Over the last few months I read a bunch of books, mostly business-related. Here’s the business-y ones:
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
- Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
- Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World
- Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days
- Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
- Makers: The New Industrial Revolution
So what did I learn? Three months of reading business books taught me that I love reading books by white men.
I like to think I’m sensitive to issues of race and gender. I need to double check this.
Let’s run through my list. The authors are: white, white, white, white, white, white, white. Shit.
Let’s look at gender. They’re written by a man, edited by a woman, written by a man with a female co-author, written by men, men, men, and a man. Shit.
Well, I didn’t exclusively review business books. What about the other things? Two books and a podcast. Three male authors. Two white. The books I had noted to read in the future? Written by white dudes.
I made an all male panel.
Maybe it’s “the system’s” fault. The publishing industry favors men and discriminates against women. The publishing industry is overwhelmingly white.
Sure, there are systemic issues, but it’s easy to ignore race and gender as a white man. I can peruse the bookstore, only pick up books by Adam, Ed, Don, Jake, Stephen, and Chris and pretend like this is normal.
Simply put, I did not value diversity when deciding what to read next. Sure I can rationalize it: “Oh, I didn’t put much thought into what I was reading” or “I just picked what looked interesting” But I didn’t pick these books at random. If it had been random, I would’ve had more non-white authors and read more books written by women.
If I had tried for one minute, I could have found books written by people other than white dudes just as easily:
- From the Other Side of the World: Extraordinary Entrepreneurs, Unlikely Places
- Art Thinking: How to Carve Out Creative Space in a World of Schedules, Budgets, and Bosses
- Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town
- Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
- Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done
- Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away
- Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges
- Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person
What did three months of reading mostly business books teach me?
Race and gender are always there, whether I pay attention or not. If you don’t value diversity, you’ll never get any.