Every year has its challenges. A few years ago, it was Covid-19. The economy influences your business constantly; customer acquisition is a big issue; you’re also laser-focused on staffing — determined to make a change in the people you hire and the workplace you offer them.
This column looks at two books that can guide you through these challenges.
Unless you fall into the non-white, non-cisgender-male category, you may not realize the amount of extra labor that women and minorities engage in at work and do so to be able to work. It’s hidden, and few folks discuss it, but those who experience it, know it.
“Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work Shaping Our Lives and How To Claim Our Power” by Rose Hackman (Flatiron Books) helps you recognize those burdens and, if you’re someone dealing with multiple nettlesome issues, learn how to regain your sanity and your strength.
Women – even, maybe especially, professional women – are asked to “smile more” and are often interrupted, shut down, or talked over. People of color feel that they need to “code switch” and talk differently in the presence of their white co-workers. Black hair is now a workplace issue. Assuming who brings the coffee to a meeting is an issue. Gender is a workplace issue.
None of this – or any other, similar thorniness on the job – is new. In fact, emotional labor has a long, long history and Hackman unpacks it with firmness.
Her book is not an anti-white-men rant. Hackman has a lot to say and she does so respectfully. While a good amount of it may be uncomfortable, leaders, supervisors, business owners, and C-Suiters will be glad they read what she and her case-study subjects have to say. Business owners can no longer pretend not to know this information. “Emotional Labor” truly is an eye-opener.
Another surety: you need to make change, you know it, and you want to do it. You’ve wanted to do it for years, actually, but you’re not sure where to start.
In “Rising Together: How We Can Bridge Divides and Create a More Inclusive Workplace” by Sally Helgesen (Hachette Go), not only will you see why you’re stymied, but you’ll also learn how to move forward.
There are, says Helgesen, eight barriers to making change, including gender and age. Her book reveals how to spot the most common walls between you and an inclusive workplace and how to knock down those walls with communication, equity, and (yay!) humor, and offers tools to implement every workday until inclusivity feels natural and automatic.
If you’re looking to create a better team or a top-notch, first-rate workplace with different and dynamic outlooks, Helgesen’s easy-to-grasp, calm and methodical book is what you need.
Let’s say you’re just hungry for more on this subject – that is, you want to be absolutely sure that forming an inclusive, welcoming, productive workplace is done right. Head to your local book spot, ask your librarian or bookseller for help. They will know what books you need and where you can find them. They’ll help you make change by stepping up to the challenge.