Shedding light on class division, this book offers solutions to class bias in the workplace by analyzing real experiences, social norms, education, wealth, and more.
The renewed focus on class, race and equality in the workplace and beyond is making an indelible mark on society. This clarion call for change is sweeping inequality from every corner of the nation, including law enforcement, schools, and businesses. And within the past five years, diversity and inclusion, as well as unconscious bias, have been the main drivers of organizational training, politics, and community engagement.
What’s Your Zip Code Story helps clarify the intersection of class bias and racial disparity in the workplace and arms organizations with the knowledge to not only have productive discussions, but also adopt effective solutions. Gross instructs class-migrants—whether college students, recent graduates, or overlooked employees—on how to climb the career lattice and transform themselves from undervalued employees to respected leaders. The book tackles challenges that class-migrants encounter when navigating the workplace and provides operative practices that can be utilized to hone new professional skills and drive positive change in workplace culture. It is a powerful tool that will inspire marginalized employees who are hungry for personal and professional growth, as well as give insight to business leaders seeking a new way to engage their teams. Through the lived experiences of the author and research-based strategies, readers will find insights on how to increase workplace engagement and business performance.
Christopher “CJ” Gross is a TEDx speaker, international organizational development consultant, and founder of Ascension Worldwide, a full-service minority-owned consulting firm committed to helping clients achieve workplace inclusion, employee, and client diversity. CJ has 18 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, local and national nonprofits, and government agencies. He also serves as a business management, adjunct faculty for the Community College of Baltimore County and a diversity, equity, and inclusion master faculty for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Center for Innovation. CJ is a former mechanical designer with General Electric, avid traveler, and adventure junkie living in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania with his wife Kerryann. Together they have three children who are attending college.
Foreword: by Howard J Ross
1 Why Does Social Class Matter?
2 My Zip Code Story
3 What's Your Zip Code Story?
4 Zip Code Bias
5 10 Things Managers and Class Migrants Need to Know
6 How Businesses can Incorporate Social Class into their Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Initiatives
7 The Power of Belonging
8 Mentorship the Bridge to Equity
About the Author
If leaders aren’t talking about social class at work, they’re “missing a big piece of the puzzle,” warns diversity and inclusion consultant Gross in this original…guide. Gross asks both employees and leaders to reflect on their “zip code stories,” or the childhood experiences and cultural norms that reflect their class…. It’s a much needed conversation starter about class in the workplace[.]
A TEDx speaker, consultant, and founder of a minority-owned consulting firm, Gross goes beyond class and society and takes a deep dive into zip-code stories— evidence that where you live influences your quality of life and the opportunities you’ll have. He examines topics like racial disparity, workplace culture, and other boundaries that define who we are because of where we live. Chapters cover tips for managers and class migrants, the power of belonging, mentorship, and more. The book is punctuated with interviews from people across the U.S. to highlight such revelations as fewer than 60 percent of first-in-family college students complete their degree because of lack of support and understanding from family. Gross challenges readers to recognize their own zip-code stories and how they shape their views of others. Additionally, he encourages us all to talk to one another about our backgrounds and beliefs to develop empathy and relationships. Emigrants, workplace-diversity-and-inclusion leaders, college students, and those interested in social justice will be drawn to this book.
[H]is book engagingly addresses why social class matters in the workplace. Beginning with his own story, Gross provides numerous examples of how social class impacts every area of life and offers suggestions for class migrants to successfully move up the ladder. He also coaches managers on how to retain employees with different class backgrounds. Filled with stories, the book addresses topics such as workplace bias, the power of belonging, mentorship, and the integration of social class into diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives. Written in a simple, easy-to-read style, this book provides organizations and migrants with strategies for thinking about class and race in their places of work. Recommended. All readership levels.
This timely and important book by my colleague, CJ Gross, brings a fresh and innovative perspective to our nation’s current discussion on issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in the workplace. Even with the growing national awareness of the critical need for greater diversity and inclusion in our nation’s institutions, the oversized role that a mere zip code has played in a person’s life is all too often omitted from this conversation. From the very beginning of our nation, a person’s place of birth has had a profound impact on almost every aspect of their opportunities in life. Drawing on his own life experiences, as well as the experiences of others, CJ speaks to this critical reality. He does so by not only providing organizations with tools and strategies to help facilitate a more inclusive and equitable workplace, he does the same for his fellow “class-migrants” who are looking to climb the social and workplace ladder. For everyone who is a stakeholder in the diversity and inclusion discussion, this is a must-read book!
What's Your Zip Code Story? shows why it's important to include class in your diversity initiatives, not because class is more important than race but because you won't be able to effectively recruit and retain people of color without addressing class as well as race—and because first-generation professionals of all races are, in effect, migrating from one class culture to a different one. This book will help.
11/22/2021, Publishers Weekly: This book was included in the “New and Forthcoming Titles on Diversity” feature.
2/10/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup of upcoming titles in African American studies for 2022.
5/19/22, Technical.ly: CJ Gross was interviewed about the book.
8/15/22, Greater Diversity News: CJ Gross and the book were highlighted in this article.
8/23/22, Philadelphia Inquirer: CJ Gross and the book were featured in an article about what business owners should look for in diversity educator hires.
10/1/22 Construction Executive: CJ Gross and the book were featured in an article about bias in the workplace.