Bernadette Smith


  • Consultant
  • Speaker
  • Workshop Facilitator

Bernadette is a diversity and inclusion keynote speaker. She’s an award-winning author of four books, including her latest, the bestseller Inclusive 360: Proven Solutions for an Equitable Organization. Bernadette takes away overwhelm and fear of judgement about diversity and instead uses relatability and humor to inspire action — even among the skeptics.


To create spaces where every human feels safe to be authentically themselves.

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Popular Talks

Inclusive Leadership
With candor and humor, we share the critical must-know practices for leaders to minimize hidden bias, empower under-represented team members, and create a profitable culture of inclusion. Leaders walk away with a greater understanding of diversity and inclusion, as well as simple, practical tools to strengthen their leadership skills.

LGBTQ Workplace Empowerment
Bernadette illustrates key principles of inclusive leadership through a queer lens. This is a high-energy, high-engagement session designed to help LGBTQ people feel confident and empowered to fulfill their potential as an emerging leader within your organization.


More Than Words: Develop a 360 Approach to Reap the Untapped Rewards of Diversity
There’s a ton of data that tells us that diversity brings greater profitability to organizations. Is your organization reaping those rewards of diversity?

Many organizations have a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy focused primarily on talent acquisition and training. But training and coaching can only move the needle on DEI so far – yet training is often the first (and only) approach that organizations take to advance diversity.

To truly reap the rewards of diversity, organizations must instead embed equity and inclusion into workplace systems and functions. Like the spokes on a wheel, reaching across the organization from the inside out with inclusive systems is the only way to fulfill the promise of diversity long term, and holistically.

In this high-energy and entertaining 45 minute keynote, bestselling author and speaker Bernadette Smith introduces you to her PSA model – a proven formula for expanding the reach of your DEI initiatives, to help your organization become Inclusive 360. Organizations that are Inclusive 360 live their values not only with their employees but also with their customers and suppliers. Those are the organizations that reap the untapped rewards of diversity and inclusion. Bernadette will show you how.

Voices Carry: Everyone’s Role as an Ally in the Workplace
Diversity means everyone. But it’s not always easy to connect with people different from us because of the assumptions that sometimes creep into everyday conversations. Assumptions cause us to miss opportunities to build genuine rapport with our team and our clients, leading to low employee engagement scores and high turnover.

Instead of making assumptions about others, the trick is to ask better questions.

In this high-energy and entertaining 45 minute keynote, bestselling author and speaker Bernadette Smith introduces the ARC Method®, a powerful and memorable tool to connect across differences through the power of curiosity. ARC stands for Ask, Respect, Connect. You can bring the ARC Method® to any context: to everything from organizational strategic planning, 1:1 meetings with employees, and even difficult conversations.

Bernadette has been described as a “spark plug of insight” and brings a fresh and non-judgmental approach to diversity and inclusion. She challenges the status quo while remaining practical and actionable. Attendees will learn how to follow the ARC and gain simple tools for meaningful conversations that lead to a more positive, inclusive culture.

“Bernadette was a great external speaker who intentionally connected her messages to our firm’s values and culture. Even though Bernadette was the last presenter on a long day of trainings, she kept the audience engaged and active throughout the presentation.”
— Jonathan Philipp, Grant Thornton

“This was one of the best presentations I have ever seen. Bernadette is a tremendous leader and amazing speaker.”
— Michael Gold, Northern Trust

Bernadette is a spark plug of energy and ideas. I wish I could hear her every week!”
—GRAYSEN B., Constellation Brands

Bernadette Smith is founder and CEO of Equality Institute and award-winning author of four books, including the bestseller Inclusive 360: Proven Solutions for an Equitable Organization.

Bernadette has presented to enthusiastic audiences of CEOs, associations, entrepreneurs, leadership teams, sales professionals, account executives, marketing executives, human resource managers and more.

Her expertise has been sought after by the New York Times, Forbes, the Washington Post, and Fast Company, among many others, and she’s appeared on the Today Show, the BBC, National Public Radio, and CNN.

Bernadette has been named one of Chicago’s Notable LGBTQ Executives by Crain’s Chicago Business and hosts the weekly podcast 5 Things in 15 Minutes: Bringing Good Vibes to DEI.

Let’s collaborate to ensure a transformative experience.