional experiences.
  • The difference between one candidate and another, all things being equal, could be how well their personality clicks with the hiring manager.

And as a talent or hiring manager, you hold a lot of the cards.

You’re at the front lines of giving your organization a friendly human face. Directly shaping who gets what opportunities. So a commitment to inclusivity, and recognition of where the organization – or its systems or its people culture – may be falling short has to start with you.

That’s why we’re recommending this particular ebook on diverse and inclusive recruitment. Only companies running Greenhouse will be able to wring the absolute most value out of this one. But it begins with a thorough and honest self-assessment that’s worth exploring at least once.

read the ebook
Inclusive Hiring Strategies for Recruiters by Greenhouse Recruiting

The Complete Guide to Building an Inclusive Recruitment Process by JazzHR

Prioritizing candidate diversity and an equitable experience has to start by revisiting your existing processes. Use this guide to ensure inclusivity is at the core of your hiring.

  • Inclusive job descriptions
  • Advertising channels
  • Screening and interviewing best practices 
  • Onboarding and beyond

Inclusive recruitment is an important first step for employers committed to diversity, but it’s not the full story. Your company culture must support the same inclusive values presented in your recruitment process in order to retain the diverse workforce you’ve built.

Hiring a diverse workforce is one thing; retaining one, as we’ve seen a few times over now, is another.

One thing you can do is put your own efforts and commitments front and center. Consider sharing your journey with your social media audience, your clients, and your competitors to present a transparent view of your organization. Encouraging others to evaluate their recruitment process can be valuable, too.

read the ebook
The Complete Guide to Building an Inclusive Recruitment Process by JazzHR

books on Exploring and Minimizing Biases in the Workplace

Bias can be insidious.

Not inherently – developing and relying on preconceived notions is a natural and normal way for our brains to make good (or “good”) decisions. It helps us make split-second judgment calls. It helps us analyze a situation for danger or reward.

But left unconfronted, it also locks us into bad habits. Every so often we need to actively examine the biases we’ve built up over time and how they’re affecting our decisions.

When it comes to your people, actual individuals, wiggle room is especially important:

  • In fact, the hiring process allows us to be selective, thorough, meticulous
  • There’s less need to rely on prior biases
  • You owe it to candidates and employees to see them for who they are and what they bring to the table

How to Manage Unconscious Bias to Make Better People Decisions by emtrain

Have you ever wondered why many of our biases are unconscious?

“Our brains are wired like relational databases. We’re actually wired to "guess at" answers based on the existing data in our brains. And when we have limited information (limited experiences with specific groups of people), we rely on a minimal set of images and associations. Just like artificial intelligence (AI) triggers responses based on patterns and associations, our brain does the same thing.”

Ah, the efficient machinery of humanity.

As we’ve touched on, hiring can serve as an initial pattern breaker. Though our experience with specific groups may be limited, interviews and other exercises allow us to move beyond that limited information and start forming a picture of a single person.

But in the workplace itself, we aren’t (and shouldn’t be!) grilling our colleagues or team members. Unconscious bias is still at play though. This ebook prepares us to confront our internalized messaging with systematic, probing self-questions and a framework to move forward.

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How to Manage Unconscious Bias to Make Better People Decisions by emtrain

7 Types of Bias that Can Negatively Impact Your Workforce by neogov

Let’s return to the idea of insidious bias.

Some biases are overt and obvious. Others are sneakier. They might take on negative or positive connotations.

It’s crucial that leaders and employees alike educate themselves on the various forms of bias – so that they may learn to recognize their own biased thinking, reflect more closely on those thoughts, and move forward with more awareness and compassion.

What are common biases, both in the workplace and in society at large? This ebook identifies and breaks down:

Confirmation bias

Seeking out or selectively seeing evidence and examples that affirm and reinforce an existing bias.

Recency bias

The idea that more recent experiences weigh more heavily on our minds. It colors your view for better or worse, and exists in the fact that our recent memories are most vivid.

Affinity bias

When someone or something reminds you of yourself, you’re likely to view them more favorably or sympathetically, and act in accordance.

Gender and Stereotype biases

We should all be familiar with these – they’re shaped by both our personal experiences and upbringing, as well as the larger culture.

Halo/Horns effect

Remembering one positive or negative trait or event in particular, and hinging your whole outlook of a person, place, or thing on it.

Idiosyncratic rater effect

This is a toughie – it’s basically passing judgment based on your subjective opinions of good and bad. None of us can completely detach from this, but it’s important to take a look at why you may have those feelings, as well as push back against them.

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7 Types of Bias that Can Negatively Impact Your Workforce by neogov
amplify

Beyond Beginner DEi Tools: books on Global Diversity, Amplifying Inclusion, and Equity in the Workplace

Council Perspectives: Diversity and Inclusion Global Challenges and Opportunities by The Conference Board

There is perhaps no context in which diversity makes more sense than for a global business. Even smaller companies may scout internationally if they’re 100% distributed and have the right red tape snipped.

Admittedly, this write-up on diversity and inclusion best practices is geared toward large businesses that have regional markets legitimately spanning the globe. But there may be some golden nuggets for anyone viewing it through a lens of research and broadening horizons.

  • A global diversity and inclusion movement necessitates experiences and interactions with people outside of one’s own comfort zone.
  • D&I professionals playing an international role need to be culturally competent.
  • Depending on the region of the world, diversity may denote anything from race, ethnicity, nationality, class, or language, to age, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

Exporting strategies from your home base to a new country may render them irrelevant or ineffective. But as you work to understand the relevant culture, politics, economics, and legislation, your viewpoint will naturally open up and enable you to do better DEI work.

This is a collection of firsthand and vetted observations, strategies, and concerns your D&I efforts need to be aware of to perform on an international stage.

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Council Perspectives: Diversity and Inclusion Global Challenges and Opportunities by The Conference Board

Bridging the Pay Gap: Why Pay Equity Pays Off by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)

Equity often becomes the forgotten step-child of DE&I. It’s easier to focus on the diversity and inclusion – efforts that basically everyone acknowledges today, even if begrudgingly.

But compensation is a touchy subject still.

Salary transparency is its own contentious issue, let alone without bringing equity into it. But pay equity is simply not possible without pay transparency. The two go hand in hand.

This research-heavy report is one of the only on this list with a focus on equitable outcomes. (Another being What Women Want in 2021, which shows an interesting correlation with some of the data presented here) According to SHRM,

“Less than half (47%) of HR professionals say their organization is transparent with employees about how pay decisions are made – but more than 9 in 10 think it is important for organizations to be transparent on this issue.”

More than half (58%) of the companies surveyed, however, conduct voluntary pay equity reviews.

In particular, larger companies and/or ones with female CEOs represent the majority. So while diversity and inclusion have broken into the mainstream, finding champions even in allies, equity remains somewhat insular to the people inordinately affected by it (or companies who have more to lose).

read the ebook
Bridging the Pay Gap: Why Pay Equity Pays Off by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)

Measuring the Invisible, Why and How You Should Measure Inclusion by Aleria

DE&I initiatives are what you might call the hot new thing. But within many organizations, these good intentions fail to realize significant, lasting impact.

If diversity initiatives are the norm, why are so many industries and big companies still struggling to achieve an inclusive, diverse workforce? Let’s put the glaring answer aside momentarily (that these industries and companies are largely paying lip service while doing the bare minimum).

Per Aleria,

“Even with clear values, commitment from leadership and access to resources, very few companies can point to significant, quantifiable progress. A study conducted by Boston Consulting Group found that 97% of respondents reported that their companies had a D&I program in place, yet only 25% of them felt they had personally benefited from it.”

The solution?

  • Centering less on diversity itself and tackling the unique challenges posed by inclusion.
  • Figuring out the actionable ways to build an inclusive workplace culture.
  • Creating internal systems that encourage, reward, and cultivate inclusive experience for all employees.

This ebook isn’t a how-to guide, but it does provide a framework to get you started on turning those good intentions into measurable objectives and scalable goals.

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Measuring the Invisible, Why and How You Should Measure Inclusion by Aleria

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