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Thought-provoking books your hiring team should read *at least* once

Thought-provoking books your hiring team should read *at least* once

Hiring teams are the gatekeepers of workplace diversity. They help find, shortlist, interview, and select new talent… but they’ll also have their biases. These 5 books will inspire them to transform the way they hire — and encourage others to do the same.

Can your hiring team see the big picture?

When you are tasked with building organizational teams, then you’re also tasked with building a company culture. You can make hires that promote diversity and inclusion, or you can make hires that support “sameness”.

Which camp do you, and your hiring team, fall into?

It’s easy to experience recruitment tunnel-vision

Left unchallenged, hiring teams may be (unconsciously) tempted to hire with bias. They often don’t mean to — they are simply mirroring past behavior or what’s been modeled for them from those who trained them up.

It’s for this reason that business leaders, managers, HR professionals, and hiring teams need to stop taking things at face value. Are we missing what’s really happening in our workplace? Are we reading sufficiently between the lines?

We need to take ourselves beyond the (virtual) four walls of our offices — to learn about the experiences of others and how our actions (and inactions) impact them. Only then can we talk with confidence and authenticity about DEI.

Picking up a book is one of the most immediate, and most affordable ways to gain this new knowledge. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, history, it doesn’t matter — there’s so much to learn from reading other people’s words and hearing their insights.

Five must-read books for modern hiring teams


… To better understand unconscious bias

Most people don’t mean to be biased. But it’s our unconscious biases that are most threatening, as they go on and on unnoticed.

Everyday articulations of unconscious bias are known as ‘microaggressions’ — exaggerated stereotypes, backhanded compliments, unfounded assumptions, or objectification of marginalized groups. While they may seem “harmless” or even jestful, each and every ignored microaggression is a step in the wrong direction. 

🗯 “One of the most critical aspects of inclusion is that it must happen actively

― Tiffany Jana

In ‘Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions’, Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran help organizations recognize and prevent microaggressions so that all employees can feel a sense of belonging. 

What will it teach a hiring team?

This book is a must-have for hiring teams and HR workers — it’s practically been written for them! Jana and Baran offer simple and clear tools to identify and address SAEs (subtle acts of exclusion), including scripts and action plans.

Knowing how to have these conversations in an open-minded, honest way will help you build trust and create stronger workplaces and healthier, happier people. 

And now, next time you witness an SAE during the talent search process, you’ll know how to remedy it.


… To harness their “outsider” power

All employees can be everyday activists, including you. 

Building authority isn’t easy. And that’s especially true when you, yourself, are from an underrepresented group at work. But women, people of color, those from the LGBTQ+ community, and even young and early talent can find a voice to fight for change.

That’s what Stacey Abram’s book, ‘Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change’ helps us achieve. As a lawyer, nonprofit CEO, political leader, and entrepreneur, among many other achievements, Abram has fought her fair share of corners throughout her career — and her “handbook” encourages us all to the same.

What will it teach a hiring team?

In Stacey’s own words, ‘Lead from the Outside…’ is “the outsider’s version of The Art of War”; full of practical tips and exercises to boost your confidence as an inclusive changemaker.

But it’s also an engaging and inspiring story of a Black woman who’s come up against — and overcome — challenge after challenge. Hiring managers and recruiters would simply benefit from hearing what life is like for minority talents.


… To learn about true gender equity

Would you call yourself a feminist? If so, what initiatives are you focusing on to bring gender equity into your workplace? 

‘Hood Feminism’ by Mikki Kendall argues that very few modern feminists look at, or talk about, basic female needs. We’re talking safe streets, access to food, and — yes — a living wage. It’s a timely reminder that while we’re pushing for equal representation at C-Suite level, some women can’t even dream of having a full-time job.

🗯 “Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone instead of insisting that your voice is the only one that matters”

Mikki Kendall

Kendall also reminds us that women can be guilty of oppressing other women; there’s a glass ceiling above where you work, as well as where you live.

What will it teach a hiring team?

This book certainly encourages self-reflection and holds no punches. It will inspire readers to research how they can be a better ally to all women, rather than the privileged few, asking: does white feminism invest more in protecting whiteness than in protecting women? 

“Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone instead of insisting that your voice is the only one that matters,” explains Mikki Kendall. And that’s a mantra any equality-seeking hiring manager should tell themselves — and their team.


… To accommodate neurodiversity in hiring

Neurodiversity is often missed off the DEI to-do list.

We were recently reminded why when, in a Headstart panel discussion with four neurodiversity experts, it was referred to as an invisible ‘condition’. 

Neurodivergent employees also tend to be high-energy, out of the box thinkers; they can excel in a crisis, and be bold problem solvers. But navigating the modern workplace remains a challenge.

‘Neurodiversity at Work’ by Amanda Kirby and (Headstart panellist) Theo Smith is a practical guide that covers how to attract, recruit, and engage neurodiverse talent. And, as such, has direct relevance for all hiring teams for their day-to-day efforts and considerations.

What will it teach a hiring team?

‘Neurodiversity at Work’ provides thorough guidance on how to adapt HR policies, processes, and workplaces to ensure that all employees can reach their full potential. It’s packed full of case studies from leading organizations like Microsoft and Ford, interviews with people like the Head of Talent Acquisition at IBM, and includes tips, advice, examples, and ‘how to’ actions in every chapter. 

In short, this is essential reading for every recruitment professional and will have a significant impact on how they view inclusive hiring practices moving forward.


… To help them become changemakers

Do you wish you had more influence over others? Then this final book in our list is for you.

🗯 “You become excellent by choosing a path that is risky and painful, a path that is not appealing to others.”

Robert E. Quinn

‘Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within’ by Robert E. Quinn is a survival manual for finding our own internal leadership power. It does so by helping us learn new ways of thinking and behaving; to stop being victims and start being powerful agents of change.

What will it teach a hiring team?

Systemic cultures act as a ball and chain in many businesses, slowing progress right down. You’re either told “We don’t have a discrimination problem here”, or you’re told that the answer is yet more diversity training…

The key to combating this, is for HR professionals to deviate from the norm. In Quinn’s words: “You become excellent because you are doing things normal people do not want to do. You become excellent by choosing a path that is risky and painful, a path that is not appealing to others.”

Big, inspiring words there — will you take up the challenge?

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