Book Reviews / Workplace, 19 Feb 24
Review by Kim Sanderson, People Experience Lead
How to be an ally: Actions you can take for a stronger, happier workplace
Epler, M. B. (2022). McGraw Hill, New York
This book humanizes diversity and inclusion and facilitates greater empathy, teaching us that every individual can learn about the imbalance in opportunity and work to correct it.

The author begins by sharing her own workplace experience from 2013 where she encountered sexism, a toxic culture, and microaggressions, with what she describes as hitting the glass ceiling. Ironically, this was an organisation that had hired her so that they could become the go-to firm for women in engineering. Before this role, Melinda was already very experienced in developing innovation and inclusion strategies for start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and global NGOs. You wonder how she will turn this situation around. But Melinda is honest and says that sometimes creating change must be done covertly if the leadership and the culture are not ready to address diversity, equity, and inclusion directly. Ultimately, it was her satisfaction in the role that suffered, and this became the catalyst for Melinda starting her own change company. 

The book gives many historical and recent examples of discrimination (predominantly American), which helps to highlight why becoming an ally is important. She explores the nature of privilege and encourages readers to get uncomfortable and to challenge discrimination when witnessed, otherwise nothing will change. 

She explores intersectionality (which was an unfamiliar term to me) in detail and how all too often a DE&I framework focuses on improving one area of a person’s identity and negating another. The author gives well-balanced and actionable advice to put in place here and in many other areas that will ultimately result in a happier workforce. However, I was sometimes seeking more practical examples and detailed strategies of what other businesses had done so that as an HR professional I could more clearly input these. 

Overall, I found that the book serves as a good starting place and a valuable resource for individuals seeking to become effective allies and for anyone wanting to contribute to a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in bullying prevention, mental health and wellbeing topics.

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