The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Fighting Bias is Your Organization’s Superpower: Jessica Nordell, Author of The End of Bias

Even the most well-intentioned teams and leaders have “unexamined bias,” says Jessica Nordell. It makes us treat others in unfair ways on the basis of gender, race, and more, and it keeps us from unlocking our full potential as an organization. “People behave in discriminatory ways all the time,” Jessica says. “But it’s important to remember that they want to do the right thing.” And when we recognize our bias, we can work on eliminating it—and propel ourselves and our companies to greater heights.

In her talks and workshops, Jessica draws on her decade of research for her book, showing you how to identify and fight bias in your workplace to increase productivity, teamwork, and performance. Among many other things, she discusses:

  • Multiple case studies, including a law firm that saw a 70% growth in revenue after reducing gender bias.
  • How working against bias creates an environment where employees are more engaged, happier, and have greater trust within their teams—directly improving client relationships.
  • Why leadership buy-in is essential for long-term positive change.

A well-respected speaker on diversity, organizational culture, and of course bias, Jessica speaks without blame or shame, focusing on the practical steps you can take today to reduce bias and find success. “If we want to have better employee engagement, less turnover, more dynamic and productive employees,” she says, “then we need to think about this seriously and take steps to combat it.”

The Best Outcome for Black Women Is the Best for Us All: Anna Gifty, Editor of The Black Agenda

Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is the editor of the seminal The Black Agenda, the first book to feature Black experts highlighting injustices, and their solutions, in different policy areas (like climate, technology, healthcare, and more). It’s an essential guidebook for social justice that Kirkus called “an inclusive, edifying, often fiery assembly of voices articulating the way forward for Black America—and America in general.” She’s also the co-founder of the renowned Sadie Collective, where Black women in STEM can share resources, network, and advocate for broader visibility in the field.

A leading voice in social justice, she believes that crafting policies that center our most vulnerable is key to creating a more just society for everyone. In talks, Anna translates her studies and experiences into actionable strategies for the workplace and beyond.

“We have a chance still to uplift one another without leaving anyone behind,” says Anna. “But that requires that we break from the lockstep of inaction and enter a new dance floor, perhapsone characterized by progress, promise, and preparation for a future that includes all of us, regardless of where we come from, and where we decide to go.”

MIT’s Susan Hockfield Joins Effort to Reduce Bias in Biotech Funding Reports The Washington Post

Though there has been a significant improvement for women in the sciences over the past few decades, men continue to dominate leadership positions, especially in the biotech sphere. Lavin Speaker and former President of MIT Susan Hockfield teamed up with entrepreneur Sangeeta Bhatia and biologist Nancy Hopkins to push for change. 

Susan Hockfield, Sangeeta Bhatia, and Nancy Hopkins—a biologist who uncovered discrimination at MIT in the 1990s—joined forces to quantify gender bias in the biotech industry, starting with the university. They found that out of 250 start-ups by MIT faculty, less than 10% of were founded by women—despite the fact that women make up 22% of the institution. “We were roughly aware, [even] without data, that women were not participating at the rate that men were, and that, to us, represents a missed opportunity,” Hockfield said. In this specific case, the missed opportunity translates into 40 biotech companies that do not exist today.


Wanting more than just to illustrate the problem, the trio have convened the Boston biotech working group—including the investor community and leaders at MIT—to make sure something changes. MIT is now working on a fellowship that offers tenured female faculty the opportunity to take a semester off to work at a venture capital firm, a practice they hope will continue at other universities.


Read the full article here.


To book speaker Susan Hockfield for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Does Diversity Training Really Work? Angela Duckworth and Katherine Milkman Explore in Harvard Business Review

Diversity is increasingly valued in the workplace, meaning that diversity training has become a commonplace offering for employees. But is it really yielding measurable results? Lavin speakers Angela Duckworth and Katherine Milkman explore in Harvard Business Review

Though diversity training is available at virtually all Fortune 500 companies, surprisingly few of them have measured the effects. Much of the data suggests that even when training is beneficial, employee behavior doesn’t necessarily change outside of the program. Even more concerning is that evidence shows diversity training can have the opposite of its intended effect: eliciting defensiveness in the very people it hopes to empower. 

Lavin speakers Angela Duckworth and Katherine Milkman, along with several of their colleagues, created a training program based on the most relevant scientific findings on behavior change. They rigorously tested their program to determine whether they could change employee attitudes and inspire more inclusive behaviorand whether those behaviors would last.


Duckworth, Milkman, and the team created three one-hour training programs using participants from a large global organization. Of the three programs, the first focused on gender bias; the second addressed biases more generally; and the third, which served as a control, covered psychological safety with no diversity angle whatsoever.


While the results did suggest that bias-focused training had positive effects on the attitudes of select groups, it had no measurable effect on the behavior of men or white peoplethe two groups who traditionally hold the most power in organizations, and who diversity training is most targeted towards. 

Based on the findings of the experiment, Duckworth and Milkman suggest that organizations diversify their approach by investing in multi-pronged programs; regularly collect and review data to better understand a program’s effectiveness; and treat the training as an experiment, measured against a control group, to develop more meaningful insights.


You can read the full results of the experiment here


Interested in booking a Diversity and Inclusion speaker for your next event? Visit our dedicated Corporate Culture speakers page.

Transformative Organizational Change Isn’t Impossible. New Speaker Heather McGhee Has Done It and Can Show You How.

In the wake of two wrongful, racially motivated arrests in their store, Starbucks entrusted  HEATHER C. MCGHEE and her team at Demos to create and implement a groundbreaking racial bias training strategy. Now Lavin’s latest speaker, McGhee is a policy expert and natural storyteller who draws from her research and experience to help kickstart transformative organizational change. Everyone can do it, it just takes work.  

Heather McGhee is an expert in economic and social policy, racial healing, and transformative organizational change. More than that, McGhee is a storyteller. Her talks ask audiences to consider—at a time of increasing diversitywho is an American, and what are we to one another? For McGhee, America’s racial and cultural diversity is its greatest asset, and she helps audiences—in corporate board rooms, the halls of Congress, and in the streets—learn how to realize this potential through compassionate education and concrete actions.


As the former president of the inequality-focused think tank Demos, she drafted legislation, testified before Congress, and became a regular contributor on shows like Meet the Press and Real Time with Bill Maher. She also led Demos’ own racial equity organizational transformation, resulting in a doubling of the organization’s racial diversity and growth across all measures of organizational impact. McGhee’s riveting talks communicate this with passion and seriousness, “challenging the paradigm of racial competition in this country.”  


If you’re looking to make your company, organization, or association a more diverse and unified place, you can learn more about speakers like Heather McGhee by visiting our dedicated Diversity & Inclusion topic page.   >