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Speaking to the World

Steve  Pemberton

Steve Pemberton

Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance & Best Selling Author


Steve Pemberton’s story is about defying seemingly insurmountable odds—overcoming abuse and neglect as an orphan in foster care to become a trail-blazing corporate executive, enlightened diversity leader, visionary youth advocate and acclaimed speaker. His best-selling memoir, A Chance in the World, recounts his triumphant life journey and drive to become a man of resilience, determination and vision. Now an upcoming major motion picture, A Chance in the World further amplifies Steve’s highly motivational messages: Believe in your dreams, rise above obstacles, create opportunities for others, and most of all, persevere. Read More >

Determined to use his success as a platform to lift up others, Steve has made equality, access and opportunity pillars of both his professional and personal life. He currently serves as Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise in the world. He is the first person in Walgreens’ 100-plus year history to hold the position of Chief Diversity Officer, overseeing the company’s global efforts to create and maintain a diverse and inclusive environment that reflects the culture, people and perspectives of the many nations in which they do business. In his personal life, Steve is a passionate champion for disadvantaged youth, serving on several boards including The Home for Little Wanderers and UCAN. He established The Pemberton Fund for the Future at The Home for Little Wanderers to provide help and guidance to children aging out of foster care. Steve’s achievements have earned him national recognition, including the coveted Trumpet Award and the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Helping Hand Award. He was also awarded the prestigious Horizon Award by the United States Congress, presented to individuals in the private sector who have contributed to expanding opportunities for all Americans.

As a keynote speaker, Steve has earned high praise for his highly collaborative style, working closely with clients to seamlessly customize his content to the messaging goals for each event. A gifted communicator and powerful storyteller, Steve consistently receives stellar reviews for his ability to connect with a wide spectrum of audiences, ranging from business and healthcare organizations to education and community groups. As one client raved, “He was the best keynote speaker we could have gotten and I was sincerely praised for it.” Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

A Chance in the World Promo

A Chance in the World - Movie Trailer

A Chance in the World Sneak Preview

A Chance in the World - Reunion

On Diversity and Inclusion

On Faith

Hope Is a Powerful Word

ICON MANN 28 Men of Change

Speech Topics

A Chance in the World

Steve Pemberton’s inspirational story, A Chance in the World, has touched the hearts of millions. In this inspiring presentation, Steve tells how he defied seemingly impossible odds as an orphaned boy navigating the foster care system—all while trying to solve the mystery of his own identity and destiny. Steve also provides valuable lessons on self-empowerment, breaking negative cycles, creating a vision and achieving your goals—even when everyone says you don’t have a chance in the world. This unforgettable keynote from an exceptional speaker can be customized to reflect your organization’s focus, culture, objectives and specific challenges.

A Chance to Lead: Navigating Adversity with Strategies from Everyday Heroes

Steve Pemberton has discovered invaluable life lessons and leadership strategies in the stories of everyday heroes that have triumphed in the face of adversity. These inspiring people do not necessarily fit America’s ideas of a traditional hero. Instead, they’re redefining what heroism truly means through their character and values, as well as the humility, strength, courage and perseverance that they’ve shown in challenging circumstances. Drawing from these inspirational stories and his own odds-defying personal and professional journey, Steve shares strategies that any leader, team or organization can use to navigate adversity, overcome obstacles and bring the best out of every employee. 

A New Take on Diversity: Moving from Labels to Experiences

After growing up in foster care and being labeled as a boy “without a chance in the world” Steve Pemberton has never cared for labelling people.  Drawing upon his experience as Chief Diversity Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, Pemberton discusses how the conversation on diversity should move away from a sole emphasis on classifying people by their visible characteristics. Instead, we should focus on who they are and the life experience they bring. Pemberton will outline how this approach brought increased shareholder value to Walgreens and Monster—and how it can be implemented by any company. By shifting the paradigm, you won’t just get more out of your employees. You’ll increase focus, company morale, customer engagement and top-line revenue.

A Chance to Lead: Recognizing Potential to Maximize Performance

As an orphaned foster child, Steve Pemberton was “given a chance” by a teacher that saw his potential. This life-changing event would later shape his leadership as a human resources executive and diversity officer at Monster.com and Walgreens.  In this compelling keynote for executives, hiring managers and recruiters, Pemberton lays out strategies for leaders that recognize hidden talent and create an organizational culture that gives each team member their best chance at success.  Pemberton shares real-life examples of employees and executives that saw the potential in people by looking beyond what others would see as disabilities or liabilities. He also shows how micro cultural changes can grow to become cultural norms within your entire organization.

Breakout Session: Effective Strategies for Building a Great Team

This empowering, interactive breakout session focuses on the key strategies and behaviors that drive successful teams and further collaboration. Participants will learn how to leverage different views to improve outcomes, understand how to ask the right questions to build a powerful team dynamic, and build a culture of inspired engagement.

What Is a Man's Responsibility to Advance Women in the Workplace?

Steve Pemberton, Global Chief Diversity Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, tackles this often discussed topic with candor, clarity and conviction. His long career in diversity and inclusion work at Monster.com and now Walgreens Boots Alliance led him to develop the Five R's for advancing women in the workplace: Recognize, Respect, Regard, Re-Evaluate, Repeat. This framework has created a sustainable culture of inclusivity that moves beyond corrective action to a powerful embrace of the competitive advantage that full inclusion of women often provides. Told in Steve's inspirational style with powerful examples, audiences will leave empowered and inspired to move forward in their gender inclusion journey.

One America: The Micro Cultural Changes to Bring the “United” Back into U.S.A.

Steve Pemberton recently wrote, “There is a quiet whisper happening in our country today and we’re wondering whether or not we’re getting this right. We’re wondering about the daily deluge of cynicism, the me-first kind of behaviors, the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ kind of culture, and becoming increasingly disconnected as we are becoming technologically connected.”In this inspiring keynote, Pemberton calls for all of us to drive cultural change and bring the “united” back to the United States through a “One America” ideology. Steve uses his own story to demonstrate how people can unite as one to overcome impossible odds—inspiring all of us to return to faith and service.