We talk to Winston Ben Clements, inclusivity, diversity and equality speaker.

22nd Jun 2023

Winston Ben Clements, mindfulness and wellness expert and breathwork speaker chats with Jane Farnham, Director of Great British Speakers.

We learn from equality speaker Winston Ben Clements about his passion for supporting the world’s leading organisations to deliver cultural change that is truly inclusive.

Is your organization hindered by internal obstacles that impede its performance? It’s time to address the finger-pointing and excuses that have become all too common within your teams. Are you ready to transform the mindsets of your people and cultivate a culture of resilience, high performance, and inclusion?

Meet Winston Ben Clements, a highly sought-after equality speaker and diversity and inclusion consultant. Winston specializes in anti-racism, disability awareness, and unconscious bias, and he is deeply passionate about empowering the world’s leading organizations to achieve true cultural change that embraces inclusivity.

Winston’s vision extends beyond mere lip service to diversity and inclusion. He envisions a world that is genuinely inclusive for all individuals, regardless of their circumstances. His ultimate mission is to inspire and unleash the full potential of 1 billion people.

Join forces with Winston, the dedicated equality speaker, and embark on a transformative journey toward a more inclusive future. Contact us today to secure his services and ignite cultural change within your organization.

Contact Great British Speakers today to book equality, diversity and inclusion speaker Winston Ben Clements for your next event.

Here’s the full transcript of equality in the workplace speaker Winston Ben Clements’ chat with Jane Farnham of Great British Speakers:

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00:00:08:31 – 00:00:17:27
Jane Farnham
Hi, I’m Jane Farnham with Great British Speakers. And I’m here today chatting to the extraordinary equality speaker Winston Ben Clements. Winston, Good morning. Thanks for joining us today.

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00:00:18:00 – 00:00:19:04

Winston Ben Clements

Thank you for having me Jane.

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00:00:19:36 – 00:00:39:57
Jane Farnham
Oh, you’re welcome. So lovely to see your smiley face. Now as a quick introduction. Winston was predicted to live a life of isolation and pain. That’s all down to a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and caused his bones to be extremely fragile. I understand it, Winston. You fractured more than 150 bones by the time you were 12.
That’s crazy. But despite your small stature, just three feet tall and the use of a wheelchair, Winston has taken a stand for a quality of life that knows no excuses and no limits. So first of all, Winston, tell me a little bit about your earlier life and your background.

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00:00:59:07 – 00:01:25:28

Winston Ben Clements

Yeah, sure. So I guess the the big part of my early life was colored by all of the fractures that I used to have. And I think because of the condition, what it does is it affects both the strength of my bones as well as how they develop. So the strength meant that, you know, for me it wasn’t so straightforward playing with the other kids in the playground, for example, because they could fall over and be fine.

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00:01:25:28 – 00:01:50:45

Winston Ben Clements

But if I fell over, I’d probably have a fracture or a broken bone. So that was one thing. And then the other side of it was the growth of my bones was also affected. So, which meant I was always like the smallest kid in my class and now probably the smallest adult in most rooms. So there are a couple of things that I had to sort of figure out because I tended to stand out in most places that I went to.

00:01:51:18 – 00:02:23:36

Winston Ben Clements

But I think one thing that really helped me is, you know, just having, always having a support network, which looked different at different stages. So initially it was my, my family. And then, you know, I developed a group of friends and then later on I had colleagues at work that were really supportive and, and mentors and coaches and so that’s always been a really good foundation for me to gain confidence, gain, you know, the ability to believe that I can achieve as much of the next person.

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00:02:25:08 – 00:02:35:29
Jane Farnham
Okay. So you obviously do motivational speaking now, but you said that work colleagues, what were you doing work wise when, you know, before the speaking kicked off?

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00:02:36:01 – 00:02:59:18

Winston Ben Clements

Yes. Motivational speaking or speaking really is kind of like a new career for me in the last four years. So before that, I was well I studied computer science at university. So I guess growing up I was a bit of a classical gamer and then into like a bit of a computer geek. And so for me, computer science was like a natural path to go down.

00:02:59:42 – 00:03:28:48

Winston Ben Clements

And then after completing my degree in computer science, I was thinking, okay, what do I do with this? Well, I know how to program. And it seems like that’s quite an in demand role at the time. And so I ended up working for various companies in the tech space and financial services basically being a programmer, a software developer, working on a lot of cool projects and really enjoying it because I didn’t have to, you know, to speak to people.

00:03:28:48 – 00:03:31:46

Winston Ben Clements

I could just be at my laptop writing code. 

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00:03:32:52 – 00:03:43:15

Jane Farnham

So tell me, how did that then turn into a motivational speaking career? I mean, you said it was four years ago. Talk to me about how that happened, how that came about.

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00:03:43:40 – 00:04:12:28

Winston Ben Clements

Yeah. So I was in the tech career, the programming career for about eight, nine years. It was quite a long stint after graduating. And then I think I got to a point in my career progression where I started to notice that I was getting the same feedback in in my appraisals, which was, Hey, you’re a great like technical person and a really good programmer, but to go to that next level, you now need to be more client facing.

00:04:12:50 – 00:04:32:45

Winston Ben Clements

You need to have that confidence to speak to people, to lead meetings. And basically one of the things that I hated doing at the time and so I thought, okay, so how can that improve my confidence and try and step up a little bit more? And so that’s when I signed up to something that you might know about called Toastmasters.

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00:04:33:15 – 00:04:35:55
Jane Farnham
Yeah, Yeah. I’ve been to a couple of those meetings.

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00:04:36:19 – 00:04:55:04

Winston Ben Clements

Yes. So Toastmasters is like a public speaking, I guess, training, where you know, it’s a small group of people and you get to practice short speeches. And for me that was really helpful to build up my confidence. And at the time when I was doing it, I wasn’t thinking, you know, one day I’m going to go and do a TED talk or become a speaker.

00:04:55:22 – 00:05:10:15

Winston Ben Clements

I was just thinking, okay, if I can do this and get used to talking to ten, 15 people, and, you know, not falling apart on the stage, then I can maybe bring some of that confidence to work and get better appraisals going forward, if that makes sense.

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00:05:11:07 – 00:05:30:18
Jane Farnham
Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, I met a lot of people at Toastmasters who went for exactly the same reasons as you. You know, they were told that they needed to start being a little bit more confident. And obviously it’s a natural progression, but that doesn’t always mean that you become a brilliant motivational speaker Winston, so don’t underplay it at all.
So how then did you get on the corporate circuit? Because it’s a big leap from talking at a local group level to big corporations that you do now.

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00:05:41:49 – 00:06:12:48

Winston Ben Clements

Yeah. So again, there was a bit of like a fortunate coincidence that happened when I was at Toastmasters. I, I had the opportunity to be mentored by one of the more experienced Toastmasters in the group that I was a part of. And, you know, as he was mentoring me, one of the things that came up in conversation was, Hey, have you ever tried to apply for a TED Talk, which I thought was insane at the time, because I’d only been speaking.

00:06:12:48 – 00:06:32:49

Winston Ben Clements

I’ve only been at Toastmasters for a few months or something, and I was not doing it to get on big stages. I was doing it to try to have more progression in my career in IT. And so I was like, Nope. And, you know, not interested. You know, that’s not for me. That’s for other people who are really confident about speaking.

00:06:33:27 – 00:06:52:06

Winston Ben Clements

But then it kind of became like an ongoing thing. So every time I’d meet up or I’d have a call with my mentor, he’d bring up the TED talk again, and he kept doing it a few times. And then eventually he even sent me a link to apply for a TED Talk. And I was like, at this point I was tired of him bringing it up all the time to be honest.

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00:06:52:58 – 00:06:54:16
Jane Farnham
Did you do it just to shut him up?

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00:06:54:37 – 00:07:14:18

Winston Ben Clements

Yeah, yeah. I just clicked on the link and I said, fine I’ll just fill out the form, quite a straightforward form, and I’m going to send it off and you know, Glenn’s going to leave me alone now. Totally. And a result of those situations where you apply for something, but you’re kind of rooting against yourself and you hope that you don’t get it.

00:07:14:43 – 00:07:47:40

Winston Ben Clements

And of course, I got invited to do a TED talk after sending off the application form and then which kind of, I was fortunate that, you know, by sharing my story on the TED stage, that then got a lot of visibility, and when I shared it on LinkedIn, I had a couple of people on my network who worked for other companies say, Hey, Winston, do you mind coming over and sharing what you shared at TED with our staff meeting or our end of year, you know, meeting or whatever?

00:07:48:00 – 00:07:54:03

Winston Ben Clements

And literally, just like that, my, my accidental speaking career kind of started to take shape.

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00:07:54:34 – 00:07:58:51
Jane Farnham
Okay. So what were you talking about, at TED? Was that talking about your journey?

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00:07:59:27 – 00:08:29:04

Winston Ben Clements

Yeah. So initially and I’ve got two TED talks now, but my first one I basically just shared a bit of a story, a personal story, shared, you know, some of my experiences growing up with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Sharing, you know, how, how that impacted me in various ways, but also which I think is more important, sharing some of the lessons that I think are really transferable to anyone who has faced adversity, which is probably everyone at some point.

00:08:29:27 – 00:08:37:32

Winston Ben Clements

And that seemed to go down really well because I think there’s a lot of transferable, you know, helpful lessons hopefully for people to take away from my own story.

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00:08:37:58 – 00:08:57:43
Jane Farnham
Yeah, it’s one of the big key sort of requests at the moment, particularly in light of the last two years, you know, talking about adversity and how we motivate ourselves and how we, we get back up and, you know, and not get too down. Another big topic at the moment that we’re seeing at Great British Speakers is, of course, diversity and inclusion.
Now you’ve become a bit of a flagbearer for inclusion in the workplace, haven’t you?

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00:09:02:56 – 00:09:25:57

Winston Ben Clements

Yes, and I think that kind of developed again a little bit organically. So actually when I was working for organizations in my tech career previously, one of the, I guess extra, I was going to say extra curricular but it’s not school, but the extra things that I did outside of work, outside of my day job was to be part of these diversity and inclusion.

00:09:26:27 – 00:09:50:15

Winston Ben Clements

I think they call them affinity groups. And so I used to enjoy going to those meetings. I was part of the disability, the disability group at my organization and also part of the Afro-Caribbean group at the same organization. And for me, I just thought that I just saw in diversity and inclusion really fascinating because, and I’ve also got an immigrant background.

00:09:50:15 – 00:10:12:48

Winston Ben Clements

So I moved to the UK when I was ten years old. And so for me, when I first came over, I couldn’t imagine myself even working for a big corporate in IT. So you have those opportunities to connect with other people with a similar background, whether from the disability side or from a, you know, a heritage side of things.

00:10:13:08 – 00:10:37:40

Winston Ben Clements

For me, that was really fascinating. And so when I got invited to do my second TED talk, they wanted me to talk about my experience with, you know, my my background as an immigrant and also tying in some of some of the stories around disability and talk about how organizations can be more inclusive to people from all of these different backgrounds because it’s just the world that we live in at the moment.

00:10:37:40 – 00:10:56:20

Winston Ben Clements

And again, you know, that TED talk did really well and I started to get a lot of requests. And actually that’s probably the bigger part of my work nowadays is talking about diversity and inclusion and linking it back to how organizations can create safe spaces where people from any background can feel valued and appreciated.

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00:10:57:32 – 00:11:03:07
Jane Farnham
Well, there’s clearly more work for us to do in that arena, but are you an optimist? Are things getting better? Are we getting better?

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00:11:04:30 – 00:11:25:48

Winston Ben Clements

I think we have more knowledge than ever before, and we have access to more knowledge than ever before. So, you know, diversity and inclusion, it’s not like a, a thing that only a few organizations of maybe the ones with the big budget were doing sort of five, ten years ago. But I think now it’s at the center of most organizational strategy.

00:11:26:13 – 00:11:39:36

Winston Ben Clements

I think where there’s still a bit of a gap for me is how we turn that awareness into, into action. And as we, you know, stop talking about things and start implementing things that create just.

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00:11:39:36 – 00:11:46:53
Jane Farnham
That, say that stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. You know, you’ve got to implement action rather than just talk and nod to it.

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00:11:46:55 – 00:12:11:11

Winston Ben Clements

For me, that’s why that’s still a bit of a gap and there’s a lot that we can do. And, you know, within hiring and a lot we can do within onboarding and it’s just so many areas that where, you know, and leadership can also play their part as well, in creating a space where actually people don’t just want to join the company, they want to stay as well, because that’s that’s one of the biggest thing that I found during my eight-9-10 year career.

00:12:11:49 – 00:12:37:49

Winston Ben Clements

Eight, nine, ten year career was that every couple of years I’d, I’d feel like it had run its course and I’d want to move to a different organization. But when I think back and reflect exactly the fact that the novelty had worn off and because maybe I didn’t have as many role models who look like me or I didn’t feel like that my my experience was as supportive as it could be, that was one of the motivations for me to move on as well.

00:12:37:49 – 00:12:46:22

Winston Ben Clements

So I feel like if I had that in place then I might say that some of these companies for longer stints of time, and that’s what I try to convey in my message.

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00:12:46:48 – 00:12:59:34
Jane Farnham
Yeah, keeping the workforce happy. So have you got any examples where you’ve done a keynote for somebody and then you feel that the organization has really moved forward and implemented the change and had a positive impact?

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00:13:00:50 – 00:13:31:37

Winston Ben Clements

Yes. Yes. I mean, a lot of it is covered in the NDAS nowadays, but we’ve, I’ve done some, I think some of the ones that I found really interesting or really profound. So I did a project for the Professional Cricketers Association and they had me deliver an anti-racism program across professional cricket. Now there’s probably going to be someone listening to this is going to be shouting at the podcast, but I don’t really know anything about cricket.

00:13:31:58 – 00:13:59:36

Winston Ben Clements

So it was anyone. I shared it with my friends who are massive cricket fans. They were like, Oh my God, You spoke about Surrey and you know, all of these other big, big cricket teams and all of these professional players who are really well known, not so well known to me, but for me that was really profound. And I think it’s profound not just because of that, that the I guess the prestige of the organization, but also because it was solving a real problem.

00:13:59:36 – 00:14:19:31

Winston Ben Clements

So there’s been and it’s there in the media, you know, there’s been a lot of challenges, not just within cricket, but within sport in general, around racism and so to be able to contribute and create a space where people can have that conversation openly and understand each other, then for me that felt like a really valuable thing to contribute to.

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00:14:20:34 – 00:14:27:34
Jane Farnham
So obviously now you speak full time, but what gives you the biggest buzz about being an equality speaker?

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00:14:27:34 – 00:14:47:31

Winston Ben Clements

Yeah, I think to be honest, more than the speaking, and you kind of lose this a little bit now with virtual speaking, but for me it’s the conversations that happen before the talk and after the talk of like my bit is sort of my bit, you know, I would have said, you know, until I’m blue in the face. But I now have, I generally know how that’s going to go.

00:14:47:52 – 00:15:12:07

Winston Ben Clements

But it’s the conversations that happen and it’s the almost the spontaneous chats and the spontaneous questions that I get asked when I’m off the stage. And for me that the really valuable and often people might hesitate, you know, if you’re speaking at a big conference, not everyone wants to put their hand up and ask the question during Q&A, but afterwards I like to hang around and, you know, be around for the teas and coffees.

00:15:12:27 – 00:15:34:27

Winston Ben Clements

And that’s where for me, some of the really rich conversations happen. And often what I do nowadays is, you know, when I, when I have sort of a debrief call with an organizer, I’ll share some of the some of those things that came up in those, in those informal conversations. And that has sometimes led to them changing something within the organization.

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00:15:35:34 – 00:15:36:55
Jane Farnham
That’s where the real change can happen.

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00:15:37:04 – 00:15:51:10

Winston Ben Clements

Where maybe people saying that thing was not working for them and, and that got looked at or it might just be an opportunity for us to address another area of diversity and inclusion through training. So those conversations can be really important.

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00:15:51:48 – 00:16:01:03
Jane Farnham
Okay. I’ve got two final questions for you. First one, do you still keep in touch with your mentor at Toastmasters because he must be dead proud of you?

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00:16:01:37 – 00:16:18:42

Winston Ben Clements

We do, we actually share a birthday. That was last month, 18th of Feb. And so we always, we always have this exchange on my birthday, but I definitely need grab him for a coffee or something because it’s been, I haven’t seen him since before the pandemic.

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00:16:18:57 – 00:16:33:32
Jane Farnham
Okay. And then finally, because I’m a little bit nosy, tell me about your media career, Winston. I know that you TV and of course, your baby. So just finally, let’s end on a high and tell me all of the wonderful things going on in your life.

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00:16:33:32 – 00:17:02:58

Winston Ben Clements

Yeah. So I guess one of the, the again, another accidental byproduct of, you know, doing all of this work within the numbers and inclusion is, you know, I’m now married and my wife is also really passionate about the same topic. And so what we decided to do a couple, well a year ago was to start a YouTube channel where we spoke about diversity, inclusion, I guess less from a corporate perspective, but more from a day to day personal perspective.

00:17:02:58 – 00:17:23:45

Winston Ben Clements

And we share, you know, experiences of our, our life as a family who maybe looks a little bit different to the average family and sharing some of the common things that we have to navigate. And we’ve been fortunate that our YouTube channel has kind of grown really, really fast, which has led to opportunities to speak on this topic in the media.

00:17:23:45 – 00:17:45:01

Winston Ben Clements

I also did a interview, well, a lot of interviews. BBC, Today Show Australia, Good Morning America. They’ve all been in touch to, to have this conversation, which for me again is, it’s really, really good to see that even the big outlets and the big, the big names are taking an interest in in this topic. And and you know, the other thing that you mentioned was that we just had a baby.

00:17:45:01 – 00:17:59:00

Winston Ben Clements

So my baby girl is two months old and she’s doing really well. She’s hitting all her milestones and is sleeping more now, which is a massive relief for mum and dad who also love their sleep.

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00:18:00:14 – 00:18:14:09
Jane Farnham
Well, congratulations and long may your success continue. Winston, you’re an inspiration and you thoroughly deserve all the luck in the world and the success in the world. So thank you very much for your time today. It’s been lovely chatting to you.

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00:18:14:38 – 00:18:16:01

Winston Ben Clements

Thank you, Jane. Always a pleasure.

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00:18:17:07 – 00:18:28:24
Jane Farnham
So if you’d like to book equality speaker Winston, then then then simply contact myself or Steve at Great British Speakers on 01753439289 or you can email bookings at  bookings@greatbritishtalent.com

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Winston Ben Clements, equality speaker at Great British Speakers

Winston Ben Clements, equality speaker at Great British Speakers

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