We talk to Shola Kaye, diversity speaker.

23rd Jun 2023

Shola Kaye, diversity speaker chats with Jane Farnham, Director of Great British Speakers.

We talk to Shola Kaye to find out about her journey from timid office worker to author and award-winning diversity speaker.

Shola Kaye, an esteemed diversity speaker, is an expert in communication, inclusive leadership, and fostering empathy in the workplace. With a deep commitment to creating happy, engaged, and productive workplaces, she empowers organizations to cultivate a sense of belonging for their employees.

Shola is driven by her passion to equip individuals with the skills and opportunities to communicate with power and clarity. By enabling individuals to confidently share their unique talents and perspectives, remarkable transformations occur:

  1. People are transformed into leaders.
  2. Teams and groups perform better.
  3. Everyone gains.

Shola’s expertise has been featured in various industry journals, and she serves as an instructor for LinkedIn Learning. Her diverse client base includes renowned organizations such as the United Nations and Deloitte.

As a diversity and inclusion speaker, Shola shares personal anecdotes and delivers essential insights on gender and race equality. She fearlessly addresses behaviours that hinder progress towards a more inclusive society.

Contact Great British Speakers today to book diversity speaker Shola Kaye for your next event.

Here’s the full transcript of diversity speaker Shola Kaye‘s chat with Jane Farnham of Great British Speakers:

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00:00:08:18 – 00:00:18:12
Jane Farnham
Hi, I’m Jane Farnham at Great British Speakers. And I’m here today chatting to the motivational and inspiring diversity speaker Shola Kaye. Hi, Shola. It’s so great to catch up with you. Thanks for joining us today.

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00:00:18:48 – 00:00:20:33

Shola Kaye

Thanks a lot, Jane. Really good to be here.

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00:00:20:48 – 00:00:30:41
Jane Farnham
So if I said, you are probably the one speaker we have with the widest range of life experiences, We know it would be a total understatement. So tell us a little bit about your life pre speaking.

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00:00:32:15 – 00:00:58:12

Shola Kaye

Yes, Jane. Well, I started out as working in the tech world as a consultant, and I was a very quiet person, quite timid, bit of an introvert. And so early on, basically, I realized that kind of I was I needed to speak up more. I needed to find my voice. And so that came out in a couple of roles where, in one role I was told, you need to just shape up quickly, otherwise you’re out and managed to turn that around.

00:00:58:26 – 00:01:24:19

Shola Kaye

Another one, I was there for six months and literally at the end of six months they said, Shola, sorry, you’re too quiet, we need you to leave. And I then realized at that point that there wasn’t much empathy in both of those workplaces. So later on came back to speak about it. But then after that, I ended up fulfilling a childhood dream, became I became a professional singer for a few years and sang internationally, which was brilliant.

00:01:24:43 – 00:01:42:43

Shola Kaye

But then just kind of kept getting tugged back into wanting to inspire and motivate people to speak about communication and also, you know, speak about my experiences that I’d had in the workplace, which is where, you know, sort of come full circle now and back doing that as a, as a living as a full time speaker.

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00:01:43:24 – 00:01:45:10
Jane Farnham
So how did the speaking start?

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00:01:46:49 – 00:02:20:06

Shola Kaye

Well, I just had this urge to want to tell my story. I did a lot of training on communication as well. So I was going into organizations, specifically working with women quite frequently who needed to speak up more in their roles. And so from there, I just, I kind of got tugged into being more of a keynoter and keynoting whether it was at women’s events, diversity and inclusion, leadership, mainly talking about empathy, communication skills and inclusive leadership and as well as diversity, equity and inclusion.

00:02:20:22 – 00:02:31:08

Shola Kaye

So it just kind of, that it was interesting because I just kind of kept getting tugged into it and I really love speaking. It’s just such a wonderful opportunity to, to change lives and make an impact.

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00:02:32:04 – 00:02:45:34
Jane Farnham
So you’ve given your background, which is quite diverse. You’ve already mentioned some of the hot topics, the speaker topics that we get asked for. So tell us a little bit about the main ones that you discuss and how you can bring them all in.

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.00:02:46:14 – 00:03:12:23

Shola Kaye

Oh, well, the main topic I’m speaking on at the moment is empathy in the workplace. And empathy is such an important topic right now. And every single day I’ve got a Google alert and there’s something in Fast Company and Harvard Business Review and all these sort of magazines. Forbes, talking about how empathy is the new superpower and the reason it’s so important is because it touches on leadership, touches on diversity, equity and inclusion.

00:03:12:23 – 00:03:42:05

Shola Kaye

Because if managers and cultures are more empathetic, people feel more included and more of a sense of belonging and more engagement. It’s also important as I say in leadership because often it comes from the top down having this culture of empathy. And so part of that is also inclusive leadership, which is another hot topic right now. Again, a lot of organizations coming to me saying, well, we understand that the modern workplace is different than it used to be, and top down leadership is not working anymore.

00:03:42:19 – 00:04:08:42

Shola Kaye

People have been through so much over the last couple of years that they need leaders who understand and who they want to follow because that leader is is is charismatic, That leader is caring. That leader is understanding rather than that leader’s my boss and I have to say, do what they say. So there’s a lot of organizational change around what is a modern leader. How do we inspire our leaders to be different?

00:04:08:56 – 00:04:17:49

Shola Kaye

So empathy comes into that. Also, other skills like being a leader coach, learning agility, and these are all topics that I touch on in particular keynotes.

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00:04:18:59 – 00:04:38:33
Jane Farnham
Well yes, it’s very hot right now. So excellent that you’re covering that. Now, one of the most asked for requirements from any booking is usually, for us tangible take away benefits after the main event. So, you know, obviously you give fantastic talks, but what type of mindset change do you like to leave audiences with?

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00:04:39:23 – 00:04:57:01

Shola Kaye

Yeah, that’s a really good question because I think our job as speakers is of course to raise awareness, but then you want people to walk out feeling that they’re going to do things differently or that they’re going to reset a topic, they’re going to change. And one of the things I particularly love to do, I have a sort of scientific background.

00:04:57:02 – 00:05:16:51

Shola Kaye

So my early days spent as a, in chemistry and chemistry is all about having formulas like recipes isn’t it, add this and this and you get that. So one of the things that I love to do in my talks is give people frameworks and little formulas for communication so that they go back with a step by step, well you know, I need to have this empathetic conversation.

00:05:16:51 – 00:05:39:34

Shola Kaye

How do I do that? Oh, yeah, Shola gave me that three step framework. I can apply it. And one of the things that I really love to do, especially with the empathy keynote, is give people a PDF leave behind, which has a kind of high level summary of some of the topics that we talk about in the keynote, and also has the step, step by step sort of formulas written out so people can refer to them.

00:05:39:55 – 00:05:58:46

Shola Kaye

So one of the PDFs is called the 30 day Empathy Plan, and it has this sort of high level summary and it also has a table that people can follow and just tick every day. Did I have that conversation? Why? I was curious, Was I listening today? Who am I planning to communicate with over these 30 days to try and transform our relationships?

00:05:58:46 – 00:06:27:12

Shola Kaye

It’s and I’ve been privileged with some of the organizations where they’ve actually called me back or we’ve had webinars or conversations after the keynote where I’ve actually got to talk to people who have been implementing the 30 day plan and heard first hand from them what a difference in, how transformational it’s been for them in terms of their relationships, the way they think of themselves, how much power they feel that they now have in their relationships to to listen, to be more empathetic.

00:06:27:23 – 00:06:32:43

Shola Kaye

So I’m really privileged to kind of get to come back sometimes and hear those stories from people.

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00:06:33:36 – 00:06:44:31
Jane Farnham
Oh, that’s lovely. Now, is there an actual example that you can give where you’ve spoken and the organization has implemented your concepts and it’s leveraged real change, but, you know, a real life working example?

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00:06:45:07 – 00:07:03:59

Shola Kaye

Yes. Well, one of the organizations that I did a keynote for in the States last year, we actually put into place this 30 day empathy plan. And then as a result of that, because they were changing one of theirm their corporate values for I don’t know what it was from, but they wanted to have empathy as a value.

00:07:03:59 – 00:07:39:34

Shola Kaye

So I came in as a keynoter to kind of celebrate this changing of the corporate value. And so then they wanted to implement this 30 day employee plan, which they did with managers and their teams. And so they came back to me probably a couple of months later. And they, they said that they had surveyed their, their population, employee population and they had sort of overwhelmingly said that they felt that they were able to live and breathe empathy as a, a skill and as a value as a result of this 30 day plan and hearing the keynote.

00:07:39:34 – 00:07:41:45

Shola Kaye

So that was really gratifying to hear.

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00:07:42:16 – 00:07:48:16
Jane Farnham
Yeah. Excellent. Real takeaways. So tell me finally, what gives you the most buzz Shola about speaking?

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00:07:49:30 – 00:08:05:54

Shola Kaye

You know what, it’s, it’s the ability to make a change in people’s lives. And one of the things that I always do because in a keynote, of course, it’s mainly me talking to them and I tend to be very interactive. So, if it’s online, I’ll get people to put in the chat so I can hear their opinions as well during the keynote.

00:08:06:18 – 00:08:23:07

Shola Kaye

But I typically ask people to reach out to me and connect with me on LinkedIn, and that’s where I really hear the stories of the impact. So people have said that not only in the workplace have they had results, but they will have a, one guy said, Oh, I can’t wait to get home tonight. My wife and I need to have a chat.

00:08:23:07 – 00:08:45:55

Shola Kaye

Our relationship has been a bit rocky, but with these frameworks you just shared with me, I’m really feeling buoyed up and courageous enough to have this conversation. So when I hear that sort of thing or a mother saying that they talked to their teenage son and because they were empathetic, things just completely shifted. Those are the impacts for me that just make me think, Oh, look, I’m so happy to be a speaker.

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00:08:45:55 – 00:09:09:03
Jane Farnham
And a great diversity speaker you are, too. I know we’ve had a couple of engagements this year and both of our clients have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response from your talks. So it’s been a real pleasure chatting to you today. Thank you so much. And if you’d like to book Shola to make a difference to your business and your events, then simply contact me or  Steve at Great British Speakers on 01753439289  or you can email bookings at  bookings@greatbritishtalent.com

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00:09:16:58 – 00:09:17:58

Shola Kaye

Thanks very much Jane.

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Shola Kaye, diversity speaker at Great British Speakers

Shola Kaye, diversity speaker at Great British Speakers

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