Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
Grow team members gathered around a table for book club discussion
May 24, 2021

Grow Hosts Monthly Book Clubs for Discussion, Reflection and Learning

Opportunities for learning and discussion around difficult yet important topics are necessary in any workplace that’s striving toward the shared goal of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. At Grow, one way our team members come together is through our monthly book club — a chance for team members to share their thoughts, personal stories and reflections while discussing various topics in depth.

What we’re reading

The casual and leisurely nature of a book club allows more people to participate and feel comfortable, and the topics of the books selected encompass a wide variety of themes and provide ample food for thought. Book selection often mirrors cultural awareness initiatives happening at Grow, such as celebrations of Black History Month, Women’s History Month and more. Just a few of the recent books selected by our team for the book club include:

  • “Code Talker” by Chester Nez, the first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII
  • “In the Country We Love: My Family Divided” by Diane Guerrero, a moving and heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the struggles of undocumented residents in this country
  • “The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food” by Marcus Samuelsson, which highlights the food, culture and history to showcase the diversity of Black cooking today
  • “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” by Emmanuel Acho, a memoir about his lived experience that aids in understanding systemic racism
  • “Notorious RBG” by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, which highlights the life and accomplishments of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • “Ordinary Girls” by Jaquira Díaz, a memoir about her childhood and adolescence in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach
  • “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong, an autobiographical essay collection that delves into Asian American identity through the lens of history, psychology and the author’s own lived experiences

Book clubs are held almost monthly throughout the year, so team members can sign up online as their time and interest allows. They appreciate the chance to connect personally with their peers through shared experiences, and many times, the theme of the book resonates on a personal level. Daneli Acevedo, Legal Analyst, shared, “’Ordinary Girls’ was my favorite book so far. It resonated with me personally because my father-in-law, who recently passed away, would share similar stories, including talking about the history of salsa and culture of Puerto Rico.”

Learning through dialogue

Led by other team members serving as facilitators, our book club is a great opportunity for dialogue and sharing of different perspectives. The discussions are open, interactive, fun, and most importantly, great safe spaces for learning and reflection. Amanda Serrano, Senior Programmer Analyst, said, “In book club we are genuinely curious but respectful. Having that safe place to talk about hot topics has helped me understand many different points of view and opened my eyes to many events or ideas that I was unaware of.”

Mark Osborne, Assistant General Counsel, shared, “I’ve enjoyed participating in two book club discussions over the past year: ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man’ by Emmanuel Acho and ‘Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption’ by Bryan Stevenson. These sessions afforded me a valuable opportunity to gain new perspectives, to learn and grow, and to engage with new team members in a different forum.”

Broadening our horizons

Reading resonates across many personality types and between differing professional roles. Anyone can participate in any book club, no matter their background in the topic and even if the book is outside of their normal comfort zone. Dominique Dearing, Compliance Specialist, shared, “I know this sounds cliché, but one of the biggest things I have learned from book club is to never judge a book by its cover. You might think you know what a book is about, but you have no idea how much you don’t know and how much you will learn. I found out so much about Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the book ‘Notorious RBG,’ and I live by this quote from her: ‘You can disagree without being disagreeable.’ It’s so simple yet so hard to accomplish, and she did it so well. That’s what book club is all about — you get to have these great epiphanies, not just from the books, but from the engagement with others. You have the opportunity to get other people’s perceptions and viewpoints, which broadens your horizon.”

We look forward to many more book clubs as we individually continue the process of self-development and inclusion. Ashunta Thornton, HR Analyst, said, “The book club reinforces that we are all on a personal journey to our own awakening, and each journey is a marathon and not a sprint.” We couldn’t have said it any better.

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