Leyla Okhai, CEO, Diverse Minds UK

Leyla Okhai is the founder and CEO of Diverse Minds. Enabling organisations to create mentally healthy and equal workplaces through coaching, training, speaking and consultancy. With a focus on practical mental health strategies, cultural awareness and race equality to facilitate a positively productive workplace.

Leyla’s current clients include University of Sheffield, ASOS, Science Museum Group, JKR Global, Mother London, University of London and UCL. She was appointed to the Council of the University of Leeds in November 2018. In January 2021 her podcast, the Diverse Minds Podcast won best Diversity and Inclusion Podcast in the Podcasting for Business Awards. In 2019 Diverse Minds was the winner of The Woman Who Award (Services Category) and The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Diversity and Inclusion Business of the Year.

From July 2012-April 2017, Leyla was the Head of Centre for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre at Imperial College London. She was in charge of overall strategy and managing a team of staff working on various projects and initiatives. The work she led there was shortlisted for the Race for Opportunity 2014 award in Race Equality: Transparency, Monitoring and Action category.

Leyla has over eighteen years’ experience in developing and implementing diversity, inclusion and equality practices, primarily by working closely with senior leadership teams. She has been responsible for embedding culture change – and not just at Imperial. Before joining the College, Leyla worked at the University of Oxford for over six years, firstly in student recruitment, specialising in increasing applications from underrepresented Global Majority young people. She went on to pioneer innovative race and religious belief equality initiatives at Oxford’s Equality and Diversity Unit from 2008-2012. She was the University’s first specific advisor for race and religion.    

Leyla is a University of Leeds alumna, graduating in 2003 with a BSc Hons in Food Sciences. She was the Welfare Officer at Leeds University Union 2003-2004 and was appointed to the University of Leeds Council in 2018.