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Joe Gerstandt      

Diversity & Inclusion Advisor, Author

Joe Gerstandt is a speaker, author and advisor bringing greater clarity, action, and impact to organizational diversity and inclusion efforts.

Gerstandt has worked with Fortune 100 corporations, small non-profits, and everything in between. He speaks at numerous conferences and summits, and blogs at joegerstandt.com. 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, Gerstandt 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.

Gerstandt 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. He attended Iowa State University and then spent 6 years working in management and business development for technology and communication companies. Gerstandt then made a career change and went to work for a grassroots non-profit organization doing HIV and STD prevention work. This work is where he found himself drawn to issues related to diversity and inclusion..

Today, Gerstandt believes that we cannot afford to continue applying a 20th century approach to an increasingly critical set of 21st century issues. A strong advocate for resetting the diversity and inclusion conversation, Gerstandt sees diversity and inclusion as poorly understood — and often misunderstood. His keynote messages and interactive workshops bring greater clarity, energy, and application to diversity and inclusion work.

Speech Topics


From “Anti” to “Ally”: A Story of Personal Transformation

For the past 20 years, Joe Gerstandt has been helping organizations of all shapes and sizes to find new clarity relative to diversity and inclusion, and to put new practices in place. But he did not take a very direct route into this work, in fact there was a time in his life when he likely would have rolled his eyes at what he now does for a living. The often-discomforting experience of becoming aware of and addressing his own privilege, denial, bias, and bigotry still informs his work today. This is a story of how one person’s heart, mind, and behavior changed and what we might learn from it. From his own story of growing up on a family farm in rural Iowa, serving in the United States Marine Corps, personal and professional successes and setbacks, and just being in the world with other human beings, Joe distills insights applicable toward leadership, behavior change, culture change, and enlisting more allies in this work.

Inclusion by Design

What specifically do you mean when you use the word “inclusion?” It has become one of the most popular words relative to the modern workplace, yet in most organizations it remains a vague, ambiguous idea; and vague, ambiguous targets are incredibly hard to hit. If inclusion is the product you are trying to deliver, then you should be able to speak to its characteristics. This message brings a powerful new clarity to the concept of inclusion, what it is, why it matters and how it happens. The audience will leave this message with a strong foundation upon which to build impactful and sustainable diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leadership requires more than a statement of commitment, it is an active practice. This session introduces you to that practice. Anchored in a practical model of what inclusion is, Joe will introduce you to a set of competencies and commitments to ensure that your leadership is, in fact, inclusive. You will leave this session with work to do and tools to use, things that you can act on immediately.

The Authenticity Advantage

While the word “authenticity,” gets casually thrown around as if it is a simple, safe, and common thing, the truth is a bit more complicated. Authenticity, properly understood, is hard fought and often involves a fair amount of real and / or perceived risk. As a result, authenticity is often lacking in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives. Which is unfortunate, because authenticity is a pretty righteous thing. This session explores authenticity, what it matters on the individual and organizational level, and how to put authenticity to work for you.

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