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Kenji Yoshino    

Professor at NYU School of Law & Author; Director of the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law and the Director of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. A graduate of Harvard (AB summa cum laude), Oxford (MSc as a Rhodes Scholar) and Yale (JD), he specializes in constitutional law, antidiscrimination law, and law and literature. He received tenure at Yale Law School, where he served as Deputy Dean before moving to NYU.

Yoshino has published in major academic journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Stanford Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal. He has also written for more popular forums, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Yoshino is the author of three books. His fourth book (co-authored with David Glasgow), "Say the Right Thing: How to Talk About Identity, Diversity, and Justice," was published by Simon and Schuster in February 2023.

Yoshino has served as the President of the Harvard Board of Overseers. He currently serves on the Oversight Board for Meta, the Board of the Brennan Center for Justice, on advisory boards for diversity and inclusion for Morgan Stanley and Charter Communications, and on the board of his children’s school. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and scholarship, including the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, the Peck medal in jurisprudence, and the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

He lives in Manhattan with his husband, two children, and a Great Dane.

Speech Topics

Say the Right Thing: How to Talk about Identity, Diversity, and Justice

Kenji can speak about any of the seven principles outlined in the book, or any combination of them: (1) How to escape common conversational traps; (2) How to build resilience; (3) How to cultivate curiosity; (4) How to engage in respectful disagreement; (5) How to apologize authentically; (6) How to support people who are affected by bias as they wished to be helped (as opposed to how you assume they wish to be helped); and (7) How to support people who engage in non-inclusive behavior by helping them grow past their mistakes.

Uncovering Your Authentic Self at Work

Becoming an Ally to All

This talk was developed from a collaboration with Microsoft. It begins by looking at why people are rarely effective allies—noting that people often find themselves either remaining silent out of fear or barreling in uninformed. It then describes a three-stage model of allyship—from “Ally to One” through “Ally to Some” to “Ally to All.” To help people get to “Ally to All,” Kenji introduces the tool of the “empathy triangle,” which looks at the questions each ally should ask of the three parties in an allyship situation (the ally herself, the affected person, and the source of non-inclusive behavior). Among these questions are: “Am I informed enough to act?” “Am I helping the affected party as she wishes to be helped?” and “Am I separating the source’s behavior from her identity?”

Communicating with Agility

This talk is based on a forthcoming book (to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2022 and co-authored with David Glasgow). It explores how to engage in difficult conversations about identity in the workplace. The talk focuses on improving the conversational behavior of the more privileged parties in identity conversations, based on the understanding that they have greater power to change the dynamics of the conversation. It explores four bad behaviors in identity conversations (avoid, deflect, deny, and attack), the reasons why we engage in such behaviors, and how to fix those mistakes by adopting three “postures” in conversation: challenge-seeking, curious, and collaborative. The talk also examines how to give an effective apology and how to disagree respectfully in identity conversations.

Uncovering Talent: A New Model for Corporate Inclusion

Based on Kenji Yoshino’s book, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, this talk examines the phenomenon of “covering”—a strategy through which individuals downplay a known stigmatized identity to blend in at work. The talk explains through both quantitative data and qualitative data that such covering occurs across all groups (with even 45 percent of straight white men reporting that they cover), and that covering is harmful to both individuals and organizations. It then explores solutions about how individuals can bring more of their authentic selves to the workplace.

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