Joe Gerstandt

joe gerstandt business keynote speaker

Joe Gerstandt

joe gerstandt business keynote speaker

Speaker: Joe Gerstandt

Nationally recognized thought leader on issues related to authenticity, diversity, inclusion and leadership

Speech Topics Include:

  • Innovation
  • Inclusion By Design
  • Got Bias?
  • The Authenticity Advantage: How To Fly Your Freak Flag



Keynote speaker Joe Gerstandt brings new clarity and fresh practices to diversity and inclusion work.

Joe has worked with Fortune 500 corporations, small non-profits, and everything in between. As a speaker Joe Gerstandt has appeared at numerous conferences and summits. 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.

Today, Joe believes that we can ill 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, Joe 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.


Including difference leads to innovation and, subsequently, better results in both life and business. Implementing new strategies in the way we communicate, socialize, and build communities is an increasingly significant part of creating diversity. Joe provides his audiences with innovative tools and methodologies, including: social technology and Web 2.0, appreciative inquiry, and open space. As Joe explains, “innovation is vital to capturing the potential that is generated through the inclusion of difference.”


Inclusion By Design

While we continue to bring greater diversity into our workforce, we still have a great deal of work to do in delivering an inclusive work experience. The depressingly titled Harvard Business Review article “Fear of Being Different Stifles Talent” is just one piece of evidence. At the very root of this disconnect is the reality that inside most organizations today, inclusion is a vague, abstract idea involving some notions of tolerance and respect. This makes it very difficult to determine what to do towards inclusion and what to measure

This presentation makes inclusion tangible and much more actionable by providing the audience with a clear, concise, and actionable model for understanding what the experience of being included is, and what it is not.

This leads into an examination of the most common and fundamental barriers to actually proving an inclusive employee or stakeholder experience, specifically the roles played by unwritten rules, and unconscious or implicit bias.

Inclusion, properly understood, is inherently activist. It is not a product of values or intentions, but of choices, actions and practices. This workshop will end focused specifically on those takeaways (individual and collective).


Got 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.


The Authenticity Advantage: How To Fly Your Freak Flag

The word “authenticity” is thrown around very casually as if it were a simple, safe, common thing, but it is not. Authenticity, or being true to who you are, is hard work and always involves some real or perceived risk, especially in the workplace. This leads to a less than inclusive work experience, and a staggering amount of waste in the workplace as folks already on the payroll choose to keep ideas, perspectives and talents to themselves in order to more neatly fit in.

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