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Climb: Taking Every Step with Conviction, Courage, and Calculated Risk to Achieve a Thriving Career and a Successful Life

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A professional playbook offering guidance to women in the contemporary workplace.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“Gadsden-Williams is an award-winning global diversity expert who launched Ceiling Breakers LLC to help women and professionals of color to reach their potential. In her book, she talks about her journey as a woman of color who’s had top senior-level positions in corporate America while managing a chronic illness. She also provides solutions to address the challenges women face navigating the business world, essentially a playbook for dealing with some of the most demanding workplace issues.”
Ebony Magazine

Winner of the African American Literary Awards Show’s Best Self-Help Award for 2018!

“In this memoir and guidebook, Gadsden-Williams interweaves the story of her life as a black female executive with research statistics and savvy career tips for minority women also seeking to occupy the ‘C-Suite’ . . . Always candid about the realities of corporate life, the author offers sound advice for minority women seeking advancement, recognition, and meaningful lives. Illuminating and useful.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The first book from diversity expert, philanthropist, and Accenture lead executive Gadsden-Williams incorporates both memoir and career guide . . . Hers is a realistic, pragmatic discussion of what it takes to make it in Fortune 500 companies, and in life.”

“Inspiring . . . Sections addressing how corporate diversity and equality efforts have either succeeded and failed are necessary reading.”
Publishers Weekly

Business Book of the Week, Stevo’s Book Reviews on the Internet

“Michelle Gadsden-Williams has accomplished something rare for a black women in America: maintained a successful corporate career at the highest level. Climb is the story of her journey to the top, and her generous effort to send the elevator back down for the rest of us.”
—Tiffany Dufu, author of Drop the Ball

“Gadsden-Williams has written a brilliant book that reveals how companies can leverage diversity as a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. Her argument is simple and powerful: Companies are inherently stronger, more agile, and innovative when they embrace ‘culture as business model.’ With vivid stories from her twenty-five years [of experience], Climb is a book that will reframe HR into a powerful strategy function for twenty-first century organizations.”
—John Gerzema, New York Times best-selling author of The Athena Doctrine

“Gadsden-Williams has used her personal story of resiliency to provide invaluable insight into how to build a fulfilling life, not just a career. She pulls no punches when sharing her experiences as an African American woman determined to fulfill her dream to help others live up to their potential . . . It is no wonder she has won so many awards and accolades for her efforts to make organizations more inclusive. Think of her as your personal mentor, not advising you on what you should do, but rather guiding you to help you discover your personal voice and path.”
—Linda A. Hill, professor, Harvard Business School and author of Being the Boss

“Most organizations were not designed for women of color. [In Climb] Gadsden-Williams takes us on a journey of her career—the winding road of making tough career and family decisions, seeking out and shaping opportunities, and walking away when others thought she should stay. There is raw, sincere vulnerability displayed in this book . . . [and there] is also a call to action—intentionally shape your career and be an active partner in shaping the organizations you are a part of. Thank you for sharing your story! I am sure it will be an inspiration to its readers. Keep climbing!”
—Katherine W. Phillips, Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Columbia Business School

“A frank memoir plus career guide, Michelle Gadsden-Williams shares personal stories of self-assurance, resilience, and bravery that serve as lessons for women in the workplace. This book is essential reading.”
—Angela Rye, CEO, IMPACT Strategies

Climb is fearless, brave, informative, fiercely feminist, and an overall must-read for any professional woman of color looking to blaze her own path to a full life and successful career. With so few women of color in corporate America—and even fewer telling their story—Michelle Gadsden-Williams’s leadership gives readers an intentional, bold, and refreshingly honest look inside the challenges and the necessary decisions that professional women must make, while highlighting how to be uncompromising in achieving their goals.”
—Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women

“This might be 2018, but things still aren’t coming up rosy for black women in corporate America. Michelle Gadsden-Williams has played at the highest levels in the corporate world, and in Climb, she offers valuable insight that is crucial to the development of the next generation of black female business leaders.”
—Roland S. Martin, host/managing editor, NewsOne Now and senior analyst, Tom Joyner Morning Show

“Michelle Gadsden-Williams gives us the gift of her wisdom and candor. Too often our struggles are hidden from the outside world so we are led to believe we are the only ones. Gadsden-Williams weaves together her deep industry expertise with her personal story to give actionable success tips to navigate the workplace on your own terms. Bravo, Michelle!””
—Lisa Skeete Tatum, founder and CEO, Landit

“Michelle Gadsden-Williams combines firsthand accounts, historical data, scientific research, and down-to-earth how-to advice to help women in the workplace. This is an informative book for all, but especially women of color who feel they cannot break through the concrete ceiling to achieve success. Climb is a bold, inspiring manifesto for professional career women on what it takes to climb to corporate heights in America.”
—Soledad O’Brien, journalist

“Michelle Gadsden-Williams leads us through her personal life journey, educating us on diversity and inclusion lessons learned from her successes and failures. As a multicultural corporate leader she shows courage and integrity; as a colleague, mentor, and friend she shows empathy and compassion. Her storytelling is a powerful way to learn how to navigate the corporate world as a minority and woman.”
—Subha Barry, senior vice president and managing director, Working Mother Media

“Michelle Gadsden-Williams is a ceiling-breaker, risk-taker, changemaker, and true survivor. She’s also clearly a giver, and Climb is her gift to everyone who is determined to reach the top—especially women of color.”
—Earl G. Graves Jr., president and CEO, Black Enterprise

“In a world of self-proclaimed giants and rhetorical ideologues, understated pragmatism is what helps people like you and me transform our lives. Climb is practical, it’s transparent, and it’s genius. Michelle Gadsden-Williams brings a career rooted in dynamic performance and impact to present the best road map from here to excellence I’ve ever read. It will challenge and inspire while simultaneously providing step-by-step directions to personal and professional metamorphosis. Whether you’re trekking the mountains of the global marketplace or ascending the peaks of personal development, Climb will help you get there. Pick it up today!”
—Jeff Johnson, managing principal, JIJ Communications

“What Michelle Gadsden-Williams has boldly done is share her experiences, not only in the workplace but of her life in general. This is highly valuable to all women, women of color in particular, and men who want to advance in the world of managing and harnessing diverse human capital. This book is a selfless look at the struggles, good and bad, that Gadsden-Williams has faced . . . Most importantly, it tells women of color to always be aware of their strength and to work toward empowering others.”
—Savannah Maziya, group CEO, Bunengi

“Michelle Gadsden-Williams is a strong-minded and kindhearted person whose personal journey is a guidebook for women who want to learn how to make the most of their talents, interests, and affiliations to lead satisfying lives and successful careers. She demonstrates how, as women, we need to be fearless in the face of adversity and she teaches us to treasure our bodies as we go out into the workplace.”
—Tichina Arnold, actress, singer, and philanthropist

“Michelle Gadsden-Williams, a senior executive and leader in diversity and inclusion, is set to electrify readers with her corporate journey. In her first book, Climb, she shares her passion, her drive, and her tools and tactics for success. The fact is, over the course of her career, she has learned to overcome some of the most serious professional and personal obstacles. In 2018, we are particularly in need of Gadsden-Williams’s optimistic and inspirational voice.”
—Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Executive Presence

“Leaders use strategies to reach their goals, and in this book, Gadsden-Williams demonstrates how you also must do the same: set goals for your personal well-being, and incorporate those goals into corporate culture so that you can take your career to the next level.”
—AJ Johnson, actress and healthy-living coach


A selection of the Open Lens imprint.

Renowned as a diversity and inclusion strategist, Gadsden-Williams held C-Suite positions at major organizations for many years . . . and then took the off-ramp to probe a different career path, launching Ceiling Breakers LLC, with the primary goal to help women and professionals of color reach their full potential. As a woman of color and corporate executive who has worked and traveled the world for several Fortune 500 companies—all while managing a chronic illness—she provides insight into overcoming the barriers facing professionals in today’s workplace.

In Climb, Gadsden-Williams combines her inspirational life story with pragmatic solutions to address problems facing women in corporate America, offering a professional playbook for tackling today’s most pressing workplace issues.

Read a feature on Michelle Gadsden-Williams at Take the Lead.

Read interviews with Michelle Gadsden-Williams at FairyGodBoss and Pivot Magazine

Listen to interviews with Michelle Gadsden-Williams on The Karen Hunter Show and Women @ Work (Wharton Business Radio).

Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 5/1/18
  • IBSN: 9781617756245
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756467
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617759116


MICHELLE GADSDEN-WILLIAMS is an award-winning global diversity expert, activist, philanthropist, and the managing director and North American inclusion and diversity lead at Accenture. She has more than twenty-five years of experience working in the consumer goods, pharmaceutical, financial, and professional services industries. She has held positions of global responsibility for corporations such as Credit Suisse, Novartis, and Merck & Co. She serves on several boards including the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Lupus Research Alliance, and the Women’s Leadership Board of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Gadsden-Williams has a BA in communications with a minor in marketing from Kean College, and an MS in organizational dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in New York City with her husband, David Jamal Williams. Climb is her first title.

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CAROLYN M. BROWN is an award-winning journalist, author, and playwright. Her work has appeared in Essence, Pink, Black Enterprise,
Forbes Executive Edge,
the Source, Hispanic Business, AOL BlackVoices, and elsewhere. She is the founder of the True Colors Project, a social enterprise, and the cofounder and executive director of the My True Colors Festival, a multidisciplinary social justice arts event. She is the author of The Millionaires’ Club and Nobody’s Business but Your Own and is a 2012 GLAAD Media Award winner for Outstanding Magazine Article. Climb is her latest title.

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