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What’s on your bookshelf? Asad Dhunna on diversity and finding happiness

The Drum 26 Jun 2020 09:45
What's on your bookshelf? Asad Dhunna on diversity and finding happiness

The Drum’s What’s On Your Bookshelf series asks industry luminaries to share their essential reading lists. In this instalment, The Unmistakables founder Asad Dhunna tells us about his work to diversify the industry and the books that have informed his thinking along the way.

Asad Dhunna founded The Unmistakables with a missions to make diversity everyone’s business. He strongly believes that not only does diversity and our engagement with it nourish us as people, but that there is so much joy to be found in doing so.

Reading, he says, is one of the main ways he informs himself on how to engage with this work – but, he emphasises, the real work begins after you put the book down.

”A lot of my friends make fun of me because I read very little fiction. I mostly read non-fiction, and I don’t really turn to reading for an escape. I go to it to learn.

”That’s something we’ve been doing at our company, because our clients are coming to us and saying ‘I want to learn about diversity, how do I do inclusivity better?’ And rather than saying ‘here are 10 books to go and read‘, we say ‘OK, well here’s what you need to do‘.”

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

A popular recommendation on some of those Instagram anti-racist reading lists, DiAngelo coined the term ‘White fragility’ in 2011 to describe the feelings of anger, shame and guilt often experience by White liberals upon being called out for doing or saying something that causes racial offence or hurt.

What Dhunna says:

”I see it a lot when, for example, people say BAME, because they are too scared to say Black. But it is Black lives that are the ones that need uplifting and hearing.”

Putting the spotlight on groups often marginalised in our society, including women, ethnic minorities, those living with disabilities and the LGBT+ community, Sarpong’s book Diversify looks the hidden cost of exclusion and presents six revolutionary steps to help tackle unconscious bias and form a better, more diverse society.

”I think the key takeaway is some of the data around who are the most marginalised groups in society. Sarpong says that, if you look at it statistically, it is Black men and Muslim men who are most marginalised in society, but that businesses will too often look at outliers as proof of diversity.

Happy by Derren Brown

Yes, that’s Derren Brown, the illusionist of ’and you're back in the room’ fame, writing about our cultural understanding of happiness.

What Dhunna says:

”It’s a great holiday read and while I’m not the biggest fan of his, this book certainly made me see him in a different way.”

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Asad DhunnaDiAngeloDhunnaSarpongBAME