Great Speakers On Embracing Diversity To Drive Innovation
Research from top consulting firms, including Deloitte and McKinsey, shows that organizations that are intentional about creating and fostering more inclusive cultures are much better positioned for business innovation and adaptation, and are at least twice as likely to meet their strategic business objectives. The business case for diversity includes welcoming contributions from diverse team members who can offer alternative viewpoints to business challenges, as well as creative solutions for expanding awareness of products, services, and causes and producing better outcomes on the path to success. Moving into the future of work, it’s clear that the most innovative companies will be the ones that are champions for diversity in all its forms.
Sources of Diversity in the Workplace
Before leaders can jump into developing more deliberate diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies for their organizations, it’s important to understand that, while race and ethnicity are significant aspects, diversity expands far beyond these parameters. Diversity also includes gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, and thought. For true innovation through diversity to begin to take place, organizations need to be proactive in creating protected environments where team members who fall under these diverse categories are encouraged and feel empowered to contribute to the success of the team.
Are you looking for a professional speaker to share unique perspectives on how cognitive diversity can lead to business innovation?
Innovation through diversity touches on so many different sub-keynote topics: inclusion, communication, leadership, change management, corporate culture, overcoming adversity, future trends, employee engagement, mental health, human resource management, social justice, team building, work-life balance, and growth to name a few. We have put together a list of speakers who touch upon this overarching idea as well as these smaller themes. Here is a list of diverse and inclusive speakers who talk about why diversity is so essential to innovation.
SPEAKERS ON EMBRACING DIVERSITY TO DRIVE INNOVATION
- Sekou Andrews, Creator of "Poetic Voice" & Inspirational Speaker
- Chief Carmen Best, Former Chief of Police in Seattle, WA
- Donna Brazile, Renowned Political Strategist and Commentator, Former Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee
- Jonathan Capehart, Journalist and Television Personality
- Reggie Fils-Aimé, Former President and COO of Nintendo of America Inc.
- Anthony Foxx, Former United States Secretary of Transportation and Chief Policy Officer at Lyft
- Sue Gordon, 30-Year National Security Leader, Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
- Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
- Dawn Hudson, Former Chief Marketing Officer at the National Football League and Former President and CEO of Pepsi Cola North America
- Jessica O. Matthews, Innovator and CEO, Uncharted Power
- Ana Navarro, Republican Strategist and Political Contributor to CNN, ABC News, and Telemundo
- Hakeem Oluseyi, Astrophysicist, Space Science Education Lead for NASA, and Inspirational Speaker
- Lisa Sun, CEO & Founder of GRAVITAS
- Dex Hunter-Torricke, Former Head of Communications at SpaceX, Executive Communications Manager at Facebook, & Executive at Google
- Shellye Archambeau, Former Chief Executive Officer, MetricStream
- Vernice Armour, First African American Female Combat Pilot
- Kimberly Bryant, Founder & CEO of Black Girls CODE and Aspen Institute Fellow
- Antoinette Clarke, Author, two-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and the SVP of Branded Entertainment and Media Innovation at ViacomCBS
- Tricia Clarke-Stone, Entrepreneur, Former CEO, Author, Award-winning Marketer
- Carlos Gutierrez, Former CEO and Chairman of the Board at Kellogg Company & Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce
- Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company | Former Chairman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations
- Katty Kay, Anchor of BBC World News America and Author of The Confidence Code
- Bakari Sellers, CNN Political Analyst & Former Representative from South Carolina
- Deborah Shaw, Former Senior Vice President, Chief Global Diversity and Engagement Officer of Pepsico
- Lauren Simmons, Youngest Trader, Only Female and Second-Ever African American Woman at the New York Stock Exchange
- Sondra Thiederman, Expert on Workplace Diversity, Bias Reduction, and Cross-Cultural Business
Read more about each of these dynamic keynote speakers on how to embrace diversity to drive innovation below and click on the links in each speaker's description to navigate to their individual speaker profile pages to learn more about their experience, expertise, and speaking topics.
Creator of "Poetic Voice" & Inspirational Speaker
A schoolteacher turned actor, recording artist, two-time national poetry slam champion, entrepreneur, and award-winning poetic voice, Sekou is a multi-talented entertainer with over 2 decades of experience rocking diverse audiences. It is no surprise that Forbes Magazine has called Sekou “the de facto poet laureate of corporate America.” His “wow-factor” is in high demand with the world’s most successful organizations, including Google, Viacom, Toyota, Nike, Cisco, LinkedIn, Global Green, Paypal, ASAE, The Gap, General Mills, TEDx, and the NBA, to name but a few. Sekou’s talks on disruption are in such demand because they literally embody disruption on stage, charging audiences to disrupt themselves to access their individual innovation. His keynotes on dynamic communication and storytelling show leaders how to deliver dense data through beautifully human presentations. | See more on Sekou Andrews here.
Former Chief of Police in Seattle, WA
The first African-American woman to hold the top policing job in Seattle, Washington, Chief Carmen Best (Ret.) served with the Seattle Police Department for 28 years. In 2018, Best was promoted to Chief of Police, a job she called “a dream of a lifetime,” managing approximately 2,000 sworn and civilian employees. Best quickly began efforts to diversify the police force, which had long been less diverse than the city, recruiting more than 40 new officers of color. | See more on Carmen Best here.
Renowned Political Strategist and Commentator & Former Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)
Veteran political strategist, Donna Brazile, is the former interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the author of the New York Times bestseller Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House and the 2004 best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics. She is a co-author of the forthcoming book For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics. Ms. Brazile has devoted her life to working for progressive change, responsible governance, and the advancement of all people in a society that is fair and equitable, as well as why great ideas often come from unlikely places. Ms. Brazile loves working with young people, encouraging them to vote, to run for office, and to work within the system to strengthen it. | See more on Donna Brazile here.
Journalist & Television Personality
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog, and hosts the Post’s “Cape Up” podcast. He is also an MSNBC contributor who regularly serves as a substitute anchor. He is also revered for his abilities as an expert panelist and moderator, who is particularly skilled at directing and navigating honest, meaningful conversations with high-level personalities. In addition to his work with the Post, Capehart is a regular moderator of panels at the Aspen Ideas Festival and for the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Progress and at the Atlantic Dialogues conference and the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund. In moving speeches, he shares his personal story and encourages audiences to not discount people who may seem different. | See more on Jonathan Capehart here.
Former President and COO of Nintendo of America Inc.
An award-winning innovator and disruptor, Reggie Fils-Aimé is a proven expert on transforming companies, re-vitalizing brands, and reshaping industries to solve daunting challenges and achieve ‘the impossible.’ Most recently, he was the president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America – the first American and African-American to hold this position. He discusses the importance of intellectual curiosity and diversity in innovation in business success, specifically detailing creative, non-linear thinking and gamification as essential elements to thrive in an era of disruption. | Learn more about Reggie Fils-Aimé here.
Former United States Secretary of Transportation & Current Chief Policy Officer at Lyft
Anthony Foxx is the Chief Policy Officer at Lyft who formerly served as the 17th United States Secretary of Transportation and as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. As Secretary of Transportation, he led an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a budget of $70 billion. Secretary Foxx energized DOT’s embrace of innovation to help solve these problems by launching the Smart City Challenge, a national competition to implement bold, data-driven ideas that make transportation safer, easier, and more reliable in that city. In fast-paced presentations, Foxx encourages audiences to rethink what they know about "how things should be done." He also worked to accelerate the Department’s efforts to incorporate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology into new vehicles. As Chief Policy Officer at ride-sharing powerhouse Lyft, he works to develop government partnerships and serves as adviser to Lyft's president and CEO. | See more on Anthony Foxx here.
30-Year National Security Leader, Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
One of the most accomplished leaders in the history of national security, Sue M. Gordon is the former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI) – the country’s number two ranking intelligence official. Through personal anecdotes from her time in the IC, she charismatically motivates audiences to challenge the status quo, adapt to changing environments, and apply innovation to their business. Known for her ability to apply new technologies, modernize organizations, and increase collaboration, Gordon speaks expertly on the changed world in which we find ourselves today, and the importance of honing the crafts of innovation and leadership to successfully build our future. | See more about Sue Gordon here.
Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
In her current role at Morgan Stanley, Carla Harris is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. The recipient of numerous awards, including being named to Fortune magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America,” Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council in 2013. She helps groups tap into their unique potential and understand why our individual gifts are at the core of our success equations. In addition to being recognized as a leading voice on innovation through diversity, she is the author of two best-selling books, Strategize To Win and Expect To Win, and the creator of “Carla’s Pearls,” the centerpiece of her speeches and television appearances. | See more on Carla Harris here.
Former Chief Marketing Officer at the National Football League and Former President and CEO of Pepsi Cola North America
Whether serving as CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, or Chairman of the Board, Dawn Hudson has led an impressive career spanning high-level posts in media, retail, consumer goods, consulting, and healthcare at some of the biggest corporations in the world including the NFL, PepsiCo, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Allergan, PF Chang’s, the LPGA, and NVIDIA. Hudson's track record of success at cultivating more innovative companies is packed with groundbreaking ideas born of an ability to see what’s around the corner and an expertise in crafting revenue-boosting competitive advantages, and she is able to relate these themes to the importance of diversity. Hudson has been recognized as the “Most Vital Leader in Tech, Media, and Marketing” by AdWeek—topping a list of 50 industry titans—and twice as one of Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business.” | See more on Dawn Hudson here.
Innovator and CEO, Uncharted Power
Jessica O. Matthews is the Founder & CEO of Uncharted Power, an award-winning, full-service power and data infrastructure company. The Company's proprietary suite of technologies enables it to build, own and operate decentralized power infrastructure for communities with various applications for edge colocation, power, and sensing. Developing technologies in energy generation, transmission and storage, the Company also has mastered harnessing kinetic energy, enabling it to engineer consumer products for Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. and various international governments. The Company was founded by Jessica when she was only 22 years old. | See more on Jessica Matthews here.
Republican Strategist and Political Contributor to CNN, ABC News, & Telemundo
Ana Navarro is a top Republican strategist and political contributor for CNN and ABC who served as the national Hispanic co-chair for Governor Huntsman’s 2012 Presidential campaign, national co-chair of Senator John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council, national surrogate for Senator John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, as well as an ambassador for the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission. Ana is an advocate for changes in immigration policies and sustained political outreach efforts for the Hispanic community. Respected on both sides of the political aisle for her straight shooting and candor, Navarro frequently appears on top media outlets, such as Meet the Press, Anderson Cooper 360, and The View, to name a few, where she shares her insights, as well as her personal journey to success. | See more on Ana Navarro here.
Astrophysicist, Space Science Education Lead for NASA, and Inspirational Speaker
Dr. Oluseyi’s presentation is a combination of his motivational personal story and a mind-bending look at his scientific research. Born into deep poverty in Mississippi, he grew up in some of the roughest neighborhoods in the country, which led him to spending most of his time indoors reading and watching PBS nature shows, where he realized his love of science and space. He went on to obtain three degrees, 12 patents for inventions in modern computer chips, and to work on Nobel Prize-winning research projects. Funny, honest, and incredibly inspiring, Hakeem moves audiences to never give up while offering a glimpse into galaxy secrets currently being unlocked by the world’s top minds. He’s also the author of the forthcoming memoir The Stars in My Soul: My Unlikely Journey Through Space and Time, to which the movie rights have already been bought! | See more on Hakeem Oluseyi here.
CEO & Founder at GRAVITAS
Named one of Washingtonian Magazine's "Best Dressed Women", Lisa Sun is the founder and CEO of GRAVITAS—a company whose origin story dates back to her first professional review from 13 years earlier. The feedback that affected her? Being told that she “comes across as young and overly enthusiastic at times,” that she “lacked gravitas,” and “should go buy a new dress, big jewelry, and great shoes.” With those words in mind, Sun filed for a global patent to build shape-wear directly into dresses. Realizing the transformative power that clothing can have, Sun launched GRAVITAS as a Confidence Company that offers innovative apparel and styling solutions designed to give every woman a confident sense of self. | See more about Lisa Sun here.
Former Head of Communications at SpaceX, Former Executive Communications Manager at Facebook, & Former Executive at Google
Dex Hunter-Torricke, son of refugees from Burma, has managed communications for some of the most-influential and admired Silicon Valley leaders and leading innovative companies of our day. From 2012 to 2016, he led the executive communications team at Facebook and served as personal speechwriter for Mark Zuckerberg. On stage, Dex expertly combines his experience working for some of the world’s most innovative and technology-driven brands with his passion for social innovation to help companies shift towards a 21st century business methodology. Dex takes audiences into Facebook’s boardroom, Musk’s open-concept cubicle, the famed Googleplex, and finally to the UN itself to share lessons on what it takes in today’s environment to build highly-effective internal teams powered for business innovation through diversity, how to use storytelling in modern communications, and what to make of the steady transition from local to global that’s unfolded over the past decade. | See more on Dex Hunter-Torricke here.
Former Chief Executive Officer, MetricStream
Under Shellye Archambeau's 14 years of leadership, MetricStream has grown from a newly-formed company in 2004 into a recognized global market leader with nearly 1,500 employees globally, as of 2018. The company has been recognized for growth, product innovation, and customer success, and has been consistently named a leader in GRC by leading independent analyst firms. In April 2013, Archambeau was named the “#2 Most Influential African American in Technology” by Business Insider. She previously held senior positions with IBM during a 15-year-long career there, and was the first African American female to be sent on international assignment by IBM. She talks about her personal journey and why she believes innovation through diversity is essential to success. | See more on Shellye Archambeau here.
First African American Female Combat Pilot
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour propelled herself from beat cop to combat pilot in a record-breaking three years and became America’s First African American female combat pilot. FlyGirl’s first signature book, Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter, which was released by Penguin in 2011, chronicles the process she utilized to transition from beat cop to America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot. She is an internationally-recognized inspirational leadership keynote speaker for premier leadership conferences and Fortune 500 companies, who helps groups develop a breakthrough mentality that prizes talent of all shapes and sizes. | See more on Vernice Armour here.
Founder & CEO of Black Girls CODE and Aspen Institute Fellow
In 2011, Kimberly Bryant founded Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color (ages seven to seventeen) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. As Oprah describes, Black Girls CODE is “the first organization of its kind.” Kimberly has helped Black Girls CODE grow from a local grassroots initiative serving only the Bay Area, to an international organization with fourteen chapters across the US and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Black Girls CODE has currently reached over 7,000 students and continues to grow and thrive. She speaks to audiences about why greatness often comes from the most unexpected places. | See more on Kimberly Bryant here.
Author, two-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and the SVP of Branded Entertainment and Media Innovation at ViacomCBS
Antoinette Clarke is an author, two-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and the SVP of Branded Entertainment and Media Innovation at ViacomCBS. She is responsible for ideation, pitching, selling, negotiating, developing and activating strategic branded content and advertiser partnerships across multiple platforms for the CBS Daytime slate of shows and specials. | See more on Antoinette Clarke here.
Entrepreneur, Former CEO, Author, Award-winning Marketer
Tricia Clarke-Stone is an entrepreneur, multi-award winning innovative marketer, and revenue-producing executive who has spent the last two decades at the intersection of marketing, branding, tech, media, entertainment, and innovation through diversity. She has a proven track record of building brands and companies and driving tens of millions in revenue through innovation, technology, marketing, business strategy, IP/product development, and team leadership. | See more on Tricia Clarke-Stone here.
Former CEO and Chairman of the Board at Kellogg Company & Former Secretary of the US Department of Commerce
The son of Cuban immigrants who began his career selling cereal to small grocers in Mexico City, Carlos Guiterrez rose to become the youngest CEO in Kellogg’s 100-year history. Named one of the most powerful Hispanic-Americans in business by Fortune magazine, he was an ardent voice for business in the government as well as why new voices from various backgrounds can often contribute to business innovation and forging new partnerships that may not have been possible. As secretary of commerce, Gutierrez was a core member of President Bush’s economic team.During his tenure, Gutierrez made it a top priority to open global markets for U.S. companies, and he played a key role in the passage of CAFTA-DR, a landmark trade agreement that expanded opportunities for US exports throughout Latin America. | See more on Carlos Gutierrez here.
Chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company | Former Chairman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations
Ever since 2002, as chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company — where she became the first African American woman CEO among the top five of the Black Enterprise 100s largest black-owned companies — Linda Johnson Rice has shone a ray of positivity on the black community with her strong and resilient leadership. Today, Johnson Rice continues to bring diverse and dynamic viewpoints to the business community through her extensive board experience. | Learn more about Linda Johnson Rice here.
Anchor of BBC World News America and Author of The Confidence Code
Katty Kay is the lead anchor of BBC World News America and the author of the book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know. In it, she looks at the confidence gap between men and women. Her talk is particularly relevant to organizations looking to increase the number of women in their board rooms or executive roles, and she shares examples of how leading companies like Google are putting this into practice. | Discover more about Katty Kay here.
CNN Political Analyst & Former Representative from South Carolina
Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent State Representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation. He has followed in the footsteps of his father, civil rights leader, Dr. Cleveland Sellers, in his tireless commitment to public service while championing progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity. | Learn more about Bakari Sellers here.
Former Senior Vice President, Chief Global Diversity and Engagement Officer of Pepsico
Deborah Shaw is an expert in navigating uncertainty, as well as the reasons why unlikely people can often be the source of our greatest new ideas. She discovered strategies for success that formed a bridge from tough inner-city beginnings to award-winning entrepreneur and Fortune 50 senior executive and consultant. In 2004, Deborah founded the Rosado Shaw Group, LLC., a consulting and advisory firm focused on intervening in today's complex challenges around culture, performance, talent engagement, and diversity. Since 1996, Deborah has delivered custom executive briefings, seminars, keynotes, and consulting to organizations that include Accenture, American Express, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, IBM, Microsoft, New York Life, PepsiCo, Sam's Club, Walmart, and many more. | See more on Deborah Shaw here.
Youngest Trader, Only Female and Second-Ever African American Woman at the New York Stock Exchange
At 22 years old, Lauren Simmons shattered the glass ceiling and made history by being the youngest and only full-time female equity trader on Wall Street for Rosenblatt Securities. Affectionately called the “Wolfette of Wall Street,” Simmons was also the second African American woman in history to hold the prestigious title. Graduating from Kennesaw State University with a degree in genetics and a minor in statistics, Simmons initially aspired for a career in genetic counseling. While she made the decision to not pursue that journey, what had not changed was her passion to move to New York City – where networking led her to meet Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Rosenblatt Securities. Beyond her many qualifications, it was ultimately Simmons’ confidence that led Rosenblatt to take her under his wing and offer her a position as an Equity Trader in his company. | See more on Lauren Simmons here.
Professional Speaker, Author, & Expert on Unconscious Bias
Dr. Sondra Thiederman is one of the nation’s leading experts on unconscious bias, workplace inclusion issues, and diversity in innovation. As President of Cross-Cultural Communications, a San Diego based training firm, Sondra has more than 25 years’ experience as a speaker, trainer, and author. She helps professionals in Fortune 500 companies, public sector organizations, and dozens of associations find ways to successfully navigate and succeed in our increasingly diverse workplaces. Sondra’s client list spans industries and associations ranging from aerospace (The Boeing Company) to Finance (Ernst and Young) to health care (The Mayo Clinic) to communications (AT&T) and beyond. | See more on Dr. Sondra Thiederman here.
How to Get Started Driving Innovation Through Diversity
As these expert speakers on business innovation through diversity share with audiences across industries, there are some actionable steps that organizations can start taking now to create more innovative companies powered by diversity. These steps include:
- Making it safe for all team members to propose new ideas
- Trusting team members with autonomy and authority in certain aspects of the business
- Implementing feedback from sources offering diverse viewpoints
- Hosting speakers to advance the conversation on diversity and innovation in your organization
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The keynote speakers on diversity that are featured on this list come from a wide background and are diversity speakers, meeting planners, communication speakers, management speakers, technology speakers, business speakers, and inclusion speakers. These diversity and inclusion speakers that can also partake in a panel discussion are also bestselling authors, executive coaches, founders, and CEOs, and cover topics such as top diversity, emotional intelligence, and business growth.
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