Book Review by Taylor Berrett
Make Your Organization More Inclusive
Keesa Shreane, author of Corporations Compassion Culture, is the Global Partner director at Refinitiv, where her focus is on supply chain risk and environmental, social, and governance data and partnerships. Her job is to work at the intersection of business and social issues, something we can surely all relate to no matter the career in which we find ourselves. For many people, our careers are what we devote much of our waking lives to pursuing— and whether those workplaces are diverse, equitable, and inclusive is a central question that must be addressed within any organization.
With rave reviews from the likes of thought-leader royalty such as Seth Godin, Daniel H. Pink, and Reshma Saujani, Corporations Compassion Culture may seem like it’s been positioned to be a hit. But make no mistake— it backs up its early buzz with truly impactful insights about how businesses and leaders can bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront at their organizations.
Increased Inclusivity Benefits Everyone
Schreane’s work really helps boil down the matter of inclusivity in the workplace to its two most central motivations— first, that ensuring all people feel their voices can be fully heard is the right thing to do, and second, that it also makes teams and organizations objectively better.
The best part of Corporations Compassion Culture is that it addresses every step of the ‘funnel’ through which employees pass along their careers, and how current practices affect each of those steps and can be improved.
For example, in the first chapter Schreane has this to say about corporate recruitment and going beyond it as the catch-all for organizational diversity:
“Increasingly, companies and institutions are aware that recruitment and hiring efforts are insufficient for sustaining nimble and effective inclusive teams… We believe this book will help support leaders in their current diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, or assist them as they begin to make those changes for the first time. There is a great deal that leadership and employees can do to shift the culture of the workplace, receive and support a more diverse workforce, help it to realize its potential, and yes, benefit from its creativity and strength.”
Interweaved in that quote is a central theme from Schreane’s vital book— diversity doesn’t just happen simply because the people at an organization want it to. Getting everyone together in a room and talking about how important diversity is, and reminding them to make inclusion a priority, won’t result in overnight change.
Schreane repeatedly advocates for continued, ongoing progress that’s fueled by concrete goals and consistent commitment. It’s not just about changing people’s minds, it’s also about changing the systems we work in themselves to more effectively allow for underrepresented or marginalized voices to make themselves heard.
Real Stories, Powerful Lessons
Another effective element of Schreane’s book is its use of detailed true stories of people from underrepresented groups experience either deliberate or systemic discrimination along their career paths. Not designed to inspire guilt or shame those who have allowed this discrimination to transpire, these stories help provide those of us who don’t come from these underrepresented groups to better appreciate the small ways these identity-related aggressions can weigh down an otherwise promising career. There’s the story of Dr. Adebayo-Opeyemi, who was unable to begin her first year of residency on time because someone failed to take the time to spell her name properly in the hospital’s system. Or the story of Jaymie, a Latinx queer woman who struggled with the question of whether she should dress in a traditionally feminine way in order to downplay her queerness, or whether doing so would suggest she was trying to look ‘sexy’ to get ahead at work? Roadblocks like these are commonplace for countless people, and it’s rewarding and edifying to see them written here with such clarity.
The Bottom Line
We highly recommend Schreane’s book as a guide for helping create more inclusive cultures, as it teaches essential skills that all leaders will need to develop an ability to recognize identity-based pain and incidents, learn how to address them, and discover how to improve the culture of your workplace and the retention of your amazing, diverse team.