Shola Kaye

Communication Specialist
Shola Kaye
  • Empathy, DEI, and communication speaker and facilitator; author and award-winning speaker
  • Expert at creating psychologically safe, highly engaging, interactive experiences
  • Former professional entertainer, culturally sensitive, creator of the Inclusion Launchpad program

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Shola Kaye helps global organisations create a People-First Culture, preparing for the future of work using the power of empathy, effective communication and inclusive leadership skills. Shola’s work is frequently described as engagingly practical, easily implementable and inspiring. She shares moving stories, accessible case studies and actionable insights gained from working with international corporations across a wide range of industries, and sessions may be modified for leaders or for broader audiences.

Shola’s clients include American Express, Deloitte, Google, IBM, Nestle, Meta, Target, The United Nations, Kaiser Permanente, GSK, Henkel, Reckitt, HSBC, LVMH, Capital One and Oracle. She is the author of two books and has written for a variety of industry publications. 

Shola’s experiences as a Black female introvert, working for global corporations, have given her an understanding of some of the many challenges faced by companies today as they seek to create environments of empathy and belonging, supporting their ever-more diverse, often remote, teams. Her work allows organisations to increase innovation, bolster belonging and develop engaging, productive environments.

Early in Shola’s career, after studying at Cambridge University,  she worked in consulting and account management in New York and London with clients such as Goldman Sachs and British Airways. She has also conducted neuroscience research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

What differentiates Shola as a speaker is that she has also spent time performing across the globe and captivating audiences as a professional entertainer. She therefore understands what it takes to keep her keynote attendees engaged and participating throughout the session, and she provides multiple opportunities for valuable self-reflection and outstanding levels of interaction.

At the moment her most popular keynote is on Elevating Empathy. In today’s challenging workplaces it’s crucial to meet people where they are, demonstrating curiosity and understanding. An empathic approach is also valuable when it comes to helping reduce resistance to change, such as restructuring, entering new markets or embarking upon new initiatives. 

Shola also works with global teams that need to find ways to reduce bias and reach across cultural differences, creating an atmosphere of collaboration, inclusion and high performance. Her session ‘Inclusive Communication and Psychological Safety’ has been booked by a variety of international organisations, whether for leadership or wider groups and, as a skilled facilitator, she’s often called upon to run sessions that are a hybrid between conventional keynotes, town halls, and large group workshops. 

As an introvert herself, she loves to create experiences in which everyone feels deeply involved and empowered to participate fully. Her virtual keynotes often elicit hundreds of comments in the chat, with off-the-chart participation from attendees. 

She’s also a popular speaker for International Women’s Day and has worked with many organisations delivering communication programs that help women and other groups speak up and cut through the noise, enabling them to go further, faster, in their careers.

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Speaker Video

Shola Kaye Speaking Reel - Empathy & Inclusive Leadership

Why We need More Empathy in the Workplace | Shola Kaye | TEDxPeckham

Shola Kaye: The Benefits of Leading with Empathy

Shola Kaye: Emotional Intelligence for Leaders

Shola Kaye: Psychological Safety and Intersectionality Keynote

Shola Kaye - At Women in Data 2019 - Speak up on the spot

Elevating Empathy: To increase inclusion and engagement. Creating a workplace where everyone feels that they belong is more important than ever before, but how can you build supportive, cohesive environments within your organisation? This is a high-impact, inspiring keynote that offers the tools and the inspiration to become a more compassionate and effective leader, manager, or individual contributor. It may be modified for senior leaders, management, and whole-company keynotes. We’ll look at the important themes of curiosity, courage and being a catalyst and you’ll understand the vital components of empathy, how to be compassionate while avoiding burnout, and why skills like emotional intelligence are in high demand.

What will the audience learn?

  • Explore the value of active listening and reasons why we may be reluctant to practice curiosity and courage
  • Understand the different types of empathy
  • Find out what impact empathy and listening have on diversity, inclusion, engagement, retention, innovation, and happiness at work
  • Discuss how we might practice empathy in the virtual workplace
  • Spend time reflecting on our own levels of empathy and potential areas for self-improvement
  • Walk away with a simple three-step framework for being empathetic in nearly every situation

Embracing Psychological Safety and Inclusive Communication. Are you wondering why there has been so much interest in the topic of psychological safety? During this interactive keynote, we explore the vital role of psychological safety in fostering an inclusive environment that values open, authentic communication. We’ll discuss the importance of embracing vulnerability, trust, and empathy in your daily interactions, enabling your team to unlock its full potential through collaborative ways of working.

What will the audience learn?

  • Understand the key elements of psychological safety and their impact on team performance
  • Explore the relationship between psychological safety and emotional intelligence
  • Discover strategies to create a culture of inclusive communication that values and supports diverse perspectives
  • Recognise the role of empathetic leadership in fostering psychological safety
  • Learn practical techniques for building trust and promoting vulnerability within teams
  • Understand that cultural factors also play a role in the creation of psychologically safe environments

Inclusive Leadership: Strategies & Skills. Equip your leaders with the skills and knowledge to combat bias and foster belonging. Today's leaders need an expanded repertoire of skills and know-how to ensure staff are engaged, happy and productive. In this highly impactful program, leaders are given the skill set to flourish in today’s complex work environments, managing ever more diverse and demanding teams.

What will the audience learn?

  • Explore the 6 key traits of an inclusive leader and their related behaviours
  • Review key data that support the value of compassionate leadership skills in today's work environments
  • Discover what it takes to create an environment of psychological safety
  • Explore inclusive communication best practices to ensure everyone feels encouraged to speak up and make a contribution
  • Discuss a number of behavioural nudges that help us bypass bias and create an atmosphere of innovation and belonging
  • Review important cultural factors that all managers must consider when they lead diverse, multigenerational, international or intercultural teams

Creating a Speak Up Culture: Empower, Encourage, Evolve. Give your leaders and their teams the inspiration, know-how and tools to create a culture of openness and collaboration. During this high-energy, interactive keynote we explore the power of transparency, psychological safety and positive reinforcement to create a culture where everyone feels equipped, encouraged and able to share their views and ideas. The result of a speak up culture? A high performing, innovative, respectful workplace in which people can be who they are and express themselves without fear of retribution, rejection or ridicule.

What will the audience learn?

  • Look at some models and strategies that support a speak up culture
  • Review what happens when it’s not safe to express ourselves authentically, resulting in behaviours such as covering, groupthink and code-switching
  • Navigate ways to create team safety and an environment of collaboration so that colleagues feel comfortable sharing their views
  • Explore cultural factors that influence the way in which communication is delivered and received
  • Discover tools and communication frameworks that help everyone express themselves respectfully, regardless of personality type and cultural identity
  • Look at the role of encouragement and support when inviting people to open up

Unlock High Performance by Delivering Effective Feedback. Develop the skills to support and co-create your colleagues’ success (Session is suitable for all employees, not just managers). At work and in our personal lives, delivering effective feedback is a valuable skill. Delivered in the right way, feedback can be empowering, inspiring and can drive an individual, and their team, towards fantastic success. However, delivered in the wrong way, feedback can be divisive, demotivating, and destructive. And when we avoid giving feedback to spare someone’s feelings, the eventual outcome can be just as damaging.

So what’s your intention as a manager? Is it to break or build? To crush or to co-create? Do you restrict your feedback to the obligatory once or twice a year, or do you feedback continuously, increasing the motivation and confidence of your team members?

What will the audience learn?

  • Understand the importance of providing ongoing, tailored, empathetic developmental feedback
  • Explore the repercussions of poor feedback styles such as The Drive-by, The Comparison, The Public Humiliation, and The Wrecking Ball
  • Discover the four elements required to create psychological safety so that your feedback is well-received
  • Take away an effective strategy for delivering feedback as an individual contributor
  • Learn three different feedback frameworks and the pros and cons of each keynote or workshop

Working With Resistance. Walk away with the tools and perspectives needed to navigate and transform resistance into a constructive force for organisational progress. This dynamic and insightful keynote adopts an international perspective, and is designed for DEI, HR, and Talent Management professionals, and groups grappling with resistance in organisational change efforts. The session offers a blend of academic research, real-world case studies, and cultural insights. We explore the various forms of resistance encountered in organisations, understand the best strategies to counteract them, and learn how to foster an environment conducive to open communication and inclusive change.

What will the audience learn?

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the three main types of resistance encountered in DEI initiatives, informed by current research
  • Learn effective strategies to counter each type of resistance, drawing from a variety of real-life case studies
  • Explore some cultural factors that can make us reluctant to push for change, and discover how to empower individuals to take action in ways that align with their personal and cultural backgrounds
  • Learn how to apply practical communication tools and approaches that will help you immediately foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment

Participants will leave feeling reinvigorated, inspired, and equipped with empowering frameworks and proven approaches for working with resistance.

Three Steps to Inclusion & Allyship. Practical inspiration, helping you create a culture of belonging. This empowering keynote delivers practical frameworks and moving stories. You’ll walk away with the understanding that everyone can be an ally, whatever your situation. We’ll explore the importance of taking action - however limited - rather than feeling that you don’t have the power to make a difference. Discover a source of renewed vitality and enthusiasm for the important work of creating an inclusive workplace.

What will the audience learn?

  • Explore the power of curiosity and calling-in
  • Understand the importance of being an ally and calling out bias
  • Navigate the 7 dimensions of allyship and understand the various roles needed to create a sustainable DEI movement
  • Uncover the value of compassion for the self, and for others.
  • We can’t pour from an empty cup; discover why and how to cultivate a ‘gain’ mindset, instead of living in the ‘gap’
  • Learn strategies for replenishing your energy and avoiding burnout, especially when you’re hyper empathetic

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