Best-Selling Author and Chief Human Resources Officer, Workhuman
Considered one of America’s most inspiring business and HR leaders, Steve Pemberton’s triumphant life story is about defying seemingly insurmountable beginnings as a child orphaned into foster care. As told in the major motion picture and acclaimed, best-selling memoir, A Chance in the World, adversity only fueled his desire to become a man of resilience, determination and vision. Steve went on to find success as a corporate executive, innovative diversity and inclusion thought leader, visionary youth advocate and acclaimed speaker devoted to inspiring and helping others. Steve’s keynotes, like his life story, amplify his highly motivational messages: Believe in your dreams, rise above obstacles, create opportunities for others, and most of all, persevere.
Steve has made equality, access and opportunity pillars of both his professional and personal life. He currently serves as Chief Human Resources Officer for Workhuman (formerly Globoforce), a leading provider of social recognition and continuous performance development solutions. In this capacity, he is responsible for all aspects of people function from talent acquisition and human resource systems to performance management. Prior to that, he served as the first-ever Global Chief Diversity Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global, pharmacy-led health and wellbeing enterprise in the world. Under Steve’s leadership, Walgreens reached record levels of performance on nearly every measure of diversity and inclusion, ranging from representation to supplier diversity spend. An extended part of his responsibility was to further the companies’ pioneering efforts to employ people with disabilities. In that capacity, he frequently represented Walgreens’ employment model at the White House and on Capitol Hill. In 2015, he was appointed by United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to serve on the Advisory Committee for the Competitive Integrated Employment of People with Disabilities.
As the best-selling author of A Chance in the World, Steve has shared his beginnings as a ward of the state and extraordinary life journey to Boston College and the corporate world with millions. Featured in People Magazine, The Washington Post and on CBS Evening News, amongst many others, the book has been translated into multiple languages and continues to inspire audiences around the world. The movie adaption of his life, starring Tom Sizemore and Nick Turturro was released in 2018. Steve’s tireless advocacy for the disenfranchised has earned him numerous accolades, including 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. He also created his own foundation, A Chance in the World, that specifically focuses on helping young adults who age out of the foster care system.