Global Inclusion in Practice Podcast
Global Inclusion in Practice Podcast
The Neuroscience of Inclusion: Marcia Goddard on Change and Culture

The Neuroscience of Inclusion: Marcia Goddard on Change and Culture

“I deal with it by being brutally honest about what I can do, what they have to do, and what is necessary in order to make it work.“

Dr. Marcia Goddard wants you to know that she’s not your average neuroscientist. What she really wants to do is break stereotypes and show not only how relevant neuroscience is for everything that we do but also that you don't have to be boring, old and grey - and male and white - to be a neuroscientist. It can be young and fun and engaging - and there’s so much value in understanding your brain.

Yes, she’s fascinating, and this is a conversation with so many surprising turns. Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride! 

“I really want to show people that you can be like me, you can have my background, you can look the way I look and still be a scientist.” Dr. Marcia Goddard 

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Marcia is not only an advocate for women in STEM. She helps organizations with challenges related to mental health, well-being, and DEI, mostly in high-performance environments. She specializes in brain-behavior relationships and their impact on performance, team dynamics, and culture. What not everyone realizes is all of those things are interconnected, especially looking at the value of understanding the part your brain plays in behavior change.

A lot of DEI is about behavior change, and the brain is where that all starts. In particular, it's about changing your perspective, challenging your own biases, and self-reflection. And all of those things are easier when you understand, from neuroscience, why they are so difficult. 

“Make it easier for people to work on their own problems by making it easier to see why it's difficult.” Marjolijn Vlug

Marcia’s way of navigating is by being brutally honest. She addresses the myth that what a consultant does is step in to magically fix all of your problems: “I can't. But I can help *you* fix your problems.” And she knows and addresses with us what that truly takes.

“I have been surprised about how little things can have a big impact in your work. How just saying, ‘I understand that that must be difficult for you’ can lead to major breakthroughs.” Dr. Marcia Goddard 

We talked with Marcia about the pros and cons of being an external consultant versus an internal DEI manager as she considers becoming a Chief Diversity Officer in the future and the questions she would ask before taking on such a role. Still, instead of thinking and planning ahead too much, Marcia’s choice is to follow her heart. Currently in her third career, if you had told her two years ago that this is where she would be today, she would not have believed you.

In addition to science, Marcia’s heart is in a surprising place: Formula 1 racing. 

Vivian: “Lewis Hamilton, if you're listening, Marcia would like to interview you.”

Marcia: “Actually, Marcia would like to work for you and contribute to your charity mission.”

Marjolijn: “Well, anyone who's listening to this, who knows Lewis Hamilton, or who knows someone who knows Lewis Hamilton, tell them!”

That pitch aside, Marcia explains how successful Formula 1 racing offers a treasure trove of information about organizational culture. She also sees huge opportunities in AI when budgeted and leveraged well - and when we change our mindset about it. Then, she says, the results can be amazing. And the world can really be a better place.

“We need all parties to elevate the conversation and to celebrate inclusion.” 
Vivian Acquah

Marcia talks about what inclusion is really about, and she shares a remarkable story of what can happen when we're able to (or guided to) challenge our own biases, sit down, and have a real conversation. And connect.  

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About Dr. Marcia Goddard:

Dr. Marcia Goddard is a neuroscientist specialized in sustainable high performance. She is the founder of Contentment for Business and helps organizations with challenges related to well-being and DEI to create thriving cultures.


Connect with Dr. Marcia Goddard via


Resources & references in this episode:

  • Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, a 2017 non-fiction book by neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky. (Book)

  • The Best of Enemies, a 2019 American drama film directed and written by Robin Bissell (Movie) 

Global Inclusion in Practice Podcast
Global Inclusion in Practice Podcast
Listen in on the behind-the-scenes stories of DEI change-makers from around the world and be inspired to make a difference in your own work.
In the Global Inclusion in Practice Podcast, Vivian Acquah and Marjolijn Vlug have kitchen table conversations with DEI professionals, representatives, advocates, and allies. Their personal stories tell you that you are not alone in your endeavors to create a more inclusive world. Let’s share perspectives on what sustains us in creating lasting change in different parts of the world.