Explainer-in-chief, traveller, and story-teller!
Ben Acquaye is the Chair of the School of Business at Lakeland College. This is his second term as Chair. His school boasts a diverse faculty and students who come from all corners of the world. Ben is originally from Ghana and read Economics and Geography in his undergraduate and postgraduate studies. He has lived and worked in many countries on 3 continents, so far. Ben Acquaye is a thinker and a passionate speaker. He uses stories and paints vivid pictures from his experiences to engage audiences. He speaks on the topic the Business of Diversity and Workplace Culture. His researched presentations on many business topics offer the scope and depth that enriches audience’s experiences.
Ben Acquaye is an award-winning member of Toastmasters International. He has awards in humorous speeches and wins in the international speech contest too. He has spoken to many audiences. In the last year, he has spoken to entrepreneurs in Lloydminster, Parishioners of the Anglican Church and members of the general public in Edmonton, and addressed teachers in Mwanza, Tanzania. Ben Acquaye offers frank, honest and tactful advice to employers, employees, and others on matters relating to race, diversity and culture. He punctuates his presentations with plenty of self-deprecating anecdotes. He volunteers as a public speaking coach and mentor to high school students.
Diversity within Businesses help make organisations and communities more competitive and stronger. Barbara Warmath inviting her one-legged black friend Bonnie St. John is the reason why the US won multiple medals in the 1984 Winter Paralympic Games. Group-thinking and narrow-mindedness are among the list of awful buzzwords that MBA schools have stopped using. Banning their use alone doesn’t promote diversity. It takes a conscious effort to promote diversity. It’s a hard task with significant benefits at the end. One of the key lessons in a Post COVID-19 world is the benefit of diversity. The research is clear: interacting with people from varied backgrounds promotes better outcomes.
The first time I was asked to move forward during a photoshoot with employees, I didn’t quite understand why. Later, I learned why that happened and was disappointed. The business wanted to show it had minority employees and therefore I had to be positioned appropriately to show that image. This is often a subject of conversation within the minority community. What happened to me is an example of misplaced intentionality. You know, it’s actually easy to do this without being offensive. What you do is to recruit employees so they reflect the diversity of your customers. When you have done, that photoshoot day will be a breeze, literally.
Growing up in Ghana, Africa, my view of dogs was that they were to be feared. After being chased by a small pack, in a fruit-picking escapade-gone-wrong, that fear was seared into my memory – all dogs are ruthless, stay away. Can you imagine how long it took me to change this perception when I started working in the UK and visited friends who had dogs? Can you imagine the process of unlearning something that you credit for saving your life, numerous times? I know firsthand what it means to judge someone by the content of their character. It’s natural to have instincts and perceptions. It takes learning for one to pause passing judgment so you can give someone a chance to display their character.