‘A handbook for these troubled times’ Psychologies Magazine
'Engaging and informative … highlights our common humanity’ Kofi Annan
‘A passionately written polemic’ You Magazine
The truth is, INCLUSION is better for EVERYONE. In this empowering call to arms, June Sarpong MBE proves why. Putting the spotlight on groups who are often marginalised in our society, including women, ethnic minorities, those living with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community, Diversify uncovers the hidden cost of exclusion and shows how a new approach to how we learn, live and do business can solve some of the most stubborn challenges we face. With unshakeable case studies, brand-new research from Oxford University, and six revolutionary steps to help you overcome unconscious bias, this book will help you become part of a better society.
The old way isn’t working. This is a case for change.
Diversify is a non-fiction that promotes the acceptance of all through spotlighting certain marginalised communities and both advocating for their inclusion and discoursing upon exactly how this can be so.
I really appreciated how this was formatted into sections according to minority. This begun with a discourse on race and gender, before moving onto those suffering under disablism and ageism. Sarpong either shared her own story or featured another's plight, before moving on to creating a general understanding of the issues these minorities face and proposing a future where these aren't so. Each section also concluded with an action each reader can undertake going forwards, as well as a thoughtful discussion prompt.
This managed to be as emotional as it was analytical, by the inclusion of personal stories alongside statistics as further backing for the prejudice faced by the individuals highlighted. These two elements worked alongside each other to construct a read as impactful as it was inclusive, and as educational as it was empowering.
There are few terms in contemporary politics that hide and evoke ways of making sense of our world and what that world should look like that ‘diversity’. In one sense, like ‘resilience’, it hides and justifies much of the outlook that prioritises individual action and responsibility for making our world a better place, while at the same time limiting structural change to tweaking at the margins of the conditions of living. In another sense, ‘diversity’ is also a fair description of the society in which we live and of how we should look to engage with it. Despite the range of people many of us are likely to or actually do meet with on a regular basis, for the most part the most intense parts of our individual social worlds remain like us. What is more, in these complex social worlds where there is obvious discrimination it is all too easy to settle on a view that it is a big, complex problem that is beyond me to address or bring about any change. Yet the irony of all this is that attitudes towards difference are most inclusive in areas of most diversity, whereas the fear of the other is most strong in the areas of least difference.
June Sarpong, well known in the UK and USA as a high profile media figure mixing with the rich and powerful, is in an unusual place to make a case about the effects of difference in everyday lives: she seems, from the outside, to live in a rarefied world lacking diversity in many ways, and she is – until we look at her ‘backstory’. A black working class woman and daughter of migrants brought up in east London, who attended her local state school, with no obvious indication of formal higher education who began work in youth oriented broadcast media: here is a woman who seems to have lived the Horatio Alger life – yet she does not fall into the ‘you can be anything you want’ claims, retaining a powerful sense of the barriers and challenges involved in ‘making it’ in our current socio-economic world.
It is not surprising however that when she ventures into print to explore ways to make our world more diverse, she means our individual social worlds, and she means how do we as individuals bring about that change: her sense of barriers is mitigated by an outlook that seems to see our current world as flawed, but not the problem. She presents a case that liberal democracy is sound but flawed by a process of ‘othering’ that turns on several key faultlines: class, gender, sexuality, bodily ability, age and outlook. There is no specific exploration of ‘race’ as a distinct category, by my reading in part because race/ethnicity are such pervasive distinctions that it makes more sense from an action oriented outlook to see them as characteristics that build difference into these other categories, especially class & gender, in part because race/ethnicity are so pervasive that it makes sense for her to avoid being depicted as black woman talking about ‘race’, in the current climate that the becomes an easy way to marginalise dissident voices, and in part because discussion of race/ethnicity are all too easy have skewed into a homogenising claim that it is up to 'them', the other, to fit to the ‘mainstream’ rather than work for mutual exchange and engagement. That is not to say that race/ethnicity is ignored – much of the discussion of ‘othered’ men focussed on people of colour. For many, this approach is likely to be unsettling, but it should also be welcomed as an attempt to recast an increasingly fixed position debate.
Sarpong’s approach is intended to be engaging and designed to build action by individuals to increase the difference within their social worlds; this is welcome – too much of this literature is (often abstractly) analytical or big picture focused, leaving many with a sense of ‘what can I do?’ This approach does, however, mean that at times I felt a bit like I was reading a self-help title, which might be a bit harsh and is most likely a product of her efforts to humanise and personalise the issue: it is difficult with these goals not to fall into self-improvement inflected style. That said, it certainly makes the book engaging and accessible, makes the suggestions for action and reflection clear and achievable – Sarpong isn’t looking for us to lead mass action, just to make changes in our daily lives, especially where those changes can have structural effects. The book has good suggestions for things to do, and draws on a solid research base. It is also peppered with a healthy dose of critical self-reflection.
If you’re concerned about the ways we so often seem to talk past each other, if we even talk to or engage with people not like us, this is a good place to start to give some substance to some of the more high-level analyses.
Somebody should rename this "How to Diversify your Dinner Party Conversation" * (Not my own words)
I'm no expert in the subject but from a writing point of view the topics felt weirdly mangled together. The examples jumped between UK and the USA but didn't feel natural in their comparison. There were some strong statements backed up with weak evidence ... And finally, a lot of the 'personal anecdotes' felt like name dropping and sadly made it feel even less relatable. Perhaps after all it's just an advert for the author's website? (Which, by the way, didn't work when I went on it. Was unable to take the 'isms' test she talks about relentlessly)
Don't get me wrong, if this book is powerful and helped anyone them I'm super glad it was written. It has a clear goal and will no doubt expand a lot of people's tolerance. But to have "Conversation Questions" and "Action Points" such as "Why not try shadowing a disabled person for a day?" just made me cringe a little.
Rated 2 stars (maybe even 2.5) out of respect to the author and because it makes an important topic more digestible.
Diversify by June Sarpong is the most important book that I have read this year. This is a pretty big claim. As a prolific reader, I have read lots of books but none of them resonated with me the way that Diversify has done.
Sarpong examines the diversity in culture and how we often see this as threatening rather than celebrating our differences. She offers practical advice to some of the biggest problems that actually seem so obvious that it is silly how none of it has been put into action already.
What is great is that you could argue the book is misleading. You may be forgiven in thinking that Diversify is just another book that shows how white supremacy is bad and how everyone is still living under the rule of a white patriarchal society – yes, we are, but Diversify is not that book. Diversify looks at oppression from all different levels – race, gender, sexuality etc. It is fascinating, well researched, and entertaining.
So, yes, to reiterate my earlier point, Diversify by June Sarpong is the most important book that I have read this year. It should be placed in all school libraries, studied on the curriculum and be sent to every politician in the country. That is how much I believe in this book.
An important book which will likely not resonate with everyone. Here is a book driven by the considerable power of Sarpong’s research into social inclusion, social mobility and questions around British geopolitics. Somewhat curious to her book, was placing a round figure to the economic impact of social exclusion of minority groups, which then serves as fodder for a heavy discussion around perceived policy necessities from all parties in British politics. Where the book losses it’s way might be in her digressions, for example where she recounts how an accident when she was aged 15 serves as the basis for her views around the need for greater integration of individuals with physical disabilities. No new surprises here; a well-known British TV personality draws upon her illustrious and accomplished career to deliver what is for all intents a well-purposed self-help book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I wanted to like this book, but it read to me as what you get if you take an equal rights agenda, and see exactly how much capitalism, centrism and missing the intersectional point you can get to stick. The penultimate section talks about talking to and tolerating the opposing view - personally, politically, religiously - and finding a "common ground" but how can you find a common ground with someone who thinks it's okay to treat you like a second class citizen, unless it will make them rich? I understand her point that in not paying attention to the other, we may find ourselves blindsighted, but you can't have equal rights in the current system - capitalism will always lead to someone else having more power over you. I didn't listen to part 8, I've had enough. This isn't even to get into all of the specific issues - her faulty definition of class, her totally missing the point of disability advocacy, and her mentioning trans people repeatedly but making very few specific points about them save for vague references to gender roles. Disappointed that I wasted my time with this one.
The discussion about diversity and Inclusion is unfortunately not over, which is why, Diversify is such an important read. It talks about poverty, generalisations, fear of different cultures and more in an open and honest way and really shows why diversifying our society is so important. an excellent informative read
I originally asked for this book because I was interested in the 6 stories, rather than the 6 steps. The 6 stories include discussions of racism, ageism, homophobia, and much more. The 6 steps are:
Challenge Your Ism Check Your Circle Connect with the Other Change Your Mind Celebrate Difference Champion the Cause I honestly don’t know if the 6 steps would really make a difference in anyone’s life, because surely the type of person to read this book would be a person who already does these types of things? It definitely read like a diversity 101 sort of book, which is definitely a necessary start for a lot of people. Nothing really made me reconsider things that I thought I understood, as other books like Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race did. While I don’t think all books that talk about race and other such things need to educate, because this book so clearly set out to change people’s minds and educate them, I think that that’s a fair judgement.
I was a little bit disappointed by the sexuality section, probably because that’s the section that I know the most about. While I’m not trans, there were a couple of sections that could have been better phrased when talking about transgender people. There was also very little discussion of sexualities or gender identities other than lesbian, gay, and trans. I would have loved to see discussions about bisexual and nonbinary people, as a start.
However, this was an easy book to read, especially given its reliance on heavy statistics that could have been very dull indeed. June Sarpong has clearly done her research, even in topics that she has clear lived experience with. I would definitely recommend if not reading this book, then at least going to the website that goes alongside the book. There’s a great test to check your ‘ism’, which I would highly encourage everyone to do.
Terrible. In every respect. I haven't come across diversity literature that attempted to cover all protected characteristics under diversity, and thought that this could form a complex, interesting and intertwined read forming a strong narrative around intersectionality. Suffice to say, if you've seen a few BBC documentaries and kept up with the news over the last few years, then there is nothing new to learn in this book. In addition to the lack of research and information that went into the writing, the author does an extremely poor job of integrating the statistics and facts into the narrative, and in numerous instances misinterpreted data and findings. Take this aside, and the author spent far too much time name dropping, providing singular subjective experience and jumping from one story to the next without worry as to how the chapter or discussion was developing. Finally, this book had the chance to combine the characteristics in a discussion of intersectionality, but didn't. It felt lazy. For feminism there are many better books "A Good Time to be a Girl", for class and education "A University Education", race "Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People".
I can't knock June Sarpong for wanting to write this book, she gives an important message which is that diversity in the workplace actually makes good business sense. Businesses with colleagues from a wide variety of backgrounds perform better and are able to appeal to a broader audience. All good stuff but I think Sarpong shies away from uncomfortable truths in favour of trying to appear objective. Diversity in the workplace is important to make businesses better, yes, but it's also important because workplaces should reflect the communities they serve. It's also important to call out the nepotism, discrimination and bias that has kept marginalised groups out of the boardroom and allowed the same group of rich, white, straight men to hold power for far too long. I think she could have gone deeper into some of these issues, been more forthright in her position and I worry that she avoided this to make her book more palatable.
Well-intentioned book encouraging us all to broaden our circle and promote diversity, but at the end of the day it is rather unimaginative, and presents no evidence based positive actions. Disappointingly anodyne. Not so much a call to arms, as a call to have dinner parties.
This was neither a fast nor an easy read. As all the data and talking points are focused on the US and UK, I had to think about how it translated to where I live (South Africa). I only added my views about chapter 1 in case anyone was interested.
Reading chapter 1, I couldn’t help but see the plight of the white man in South Africa – as he is the “other” in my country. Not allowed to speak up at work for fear of losing the entry level job they had struggled to get in the first place despite their qualifications, always having to appear non-threatening, working twice as hard as those of the “norm” who get away with doing almost no work, having to make themselves small as to not rock the boat. This is what the average white millennial man has to deal with in South Africa. I know, because I watch and listen. The question at the end of the chapter: “Should positive discrimination be employed to ensure ethnic minorities are represented proportionally…?” Looking at BBBEE [Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment; which purpose is to bridge the gap between formal and substantive equality to ensure that all people in South Africa fully enjoy the right to equality] implemented disproportionately: no. Just as with any rule or law, there are those who abuse it to discriminate based on whatever marginalisation they want. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t happen. In a perfect world, the rule wouldn’t be necessary.
The other chapters about men were interesting and enlightening. I like how she doesn’t dismiss what causes radicalisation and how she looks at possibilities of reconciliation.
I enjoyed the section about women and how she named self-doubt (and other voices that hinder growth) Agyness. I can totally see when Agyness has been in charge of my own life.
The sections on class, ableism, LGBTQ, ageism, and then religion and politics, were all well-researched and written. I liked how she showed how differences can be overcome if we only tried. I do think that the LGBTQ section was a little thin compared to the other sections.
I liked the FAQ and other resources given to help the reader implement the lessons in this book in real life.
A good examination of why people see those outside of their circle as “other” and how to overcome it. A must-read for anyone who has a dream of equality, fairness and freedom for all.
"Genetically, human beings are 99.9% identical... and yet we choose to focus so much on the 0.1% that makes us different... This focus has been the cause of so much tension and strife in the world, yet by re-evaluating the importance we place on it, we have the power to change how it affects our future. What if we celebrated that 0.1% rather than feared it? What amazing things might follow for our society?" - @junesarpo, Diversify
The dissection of the other - the other man, woman, class, body, sex, age and view, all to determine how we can move forward as a successfully diverse society. June provides examples of "others" and suggests ways in which we as individuals, and society as a whole, can do better to make "others" more inclusive. Something as simple as widening your friend group to include people from all different aspects of life is a step in the right direction.
June even takes this diversifying philosophy into an economist way of thinking. An example of this is if we make the initial investment to allow a diverse workforce to prosper, the economy will become stronger, not weaker like some fear. This was made very clear by allowing women in the workforce. Let's continue these strides to diversify the workforce by investing in more accessible spaces for other genders, BIPOC, people with disabilities and more! Studies show this will strengthen the world economy.
After you read this book, you will feel compelled to challenge your isms, check your circle, connect with others, change your mind, celebrate difference and champion the cause!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
i cannot believe that i am offering this book an earnest review. i truly mean no respect by it.
that’s not to say that i mean this book no respect at all. when grounded in experience there is a convincing quality to how june sarpong writes, especially on the impact that modern policy has had on marginalized people.
but the rest?
oof. this book clings to an absurd central premise that society’s ultimate answer to itself does not at its root concern any systemic issues but instead stems solely from a lack of diversity. it’s a position so barely viable that directly contradicting ideologies are offered up as solutions mere pages apart.
am i for a more just world? sure. but you see, the quiet part to the loud of DIVERSIFY is thus: so long as the elite consider you worthy - and that’s... exactly how capitalism currently operates? to be radical in the spirit of MLK, gandhi & any other declawed mascots of progress invoked here requires our liberation, not further subjugation. but what else can you expect from someone who extols the virtues of “diverse” scotsmen who “secured territory for the british empire”, or exemplifies peter thiel as “exactly the kind of bravery we need to see more of in business”.
even if i agreed in principal, this book is frequently incomprehensible, bloated and incoherent. i was gifted it along with a note reading: “i hope you enjoy it as much as i did”. lucky for us all, our enjoyment is located in the other.
I listened to this as an audiobook and really enjoyed it. It is a call to arms to ensure that diversity and inclusivity is on the agenda everywhere and most of the content should (hopefully) be common sense and common practice for most people. Unfortunately though, we know it isn’t always.
I enjoyed the way the sections were broken down into minority groups, this made it easy to hone in on the areas which most affect me or that I wish to learn more about. Sarpong’s examples are relevant, entertaining and well thought through. Her “stats” sections make for an interesting read and it is clear that she has put a lot of research and work into this topic over many years making herself a leading voice on the subject.
Her financial angle is one I found particularly interesting. She presents that diversity is good for the economy and circles back to this a number of times, demonstrating how this could be the case. Whilst I don’t believe that all her ideas and proposals are fully realistic, there are some really good points in there which we could all use to carry forward in our lives. Her observations on the impending social care crisis, overlooking of young people and the missed economic opportunities of not fully engaging the disabled population are really quite astute. A book I will look to return to every few years to check myself against.
What an amazing book. This has really helped me to understand why our society is the way that it is. If you are new to diversity and activism this book makes a great starting point. If you feel well versed in these topics there are still plenty of things you can take away with you after reading this.
Everyone should read this.
I love June's writing style, informative and easy to understand without being patronising. She encourages and challenges the reader to discover and confront what their own prejudices are without guilt tripping them. And urges them to learn about the other side's point of view - no matter what that other may be (e.g. politics, race, class, sexuality, gender...)
The book ends with actions that people can take to make a difference and help bring about change.
I knocked off a star because, as usual for these kinds of books that have a section on sexuality, bisexuality is barely mentioned. A simple page covering bi stats and issues would have made all the difference. (E.g bisexuals have higher levels of poverty than LG people. More likely to suffer mental health problems, be affected by intimate partner violence etc etc.) Sad to see it pushed to one side yet again. Especially when other topics in the book get so much more coverage!
Notes: - Really like the action point and discussion point bits, makes it feel a very active book and like I’m *doing something* to effect change rather than just reading about it again - Slightly long to hold my interest all the way so I drifted in and out which is what stopped it going higher than a 4 - Lots of stuff I’ve been reading lately has been quite US centric so it’s good to read something that has a British POV as well - Good balance of academically backed up research and stats and facts and stuff, along with more light, enjoyable, relatable personal experiences and opinion and everything - Feels more inclusive than some of the things I’ve read previously - genuinely concerned with true diversity and intersectionality and equity as a whole concept rather than looking at a specific issue, group, or protected characteristic - More accessible and makes change feel possible - very forgiving and not judging, talking down to, or expecting too much of its readers, but focuses on solutions rather than problems and recognises the gravity of small steps and positive intention, more flies with honey approach
Format: I started reading a paperback of this, but I was struggling to get through it so switched to audiobook. Month Read: Aug 22 Recommend: Yes
So my star rating is not glowing, but I still recommend this, why? Well I read Diversify as I already have an interest in D&I, and I recently started a new job in HR so was excited to read something applicable to my role. However, as I already have an interest in D&I, some of the book was telling me things I already knew and so I was becoming slightly disengaged/finding it hard to read. Don't get me wrong, it was super interesting and I still learnt a lot/was interested in the author's own stories. But I didn't enjoy it as much as some deep dive books I have read.
The book covers so many facets of D&I, so I really do recommend it as a great non-fic pic if you want to get an overview on D&I in the UK and US. And it has lots of great talking points so would make a great book for book club too.
In 'Diversify', June Sarpong proposes a simple strategy to help build a more peaceful and prosperous society. She suggests that we all try engaging with our "Other" in a stride to be more welcoming to minorities and marginalized - or otherized - groups of people. With scientific facts and statistics alongside pop culture references and personal anecdotes, Sarpong explains how diversifying personal and corporate spheres can help you or your company to grow and reap the benefits as one. I consider Diversify a starter pack, something simple that you can apply to your day-to-day life and can also serve as an introduction to further reading on discrimination and systematic oppression. There are some good strategies and pointers that I'll try to incorporate into my own practices and out of all the "Others", I found the group of white working-class men the most enlightening and at first the most unexpected. Which leads me to the first of the few things that bothered me: What about the group of the upper-class, the rich, the 1%? I would have loved to have seen some light shed on their situation and yet, I'm sure they were purposefully left out. Despite this group being a minority, I contend that they are in fact not oppressed, but an in-depth analysis of why this is could derail the book's main intent and diminish its practicality. I just wish there could have at least been a short explanation, since this won't be crystal clear to everyone and the reason why they're neither featured nor oppressed could be key to fully understanding why certain groups of people are otherized in the first place. The "de-otherization" of trans people fell a little short. I believe the usage and understanding of "biological gender" is misconstrued and that "gender you were born" should read "gender you were assigned". Do the arguments rely too heavily on financial incentives? Sometimes the call for diversity sounded a lil too much like a sales pitch. Then again, this guide is meant to be practical and there's a frightening amount of people who wouldn't give diversity a second thought if it weren't for some kind of financial benefit. So how else could you reel them in? I'm aware that any answer to this question wouldn't be as neat and nicely packaged as 'Diversify', but it bothers me nonetheless.
An excellent book for anyone who is studying or interested in equality and diversity. Sarpong tackles this difficult and expansive subject by breaking it down into manageable chapters which focus on each group that is typically excluded from society and examines how harmful this is for civilisation as a whole. Gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability and class are all looked at in detail.
Perhaps more importantly for those who may simply not value the human costs and problems arising from this issue (ahem, politicians, big business CEOs, civil servants, policy makers et al), Sarpong has conveniently analysed and added up the economic cost of excluding certain groups and explains how much money and profits are potentially lost each year by not being an inclusive society. A must-read for everyone.
A book which covers diversity in many forns. From under represented men to disabled people, from social class to women and sexality to diverse thought whether political or religious, the book seeks to challenge the assumptions we make. Each section talks about the old way giving examples of what was, then explores the status quo while giving examples of actions eg to ask a under 18 how they would vote in an election or shadowing a disabled person. The book blends stats with storries, however i would have liked to see more examples from outside the UK and US. As a black, female from a socio disadvantaged background, with lived experience of disability, Sarpong’s passion for diversity shines through. The book felt honest, engaging and actionable and i suggest reading the book with others and challenging your thought.
This is a book I regretted listening to - and if you are thinking of giving me a present, this book would be a great choice 😁
The amount of learnings in this story, using personal examples, known scenes, clear data is spot on. I found out right in the beginning something I never realised: I have a prejudice against Tory supporters! How can I defend diversity and inclusion and do that? Well, I am human.
Really interesting perspective from the expected gender, LGBTQ, religion without forgetting ableism and adding to the mix age, politics and wealth (the white working man chapter was an eye opener).
I learned so much and it's a shame I don't have a print version to make hundreds of notes and reminders.
Well written and easy to read, this book is about what can be done to shift racial inequities... and the power of the change that would occur if we do. No shaming and blaming, just the facts about the effects of historic racial inequity, how to understand the historical context, why it matters, and best of all some suggestions for what we can personally do. It is an important resource that offers context and content with exemplary solutions for a very timely issue. The world would be a better place if this became required reading material in schools. I'm sure glad that I did. Bravo June Sarpong.
This was a very informative and thought provoking read. It covered discrimination of several minority groups as well as other areas of inequality which we would not have thought of. It was really great to shine a light on the different experiences dependant on gender, class, age, physical health, political affiliation, religion, and age.
The book itself touched on personal experiences of the author, as well as informative statistics and evidence which is really quite eye opening. The context uses examples both from America, and the UK, which can be a very helpful comparison as I have found some other books (particularly on racism) to only be focused on one western culture/society.
But most importantly, this book is not just to read, it is also one which prompts you to reflect and make change. At the end of each chapter there are points to consider, and suggestions on the actions that we can take as individuals to begin challenging inequality in our everyday lives.
Having the opportunity to further discuss this book with colleagues really helped reinforce the take home points, and also encouraged us, as a group, to come together and recognise where the inequalities lie. But even more so.. what we can do about it.
I found this a very insightful and thought provoking read. It made me consider how I can continue to engage in this type of literature on a more regular basis. I gave it a five star review on Goodreads.
I'll be honest this book was a lot. It tries to tackle multiple issues in one book which are usually separated. It is also important to note that the author does not have experience in every since issue because there are so many which means it is mostly factual. That being said I think this is a great way to start thinking about these issues side by side and how the intersect within society. As I have said before it is very fact and stat heavy so might not be for everyone but a very interesting read for those who wish to educate themselves.
If this book doesn't make you think about your circle, enviroment and what all of us can do to make a change for a more diverse better world, I guess it wasn't just for you. I was left with a hurricane of ideas and inspiration to take from this book and even though I was happy to see that with the majority of this book themes I had still had a look into as to what a single person can do, it still left me with new perspective and insights which I think is so important that we simply keep the conversation going and all of us try to be part of a society that is more open and aware.
A decent exploration of how to diversify our society; there are a lot of things I liked about this book, including the action points, personal anecdotes to break up the otherwise dense non-fiction, and some chapters were definitely stronger than others. I do wish Sarpong would have been less afraid to express opinion (especially in the face of communities that definitely don’t support diversity) as it was clear this was held back; I feel it would have only lended to her argument. Still some good points for the average reader!