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Keynote Talks

Our talks offer strategies for creating more inclusive organizations, empowering change agents and developing leadership. Incorporating the latest Stanford research on gender and organizational effectiveness, we focus on specific actions that can minimize the effects of gender bias and create more meritocratic workplaces where top talent can thrive. In addition to our presentations to individual corporations and institutes, the Center's team regularly provides talks and workshops at national conferences and events, including the MAKERS Conference, VMWorld, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and meetings of the National Society of Human Resources Management.  

Audiences for our presentations represent a range of executive levels,  from senior corporate leaders to middle management teams to individual contributors. They can vary in size from intimate groups of 20 to assemblies of 500 or more.  Presentations are customized to meet your organization’s unique needs, culture and vocabulary. Each talk can be delivered in 75 to 90 minutes depending on the size of the group and the time allocated for interactive exercises and discussion.

We are available for keynotes and other speaking engagements on any of the topics below—or, please ask us about a custom topic for your event.

Creating Inclusive Workplaces: See Bias, Block Bias

Implicit bias is a well-documented phenomenon that affects the key "people processes" supporting organizations' operations, culture and leadership.  When bias surfaces in critical functions like recruitment, hiring, and performance evaluation, it can impede effective decision-making.  The result? Companies can unintentionally turn away, overlook or  lose high-potential talent.  

Research suggests that we can learn to 1) identify how bias can present itself in organizational functions, and 2) prevent that bias from creating errors in our decisions about people. This talk provides an overview of the research on how biases emerge and describes the consequences -- to women, under-represented minorities and others who don’t fit our stereotype of the “ideal” person for the job.   We then suggest specific strategies for minimizing the effects of biases on decision-making in an organizational context.  Participants will leave the session with research-based tools that are applicable across various dimensions of diversity, and that can help their organization more effectively identify, retain and promote top talent.

Depending on an organization’s interest, this talk may be either general in nature or tailored to focus on a key organizational process such as hiring, performance management or workload allocation.

The Language of Leadership

Language significantly influences our perceptions of people and their leadership potential, and can impede effective decision-making when it comes to evaluating and promoting workers.  Research has shown, for example, that men's performance is more likely to be described in "agentic" terms that emphasize specific skills, individual actions and results.  Women's performance, in contrast, is more likely to be described using "communal" terms that emphasize ability to work with others, e.g. helpfulness, accommodation and positive attitude.  This occurs when women's achievements and skills are on par with or even exceed those of men.   

Importantly, our society associates leadership potential with those agentic qualities more often ascribed to men.  As a result, when performance evaluations and recommendations for women focus on such communal attributes as helpfulness and friendliness -- as opposed to the agentic qualities our society associates with leaders -- women are considered to have less leadership potential. Even though their skills and achievements may exceed those of male colleagues, they are less likely to be considered for advancement opportunities. 

The session begins with an overview of bias, then moves into specific examples of how bias can shape the language used to describe and evaluate men and women. We then offer tools for individuals and managers to examine how they evaluate and describe themselves and others,  and strategies for using language to effectively advocate for organizational talent. 

The Language of Technical Competence

For technical audiences, the Language of Leadership workshop above can be customized to focus specifically on women in STEM contexts.  After an overview of gender bias, we move into the ways bias can become embedded into the language used to evaluate technical women, creating roadblocks for career advancement.

The Dynamics of Hyper-Effective Teams

Whether your team is managing a routine project or launching the next breakthrough product, its ability to effectively perform is critical to your organization's success. Hyper-effective teams harness the talents of every member, moving beyond groupthink and maximizing creativity and innovation. This workshop starts with a 30-minute interactive team exercise, and ends with tools for making team inclusion a reality.

Team Dynamics: Innovation’s Secret Sauce

Innovation is achieved when a team taps the cognitive diversity of its members to create new ideas.  Unfortunately, our unconscious assumptions can limit how we hear and value diverse voices.   In addition, we have inherited many norms and ideas about team success from old models of work that can block our creativity. This workshop reveals such creativity "blockers," and offers strategies and tools for moving forward and harnessing the  full power of teams.  In the process, participants learn how to create new ground rules and  norms to fuel team inclusion and creativity.  Note: Innovation’s Secret Sauce is 45 minutes and available as an add-on to other workshops.

Untying Double Binds

Research shows that women often face unique negative tradeoffs in the workplace, particularly as they try to advance in their organizations.  The  “likeability trap," for example, pits women's professional success against their personal appeal: the more competent a women is perceived to be, the less likeable she will be rated.  A similar tradeoff  for women occurs when it comes to  taking credit for accomplishments.   After being routinely passed over for underplaying their achievements, women who decide to try to "toot their own horn" run the risk of being judged as too aggressive or self-promoting.   Furthermore, the role of motherhood creates a whole new set of tensions and tradeoffs between being perceived as a good mother versus a good employee.

The good news is that there are proven strategies women can use to recognize and navigate these challenges.  This workshop focuses on these evidence-driven solutions. Participants will come away with the ability to identify double binds, and  specific tools with which they can better advocate for themselves and other women in an organizational context.

Note: Untying Double Binds is designed primarily for women. All other workshops are for mixed-gender groups.