February 2022
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Commit to Developing All Employees

Monday, January 31, 2022

Business Doing Good: Engaging Women and Elevating Communities
By Shannon Deer and Cheryl Miller
Rowman & Littlefield, 228 pp., $32

This book is in a class of its own. The authors brilliantly tell the stories of six real women, the challenges they overcome, and the successes they ultimately realize as nontraditional employees. The women are those whom society often marginalizes due to their experiences with poverty, incarceration, and addiction and their engagement with the sex trade. Yet, they worked diligently to overcome previous life experiences and attained skills, knowledge, education, and training to achieve success in a business setting or nonprofit organization and—in some cases—to start their own business. Their stories depict what can happen when nonprofit organizations and companies commit to growing and developing those who on the surface they may not consider good fits for the organization.


In Business Doing Good, the authors highlight how six principles—experiential or discovery learning, immediate leadership opportunities, entrepreneurial culture, translation factor, restorative justice principles, and nonprofit partnerships—became stepping-stones that contributed to each woman's success. For workplace mentors, managers, and HR and talent development professionals, the principles structure a playbook as it relates to developing nontraditional employees. Experiential learning stood out as a familiar L&D model supporting the women's professional development and education while the translation factor emphasized areas where the women could build upon strengths learned from previous environments. In each case, the value nontraditional employees bring to the workforce has great social, environmental, and business impacts, resulting in sustainable growth for companies, the community, and families.

The authors include viable solutions and tactical accountabilities for companies and nonprofit organizations, as well as the nontraditional employee—or in this case, the women themselves. Also, as a tool to promote introspection, the authors raise questions for readers to assess their organization's readiness to develop nontraditional employees.

The special nugget for talent development professionals is how they can leverage and apply the six principles in ways that support both nontraditional employees and others within an organization. As a result, significant growth and expansion are benefits everyone can experience. This book demonstrates the importance of investing in learning, development, and personal growth for their far-reaching impacts.

About the Author

Deborah E. Williams, CPTD, is president of Bright Light Consulting Services; [email protected]

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