Expert Says This is What’s Missing From Diversity, Inclusion Initiatives

Race, gender and sexual orientation get talked about a lot during discussions that center on diversity, but it’s not enough, says inclusion consultant Christopher “CJ” Gross. Social class — and related biases — must be part of the conversation.

“I believe that the class conversation is just as important,” Gross said during a recent interview. “It’s inclusive of all of the different identities and the things we talk about; however, what the conversation around class does, it allows us to get down to the equity component.”

In his new book, What’s Your Zip Code Story? Understanding and Overcoming Class Bias in the Workplace, Gross takes a deep dive into why social class matters and where it fits in a company’s DEI efforts.

“The renewed focus on class, race, and equality in the workplace and beyond is making an indelible mark on society,” Gross said. “This clarion call for change is sweeping inequality from every corner of the nation, including law enforcement, schools and businesses.”

What’s Your Zip Code Story offers research-based solutions for employees seeking professional growth and for business leaders seeking new ways to engage their teams. Gross provides strategies to help class-migrants — whether college students, recent graduates or overlooked employees — climb the career lattice and transform themselves from undervalued employees into respected leaders. He also offers insights to help organizations understand the impact of diversity on a business’s productivity, turnover and revenue.

What’s Your Zip Code Story is a powerful book that expands the conversation surrounding class bias, race and equity in the workplace, and offers effective solutions.

“Each of us has our biases and cultural preferences, which makes it very hard for us to understand the perspectives of others,” Gross added. “It’s time we talked about it.”

Author CJ Gross is a TEDx presenter, international speaker and the founder of Ascension Worldwide, a firm dedicated to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity training and consulting based in the Washington, D.C., area. Gross has 20 years of experience as an international organizational development consultant specializing in leadership development and diversity and inclusion. He is a certified Social + Emotional Intelligence coach, trainer, Keirsey Temperament professional, Intercultural Development Inventory Administrator and executive coach, with additional expertise in organizational mediation.

He also serves as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Master Faculty for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Center for Innovation and Business Management, Adjunct Faculty for the Community College of Baltimore County and Adjunct Professor in the MBA program for St. Bonaventure University.

Gross holds a B. A. degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University through the Forbes Entrepreneurship Scholarship and an M.A. degree in Strategic Leadership from St. Bonaventure University. He has been featured by Bloomberg, the Washington Post, the Washington Informer Newspaper, and other print, radio and television outlets.

For more information, please visit and, or follow Gross on Twitter @cjgrosstalks, Instagram @cjgrosstalks and Facebook @ascensionworldwidemd.