Books On How To Be An Ally & Advance Equity

The long holiday weekend can be a chance to catch up on reading you’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t quite found the time for. Books can be great educators, teaching us about the history of systemic inequality or immersing us in stories of people who have different backgrounds and experiences than ourselves. Learning, and in some cases, unlearning, is an essential first step in allyship. Allyship shouldn’t end with increasing your knowledge, but it is an important place to begin. To help you get started, below is a short list of new books focused on gender equality and building equity for women of color.

Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (And Why It’s Different Than You Think)

By Reshma Saujani

Today, there are nearly two million fewer women in the workforce than there were at the beginning of the pandemic, with mothers and particularly mothers of color leaving at higher rates. This book lays out an action plan for how we can turn a crisis into an opportunity to fix the broken systems that never worked for women—and keep women in the workforce. It covers the history behind how women’s role in the workforce took shape through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as four forces of change with action steps to help advance gender equality at work today.

The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America

By Deepa Purushaman

One in five Americans is a woman of color, and women of color will be the majority of all women in America by 2060, according to Catalyst. These changing demographics alone won’t automatically alter the representation of leadership, where currently only 4% of C-suite leaders are women of color. This book explores topics such as the excess work women of color take on for companies in the name of culture building, confronting microaggressions and outdated norms, and the new rules of power that will help build more inclusive workplaces.

“We need to expand our impressions about what a leader is supposed to look like to allow for more types of leadership to be valued and promoted,” says Deepa Purushaman, author of The First, The Few, The Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America. “If you want to support women of color, you have to let us lead in our own ways.”

Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World

By Eve Rodsky

Time bias may be a big factor for women being pushed out of the workforce during the pandemic due to increased caregiving responsibilities. Rodsky is on a mission to help women reclaim permission to be unavailable from their roles as partner, parent or professional and take uninterrupted time for creative pursuits. She has dubbed this as “unicorn space,” and says it’s not optional, but critical for mental health, happiness and even longevity. Other research has found that creative pursuits can combat burnout and make you better in business.

In these pages you will find how to rethink success and redefine what really matters to you, concrete strategies for giving yourself permission to be unavailable and ask for the creative time you require, and how to enlist your partner for support.

Inclusion Revolution: The Essential Guide to Dismantling Racial Inequity in the Workplace

By Daisy Auger-Dominguez

Human capital executive, workplace culture strategist, and Chief People Officer at VICE Media Group Daisy Auger-Dominguez spreads the message in her new book that an inclusion revolution is about fixing one part of a broken system at a time to create real change. She writes, “Inequity in the workplace is a problem you can solve. I want you to be that leader who shines a light on others, not the one who dims it.”

She gives us a roadmap to do just that, from de-biasing the hiring process to build better teams, to nurturing a people-first culture by creating stronger connections, to setting accountability by measuring progress. Packed with exercises and reflection questions, the book provides concrete tools managers can put into action to address issues of race, power and exclusion.

Her Allies: A Practical Toolkit to Help Men Lead Through Advocacy

By Hira Ali

The majority of leadership positions are still held by men, so engaging more men is essential for advancing gender equality. After all, gender equality isn’t a women’s issue; it’s everyone’s issue. For example, closing the gender wage gap could cut the poverty rate for women in half and add nearly $5 billion to the GDP, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Author Hira Ali writes, “We need men to help us navigate a system and world primarily designed for them—a world where they largely remain a dominant force occupying powerful roles everywhere.” To bring more men into the gender equality conversation, she created this toolkit on how men can be better allies to women in the workplace. It addresses how men can challenge their own unconscious biases, real-world tactics for confronting biased behavior, and ways men can be gender champions in their own organizations.

Build The Damn Thing: How To Start A Successful Business If You’re Not A Rich White Guy

By Kathryn Finney

Only 2% of VC funding goes to women-led companies. Entrepreneur, investor and CEO of Genius Guild Kathyrn Finney has released a guide for women and people of color to jump-start their business and find the right investors. She writes, “While we Builders have the talent, ideas and drive, we don’t have the same access to ready capital.”

Her book offers a framework on how to go from an idea to product to raising your first million in investment. Yes, it offers practical information, such as popular business models and the top six types of funding, but it also provides personal anecdotes from Finney, such as being the only Black woman in an incubator program where she pitched an idea for ethnic hair products, as well as from other startup founders. She writes, “We dreamers build companies because we want a creative life that we control. Entrepreneurship is the tool that helps us achieve this goal.”

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