Ben Barry

Ground-Breaking Diversity Advocate | Bestselling Author of Fashioning Reality

Dr. Ben Barry is a trailblazer. The founder of the Ben Barry Agency—the world’s first modeling agency dedicated to representing models of all ages, shapes, races and abilities–Ben is also the Associate Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Founding Director of the Centre for Fashion Diversity & Social Change at Ryerson University. In his passionate talks, Ben uses fashion as a lens to understand people’s experiences with discrimination and to design strategies that foster education, empowerment and inclusion.

Ben has helped the Governments of Quebec, Canada, and the UK develop policies to support body and gender diversity. He regularly writes about his work in leading academic journals and is the author of the forthcoming book, Refashioning Masculinity. His first book was the bestseller Fashioning Reality: A New Generation of Entrepreneurship. International media outlets regularly report on Ben’s research and seek his expert option including The New York Times, The Guardian and The Globe and Mail. Ben has also been a guest on Oprah and CNN.

In recognition of his work, Ben was the first male presented with the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case for advancing the equality of girls and women in Canada, and is also a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Metal. His ground-breaking research on body and gender diversity was honoured as “one of the 50 game-changing research discoveries to come out of Ontario universities over the past 100 years” by Council of Ontario University. He holds a Master’s in Innovation and Strategy and PhD in Management from Judge Business School at Cambridge University.

Advancing Diversity, Starting with You

Whether you want to change a program, organization, or society, Ben discusses how individuals can advance diversity and create an inclusive culture. He tells his story of championing diversity through his work at the Ben Barry Agency Inc., as a university professor and a consult with governments. Ben shares his motivations as well as the challenges he faced and the strategies he used to overcome them. He shatters the myth that people have to wait until they hold positions of power before they can promote diversity in their organizations and communities. Instead, he explains how people can foster diversity right now through individual acts.

Fostering Diversity at Work

Employee often feel bound to wear the grey flannel suit to work. But what happens when organizations invite their staff to freely pick clothes that express themselves? Ben takes his audience into the wardrobes of diverse Canadians who work in a variety of occupations. By sharing their stories, he explores how having the freedom to choose their own clothes at work translates into organizational cultures that fosters gender, LGBTQ and ethnic diversity while improving creativity and retention. Ben provides activities and strategies for how organizations can support employee diversity and create environments that value inclusion by starting with workplace dress codes. This talk is designed for professional associations, organizations and businesses. It can be delivered as a stand-alone lecture or as a participatory workshop.

Celebrating Diversity in Our Everyday Lives

What we decide to wear each morning can be tools to celebrate our diversity and foster inclusive communities. Ben Barry takes his audience into the wardrobes of diverse Canadians. He shares their stories of body-based bullying and mental health issues and the ways in which they have used clothing to re-imagine stereotypes around gender, LGBTQ, and other identities. Through these stories, Ben provides activities and strategies for how his audience can celebrate their differences and create communities that value diversity by starting with how they dress their bodies each day. This talk is designed for youth as well as for organizations that work with young people. It can be delivered as a stand-alone lecture or as a participatory workshop.