Project Description

Steve Wozniak

Joe Gerstandt

Diversity Keynote Speaker

Speaking Style: Insightful, Thought-provoking, Engaging

Travels From: Nebraska

Fee Schedule: 2

Joe Gerstandt is a speaker, author and advisor bringing greater clarity, action, and impact to organizational diversity and inclusion efforts. Joe has worked with Fortune 500 corporations, small non-profits, and everything in between. He speaks at numerous conferences and summits, and blogs at He is a featured contributor for the Workforce Diversity Network Expert Forum and his insights have been published in Diversity Best Practices, Diversity Executive, HR Executive, The Diversity Factor, The American Diversity Report, the Corporate Recruiting Leadership Journal, Associations Now, other print and on-line journals and he co-authored the book Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships.

Joe grew up on a family farm in NW Iowa, served four years in the United States Marine Corps, including participation in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, attended Iowa State University and then spent 6 years working in management and business development for technology and communication companies. He then made a career change and went to work for a grassroots non-profit organization doing HIV and STD prevention work, and this is where he found himself drawn to issues related to diversity and inclusion and then became actively involved in that work.

He is a featured contributor for the Workforce Diversity Network Expert Forum and his insights have been published in Diversity Best Practices, Diversity Executive, HR Executive, and numerous other print and on-line journals. He co-authored the book Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships, and serves on the Intersectional Culture and Diversity Advisory Council for the social networking platform, Twitter. A strong advocate for resetting the diversity and inclusion conversation, Joe sees this work as poorly understood and often misunderstood. His keynote messages and interactive workshops bring greater clarity, action, and impact to existing and new organizational diversity & inclusion efforts.

Designing the Inclusive Employee Experience

Your organization likely says wonderful things about inclusion, but can anyone explain what it actually is? If inclusion is our product (and it should be our first product), we should know its characteristics. This session will equip you to guide your organization in designing an inclusive employee experience, actionable for, and specific to your organization. This is how we make it real.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand the necessity of having great clarity regarding what it means to be fully
  • included in their organization.
  • Understand the foundational concepts relative to the experience of being included
  • (psychological safety, trust, empathy, etc.).
  • Understand a design process and participate in several short writing exercises toward
  • clarifying what inclusion means.
  • Learn how to take the process back to your organization and design an inclusive
  • employee experience.

GOT BIAS? Understanding the New Science of Bias

Much of what is said and done in the name of diversity and inclusion today is, unfortunately, based on an antiquated and flawed paradigm. We stubbornly cling to the idea that there are generally two groups of people in the world; there are “good people,” who are open- minded, nonjudgmental and free of bias, and then there are “bad people,” who are closed- minded, judgmental and dripping with bias. This conveniently leaves most of us completely out of the conversation regarding bias; as long as I am a “good person,” I don’t have any work to do, beyond helping to point out the bad ones…who clearly need to be “fixed.” We know enough today about human beings, specifically the human brain, to know that there is no such thing as a nonjudgmental human being. We are naturally and even automatically judgmental, there is no hatred or fear required. Bias is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it is simply a true thing, and only becomes a problem when we convince ourselves it is not there. Having an accurate understanding of what bias is and where it comes from, allows us to do something about it, to make sure that we are mitigating its impact on our decisions and interactions. This is an interactive, information-rich and incredibly actionable message.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand what bias, and unconscious (or implicit) bias are.
  • Be introduced to research from the fields of social psychology, behavioral economics and neuroscience regarding the source and impacts of unconscious (or implicit) bias.
  • Understand why bias is a natural aspect of the human experience.
  • Understand and explore the ways that unconscious (or implicit) bias can undermine individual and group performance in the workplace.
  • Leave with individual action items that they can immediately incorporate into their work.
  • Be prepared to identify collective opportunities for taking action to reduce the impact of unconscious (or implicit) bias.
  • Leave with resources to support additional learning, sharing and action relative to mitigating the impact of unconscious (or implicit) bias.


Inclusion has, in the past decade, become an incredibly popular word in the workplace. It is not at all difficult to find leaders, organizations and communities quick to tell you how incredibly inclusive they are. What remains difficult to find is the leader who can explain what that actually means. Inclusion remains, in most organizations, a vague, abstract concept. It is no wonder so many organizations struggle to determine how to get there and what to measure along the way. If you sincerely want to move toward a more inclusive employee experience (for your benefit and theirs), then clarity is one of your very best friends. Joe shows leaders how to build diversity and inclusion efforts that succeed, starting with a strong foundation of clear, concise, common language and logic.

Key takeaways:

  • Greater clarity about what inclusion means and how it informs individual, group, andorganizational performance.
  • Identify fundamental barriers to inclusion.
  • Take actionable models and definitions back to your organization to better inform your inclusion efforts.


We have traditionally organized work from the perspective of what the organization needs or what management needs. This approach frequently results in practices that actually stymie performance. Cubicle farms anyone?
What if you built your organization and organized work based on what employees need to perform at their best? Fortunately for us, we have a much better understanding of human performance and what drives it today than ever before. Drawing on insights from fields such as social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, organizational behavior, and behavioral economics, this session looks for opportunities to redesign aspects of our work with the humans in mind.  There are, in fact, lots of opportunities at work to replace what we think should work with what actually will work. For some strange reason, we continue to be surprised that a couple of people dominate the conversation during a meeting or that we have “silo issues.” Pretty predictable, also pretty easy to solve when approached in the right way.

Key takeaways:

  • Challenge some of the fundamentally flawed assumptions we make about human beings.
  • Examine examples of how behavioral design can be used to deliver better individual and shared outcomes at work.
  • Be introduced to a basic model of human behavior to use in designing work.
  • Direction to additional resources on human behavior, performance, and behavioral design.


Leaders play a critical role in providing an inclusive employee experience, and research suggests that the wrong kind of leadership is one of the biggest barriers to inclusion. Not only is inclusion poorly understood, and often misunderstood by managers, inclusive leadership is simply not the path of least resistance. Even if we see the importance and value of inclusion intellectually, in the moment it makes life a lot easier if everyone just thinks and acts in the same ways. Inclusion is hard work and is about much more than having good intentions. Being an inclusive leader is not about “getting it,” “embracing it,” or having a killer business case for it…you have to actually do stuff, and Joe will help you figure out what that stuff is. Starting with a simple, but actionable framework for understanding inclusion and what it means to be included Joe outlines a basic toolkit for inclusive leadership.

Key takeaways:

  • A more tangible understanding of what inclusion is and how it can impact
  • Exploration of dynamics which make inclusion difficult, including practices of
  • traditional management.
  • Be introduced to a basic toolkit for inclusive leadership consisting of knowledge, behavior, and practices.


We still seem to love the idea of the lone, possibly eccentric, mythical genius who drives innovation from their lab, their garage, or an exotic mountain top, but innovation almost always has social origins. Innovation often emerges from the intersection of different things, different world views, different industries or professions, different ways of thinking. If we are as serious about innovation as we claim to be, then we must be better at mixing diverse things together in inclusive containers. Thanks to the research of Scott Page, Ron Burt and others, we know that there are very direct lines between cognitive diversity (diversity of thought) and superior decision-making and problem solving. Having greater diversity of thought involved in a conversation also can make it more difficult, so knowing how to do it well becomes a pretty big opportunity for advantage.

Key takeaways:

  • Introduce the concept of cognitive diversity, what it is, and why it matters.
  • Review research and examples of how cognitive diversity makes a difference.
  • Consider individual and group practices for more effectively leveraging diversity of thought toward greater innovation, improved decision-making and problem-solving.


While everyone has been busy fighting the “war for talent,” much has changed regarding how we do work. With every passing year, we do less work by ourselves and more of it with others, yet our language and efforts around talent are still focused on the individual level. If we do still care about talent, a very timely question is; do you know what makes a talented team?  Thanks to both academic and field research, we can identify many of the key practices critical to a team actually aggregating the talent and resources that they have access to. While so much of our efforts around talent are focused on individual abilities and competencies, at the group level those things really do not matter much, but how the team works together takes on great importance.

Key takeaways:

  • Introduce the concept of psychological safety.
  • Learn what it means to “do conflict well” and why it matters.
  • Leave with a menu of group practices to drive more

INCLUSION BY DESIGN (interactive workshop, 1⁄2 day minimum)

Inclusion is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the world of work. Ask 10 people in your organization what inclusion is, why it’s valuable, and how we capture that value, and you are likely to get 10 different answers, most of which will not make any sense. It is incredibly difficult to measure progress toward, or hit a target you cannot define. This interactive workshop clarifies for you your target and how to hit it. Joe walks you through a process for designing and delivering a more inclusive employee experience for your team, your organization, or your community.

Key takeaways:

  • Develop strong foundational language and logic to inform your inclusion efforts.
  • Work through a design process to clarify what an inclusive employee experience means for your organization.
  • Identify key leverage points and priorities for delivering a more inclusive employee experience for your organization.
  • Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships (2018)
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • American Institute of CPAs
  • American Society of Association Executives
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Hospital Corporation of America
  • Principal Financial
  • Experian Financial
  • Aramark Canada
  • Bahamas First Insurance
  • Walmart
  • Boeing
  • Nestle
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • ConAgra Foods
  • Target
  • Geico Insurance
  • Cox Communications
  • Cornell University
  • Progressive Insurance
  • Public Health Institute
  • Farm Bureau Federation
  • University of Michigan
  • Marathon Oil
  • Spectra Energy
  • Eli Lilly
  • Harper Collins
  • Toyota
  • McCormick
  • Citizens Energy
  • Nashville Electric
  • Baird Holm Law
  • Kutak Rock Law
  • Sletten Construction
  • Stryker
  • Union Bank & Trust
  • Veridian Credit
  • Pinnacle Bank

“I had the privilege of spending a weekend participating in a retreat facilitated by Joe. The sessions were always interesting, entertaining, and pushed us to the next level. Joe is a dynamic and articulate speaker who does a wonderful job of helping his audience ‘connect all the dots’.” Valda Ford, Center for Human Diversity

“You always wonder when you take time away from the office to attend a workshop if it will be worth it. Joe’s session absolutely was! It is grounded in research and interspersed with interactive and though-provoking exercises. Joe’s presentation made the topic of diversity a relevant, personal, and business focused issue. This is the best content I have seen on diversity.”- Dennis Bole, Principal Financial Group

“Our experience working with Joe Gerstandt was amazing. Not only was his presentation engaging and thought provoking, but he was able to truly reach an audience of people who have mostly been in a leadership role for over 20 years and still teach them something new. Joe gave unique, practical strategies for embracing diverse perspectives in the workplace and disagreeing the right way. Even though he tackled some complex topics, he was able to simplify it in a way that I believe our members truly appreciated and benefited from. Joe also spent time talking to us before the conference to truly understand audience he’d be speaking to. He did a great job tailoring his message to our members and listening to the advice we had about messaging they respond to.” – Education SpecialistAssociation for the Healthcare Environment

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