Available forKeynote, Virtual Presentation, Fireside Chat, Panel, Moderator, Emcee, Webinar, Workshop and Training
Domestic In-Person (USA): $20,000*
International In-Person: Please inquire
* Ranges are presented as a guideline only. Speaker fees vary by engagement type and are subject to change without notice. For an exact quote, please contact Gravity Speakers.
Traveling FromCalifornia, USA
TED speaker, diversity and inclusion advocate, and leader in building inclusive innovation around the world.
Melinda Briana Epler has 25 years of experience elevating brands and developing business innovation strategies for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and global NGOs.
As CEO of Empovia (formerly Change Catalyst), Melinda works with her clients and partners to solve diversity and inclusion together. Using her background in storytelling, behavioral science, and large-scale culture change, she is a strategic advisor for companies, innovation hubs, and governments around the world. She also co-founded Tech Inclusion, a series of global solutions-focused conferences where she partnered with over 450 tech companies and community organizations and hosted over 50 solutions-focused diversity and inclusion events. Previously, Melinda was a Marketing and Culture Executive and award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Melinda is a TED speaker who speaks, mentors, and writes about diversity and inclusion, inclusive innovation, empathy, and entrepreneurship. She is the author of How to Be an Ally (McGraw-Hill) and the host of the popular “Leading With Empathy & Allyship” podcast. She has spoken on hundreds of stages worldwide, including SXSW, Grace Hopper, Wisdom 2.0, the World Bank, White House, Clinton Foundation, Black Enterprise, Google, Indeed, Capital One, UC Berkeley, and McKinsey.
How To Be An Ally
How can you help someone else to thrive? How can you interrupt the biases, microaggressions, and inequities that prevent others from excelling? How can you build an innovative workplace fueled by equity, diversity, and belonging?
In her practical and timely book HOW TO BE AN ALLY: Actions You Can Take for a Stronger, Happier Workplace, diversity and inclusion expert and CEO of Empovia, Melinda Briana Epler, offers a playbook for much-needed change in the workplace—change to ensure everyone feels safe, valued, and able to thrive.
- Learn, unlearn, and relearn. Learn to recognize historical harm and its intergenerational impact, unlearn biases from history and cultural marginalization, and relearn from new perspectives.
- Do no harm—understand and correct our biases. Work to change your behaviors and actions to avoid unintentional harm.
- Recognize and overcome microaggressions. Develop your awareness and empathy skills to identify and eliminate these toxic behaviors.
- Advocate for people. Step up and advocate in small, everyday ways that can make big differences in people’s lives.
- Stand up for what’s right. Intervene to stop microaggressions and support people who have been harmed.
- Lead the change. When you’re ready, take action to lead change in your work, on your team(s), and in your workplace.
- Transform your organization, industry, and society. Address biases and inequities in your company and in the broader world.
The key to true diversity, equity, and inclusion is allyship. Uniquely insightful and deeply needed, HOW TO BE AN ALLY humanizes diversity and inclusion and facilitates greater empathy and understanding between people of all identities. Through the power of allyship, we can all correct imbalances in opportunity and create a better workplace for ourselves and our colleagues.
Leading with Empathy & Allyship Workshop
Based on Melinda’s popular TED talk, this workshop provides actionable steps anyone can take to be a better ally and advocate for underrepresented people in the workplace. A roadmap for all of us to lead with empathy and become better allies for each other.
In order to build empathy and understanding, we discuss some experiences colleagues might be going through, such as tokenism, impostor syndrome, stereotype threat, biases, microaggressions, harassment, bullying, marginalization and systemic inequities. Then we’ll focus on solutions: learning ways to avoid unintentionally offending or harming people, identifying key biases and microaggressions and their effects, developing a deeper understanding of allyship and empathy, hearing several examples of allyship and advocacy, and committing to tangible, actionable steps to be a better ally and advocate for underrepresented people in the workplace.
During this interactive workshop, participants work through our Allyship Canvas, a practical guide for anyone to apply the concepts of allyship and develop their own plan for becoming a better ally. By the end of the session, attendees commit to one another to take specific actions. For people of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions, ages, disabilities, and other identities.
We’ll customize this training with you to ensure we’re achieving your desired outcomes, work with you on a communications plan, debrief with you following each training, and recommend ways to continue engaging the team around this topic.
Two hour session.
- Leading with Empathy and Allyship for Executive Teams: Created specifically for executives, this highly interactive session creates a safe space for executives to learn to lead with greater empathy and allyship for underrepresented people across the organization. We’ll also discuss accountability, and creating new norms across the culture that invite allyship and continuous growth. Prior to the training, we’ll work with you and the executive team to better understand the specific needs and objectives for this session, through conversations and a brief survey.
- Leading with Empathy and Allyship in a Virtual Work Environment: This session addresses the foundations of empathy and allyship similar to Leading with Empathy and Allyship, but centers specifically on the current virtual work environment. We’ll talk through some of the unique challenges underrepresented people face during these unprecedented times, and how each of us can better lead with empathy and allyship right now.
Activating Allies Workshop
Created for employee resource groups, Diversity and Inclusion Advocates, executives, managers and other internal advocates to learn how to build more allies and advocates across the organization. This is a highly interactive workshop where attendees (individuals and teams) work through a roadmap for building allies.
We walk through the Stages of Allyship, so that leaders can identify where individuals might be on their allyship journey. We discuss ideal programs or interventions that are appropriate at each stage of allyship. We also spend a bit of time discussing organizational and behavior change principles, so leaders are equipped with a foundation for understanding of how organizational change happens.
Using an Activating Allies Canvas, participants work in small groups to design a plan for supporting allies at different Stages of Allyship, and help move them to the next stage. They begin to work through the first steps of enacting their plan together: from the activities they might launch, resources they’ll need, ways they’ll build influence and community, communications channels, and more.
At the end of this session, leaders have a rough roadmap for cultivating allies across their team, organization, or group, with tangible next steps clearly outlined. We’ll customize this training with you to ensure we’re achieving your desired outcomes, work with you on communications plan, debrief with you following each training, and recommend ways to continue engaging the team around this topic.
Interrupting Biases and Microaggressions
This interactive session builds understanding about biases, where they come from, and how to interrupt them. We’ll also address what microaggressions are, how they make people feel, and how to interrupt them in ourselves. We’ll discuss tactics for interrupting microaggressions committed by others, ways to mitigate biases in how we go about our work, and strategies for mitigating biases and microaggressions on teams. In small group work, participants will put tools and scripts they have learned into practice. At the end of the session, the group will make commitments to one another to take action via a Commitment Wall.
From Hiring to Belonging: Strategies for Retaining Diverse Talent
Once you hire underrepresented talent and create a diverse team, how do you ensure they are engaged, committed and feel like they belong? We’ll customize this workshop to address specific topics based on your desired outcomes. These may include: professional development programs, developing or improving ERGs, inclusive physical spaces, inclusive remote cultures, inclusive team building, benefits packages, pay and promotion equity auditing, increasing psychological safety, succession planning, and many other opportunities to ensure underrepresented talent feels safe, welcomed, included and a sense of belonging at your company.
One or two-hour session.
Building Inclusive Teams: For Managers, Executives, or Entire Teams
In this session, we work with team managers, executives or groups to create more inclusive teams. We discuss methods for creating welcoming team environments; building psychological safety; engaging colleagues through opportunities, processes and programs; retaining team members through transparency and authenticity, growth opportunities, and pathways for professional development; and creating a culture where everyone is valued for their unique experience and expertise and feels they belong. We walk through some key inclusive leadership skills, share best practices for modeling DEI for your team, as well as strategies for holding individuals accountable for building an inclusive team together, and we leave time to work through questions and troubleshoot key blockers for leaders.
Throughout this session, participants will have a worksheet where they will begin to develop their Inclusive Team Roadmap. Participants will start to work through what path they might take with their team to create a culture of inclusion and allyship. At the end of this session, leaders will have a rough roadmap for building inclusion across their teams, with tangible next steps outlined.
For managers, executives, or entire teams.
Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
At one time or another, most people experience Impostor Syndrome, that feeling that you are a fraud, where you doubt your expertise and accomplishments that qualify you to be where you are. Unfortunately people who are underrepresented experience this more often, due to being “the only,” facing multiple barriers and biases, experiencing microaggressions and trauma, taxed with stereotype threat or tokenism, etc. In this workshop, we recognize some of the reasons for impostor syndrome, and the active work to disrupt it in ourselves. Our individual toolkit includes embodied presence and authenticity, personal storytelling, facing fears by building resilience and courage, and building true support structures. By the end of this session, participants will have worked through some of their own impostor syndrome and have a set of new tools they can use when impostor syndrome arises in the future.
One or two-hour session.
Melinda Epler is a seasoned keynote speaker, panel moderator, and emcee. All featured workshops can be structured to fit your company’s needs.
Additional topics Melinda can address include:
- Custom Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sessions
- Custom Allyship and Antiracism Content
- How to Change Behavior and Build Movements
- Creating Inclusive Startups
- Building Programs for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs
- “Melinda is a thought leader in the space of diversity and inclusion. . . . She cares deeply about underrepresented people, and also has the ability to turn this into real action that changes lives.” Dr. Ian McDonald Worldwide Lead, Tech Engagement Team, Microsoft for Startups
- “Melinda Briana Epler is one of the most inclusive and thoughtful leaders I have ever encountered. . . . Anyone reading this illuminating and instructional book will find themselves on their own journey from apathy to full-on advocacy by its end.” Rachel Williams Head of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity, X – The Moonshot Factory
- “If we have learned anything in the past year, it was the urgent need for allies in all facets of life. I’ve had the honor of working and partnering with Melinda over the years and she has modeled what it means to be an active ally. This book brings together what she has learned into powerful action-oriented frameworks.” Tiffany Yu CEO & Founder, Diversability
- “Melinda’s dedication to creating safer, more inclusive organizations has had a profound impact on the tech industry. I’m grateful she’s taken the time to share her learnings so that individuals and companies across industries can begin their own journeys in action.” Katelin Holloway Founding Partner, Seven Seven Six
- “The term ‘thought-leader’ is tossed out casually, however that is exactly what Melinda Briana Epler epitomizes. She is a leader who through her work, gently but forcefully, guides all of us to reexamine long-standing beliefs on meritocracy and then to take incremental, meaningful, and daily actions to build truly inclusive workplaces.” J. Kelly Hoey Investor and Author, Build Your Dream Network
- “Melinda’s book is an accessible must-read! She provides thought-provoking historical context and, crucially, offers up many tangible ways to combine understanding and empathy in concrete actions that will make for a better workplace—as well as simply making us better people.” Adam Quinton Board Member and Treasurer, Holy Cross Energy