15 Feb Book Review
Birds of All Feathers: Doing Diversity and Inclusion Right
Last month I finished reading a great book by Michael Bach called Birds of All Feathers: Doing Diversity and Inclusion Right. Bach is the CEO of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and in this book he shares simple and powerful pieces about diversity, inclusion and how organizations can implement both in a modern workplace as a key business enabler. He shares his perspective, data and key concepts with humour and he does it in a way that is informative and easy to read.
I want to share why I liked this book, some of the important concepts and takeaways I had, and why I am recommending you add it to your reading list for 2021.
WHY I LIKED THIS BOOK
Birds of All Feathers resonated with me because it provides clear and simple ways to think about complex concepts – diversity and inclusion (D&I) that are effective in helping the reader understand them. Bach’s approach of defining what diversity, inclusion actually mean, and providing specific definitions of groups that are less represented, is particularly helpful as we often have our own assumptions of what groups make up any diversity equation. He incorporates the Canadian context throughout the book with relevant data, historical context and insights that are relevant and easy to digest. He highlights key takeaways at the end of each chapter and at 190 pages, it’s a quick read.
Bach takes a holistic view of each of these topics and outlines the specific business outcomes and impact that a thoughtful and focused D&I program can deliver. He also provides practical ideas and steps that organizations can implement immediately to begin their diversity and inclusion journey.
Below I’ll highlight some of the key concepts and takeaways that resonated with me.
KEY CONCEPTS AND TAKEAWAYS
As an HR pro these insights helped further shape my thinking from what we “should” do or what is the “right thing to do” to considering an effective D&I approach as a “smart” and “critically important thing to do”. Diversity, inclusion and equity are often used as buzzwords and as aspirational concepts, but often lack a common definition, dedicated focus or resourcing to be meaningful. Here are some quick snippets from the book that I found useful and thought I would share them here.
Bach posits the idea that a clear business case for diversity, inclusion and equity needs to be build and incorporated into the business planning process and needs to be seen as an enabler of organizational strategy. Any D&I initiative should be communicated consistently and regularly throughout the organization. It should make sense to all employees and they should be able to explain in simple terms why it’s important to their company.
2 Models of D&I
There are two different models of diversity and inclusion – social justice and creativity and innovation. One is focused on injustices in society and the other on addressing societal challenges through using diverse talent. These models and their definitions helped makes sense of what motivations and outcomes might inform an organization’s strategy and mandate. Powerful.
Diversity Doesn’t Equal Inclusion
Inclusion needs to be a part of the culture before an organization can hire diverse candidates. If you want diverse candidates to stay and make meaningful contributions, they need to be able to deliver results. As an example, the author shares an example of maternity leave policies and whether or not they include all parents. Are your policies, processes and procedures effectively supporting D&I, or are they compliant only?
Attracting Talent Differently
Bach provides practical tips on how to update recruitment practices and materials to attract different candidates both internally and externally. He places an emphasis on attracting more and different talent. Having diverse groups review job descriptions or connecting with professional associations that represent diverse groups through community outreach are just some of the valuable ideas he shares. They got me thinking about what I could do differently going forward to be sure.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
I am recommending this book because Bach’s statement, “Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice”, is profoundly simple. If organizations do not focus on diversity and inclusion as part of their ongoing business strategy, they will not attract more and different talent needed to help solve the critical business problems facing organizations and industry today, nor will they have the competitive edge they will need to succeed.