Through carefully crafted words and meaningful messages that are impactful on a personal and professional level Vernā will deliver a Keynote to your organization that is powerful, authentic, clear and meaningful. By weaving together recent data, historical facts, current events and personal stories Vernā’s message is often considered the starting point to a journey for the individuals and the organizations that join her.
Keynote sessions are 60 minutes in length, which includes a brief question and answer session.
Best suited for: Leadership/executive/managing partners
Cultural Competency isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a critical characteristic of any successful leader. As organizations look to diversify their workforce and remain competitive and relevant in a constantly changing world and global marketplace, leaders must learn how to create inclusive, enriching, respectful environments for those around them. Effective leaders have honed the skill to motivate and manage a heterogeneous group of people, to get the best out of them and to allow their differences to positively impact the enterprise. This skill is called cultural competence – the ability to understand, recognize, and utilize knowledge and skills to engage effectively across differences.
This interactive, energetic Keynote will help leaders see themselves and those they work with as cultural beings, helps them to identify areas where culture may be affecting team effectiveness and gives them tools to build the type of culture and environment that will bring out the best in the people they are leading and serving.
Best suited for: All audiences
“OH NO, THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT!” or “DON’T GET ME WRONG, BUT…”
Every day in the media we see people “stepping in it”- trying to explain how some offensive thing they did or said wasn’t meant to be derogatory or disrespectful of a group of people. Even in meetings, at work, in the classroom and around the dining room table things get said or done that cause great pain, confusion, and disengagement. Some of us blunder forward, but many more of us withdraw from interacting across differences, fearing we will make a mistake. This paralysis makes it hard for us to work in diverse teams and live in diverse communities.
In this provocative and instructive Keynote, Verna will help the audience learn not only how to address the verbal, written missteps and negative actions of others, but what to do if they “step in it” themselves. This is a must heard Keynote for any person who is in a position where they can lead by example, even if they “stepped in it” themselves.
Best suited for: All audiences
Organizations with long-standing, deep commitments to creating a culture of inclusion still report hitting roadblocks on their journey. They work hard to hire the right people, create formal programs to support their employees, encourage candid discussions, and do lots of training. But too often people from historically excluded groups continue to feel marginalized and unable to contribute at their highest levels – and ultimately some leave. The barrier to their success is often the failure to recognize that cultural differences matter, the complexity of difference, and the power of social hierarchy and privilege that advantages some groups over others.
Privilege is not a dirty word, and the people who have it generally have not asked for it. It is a word that recognizes that not all people are similarly situated in an organization – based on no fault of their own – because of societal norms that exist both inside and outside the workplace. In order to advance a real culture of inclusion, all employees must understand cultural differences and how to use their privilege to be an ally, interrupt bias, and foster equity. The use of privilege is, in fact, a key part of cultural competence – the ability to understand, recognize, and utilize knowledge and skills to cultivate talent from all backgrounds.
During this candid and motivational presentation, Vernā will discuss what real inclusion looks like across cultural difference in the workplace; the concept of intersectionality – the ways our different identities overlap and cause certain individuals and groups to fall through the cracks of our inclusion efforts; what privilege is and how it can hinder good intentions and actions around inclusion; and how everyone can use privilege to reach across their differences to create more inclusion.
Best suited for: All audiences
Our society is at a crossroad. Political views, race, class, gender, and geography are dividing us more than ever. We are pulling back from one another, drawing the idea of family and community too small, clinging to people who are “like” us, and being afraid of, or angry with, the “other.” But separation and retrenchment are not the way forward. To overcome the epidemic of hatred, bigotry, and oppression, we need to expand and reimagine a more inclusive community and society. We each need to act – we need to commit to reaching across our differences instead of giving in to isolation, fear, and hostility.
In this compelling talk, Vernā shares her vision of how we can all move forward, using her four Cs of progress – Cultural Curiosity, Compassion, Consciousness, and Courage. Participants will leave energized and with practical tools for connecting in small and large ways to people who are different.
Best suited for: All audiences or female centric
Bras may have been burnt years ago, but there is still a fight to be won.
Decades of women in the workplace and graduate schools across many industries have proven that women are smart, capable, hard working and committed to their families and their professions. Yet, gender inequality still prevails in the C-suite, boardrooms, teams and in politics. We have evidence that bias, explicit or unconscious, are still alive and well and creating barriers to opportunity and advancement every single day in most organizations. When women are well represented, respected and reflected in decision-making roles, studies suggests they bring certain invaluable qualities, approaches and capabilities that strengthen their organization’s performance.
For organizations and our society to thrive, women must thrive. If women are not allowed to realize their full potential, our businesses, families, communities and society as a whole will suffer.
This candid and motivational Keynote makes clear the value women bring to their organizations, what biases and structural barriers prevent their advancement, how women can use their power to overcome barriers including their own sometimes self-limiting behavior, and best practices for organizations moving women forward.
Best suited for: All audiences, especially talent development professionals, hiring managers and members of a team.
It is said that seeing is believing; but what about what we don’t realize we are seeing?
Despite all our good intentions and our desire to be fair and merit-based in our assessments of others, our unconscious biases create blind spots. Decades of research by social scientists make it clear that our brains take short cuts to conclusions without telling us. They rely heavily on schemas- ideas and things that go together- to make evaluations. It can be an efficient system, but it can also be a faulty one, and cause us to misjudge and exclude people based on old societal stereotypes, preferences and our personal belief system.
This is not because we are bad people, it’s because we are people. If an organization wants to attract, retain and advance diverse talent and better understand and serve a diverse customer and client base, its people can’t be in denial. Instead they must get curious and start looking for the implicit biases that are undermining their explicit beliefs, values and goals.
This disarmingly humorous and content rich Keynote explains how important it is for leaders, managers, teammates and colleagues to identify the biases in themselves and in the workplace and learn specific ways they can begin to counter their own behaviors.