Diversity in Leadership: Become the success story you are today

British Muslim TV

This blog is part of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce’s (ABCC) Diversity in Leadership campaign.

The Diversity in Leadership campaign works with some of the regions’ biggest employers in order to boost the numbers of women and those from black and minority ethnic (BAME), lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and disability groups being represented on boards of directors and in leadership roles.

Click here to find out more about the campaign. 

Born and raised in Sandwell, one of Britain's most economically deprived boroughs, blind from birth and belonging to a humble working-class family, the odds of success were certainly stacked against me, my dreams and aspirations in life I felt to be beyond my limited means.

My childhood was spent listening to radio, admiring the eloquent adumbration of issues close to my heart from a painful distance believing that the likes of me would never have my turn behind the mike.

Even now, it brings me great pain recalling the amount of times I heard: "you're blind, you're Muslim, you're Asian and only 11 years of age, an idiot to fancy yourself as a radio reporter."

After such crushing putdowns to my self-esteem, I was compelled to make a choice that has defined my life ever since.

Do I accept society's perception of me as a blind BAME incapable person and force myself to a life of confinement becoming a prisoner in my own home, or do I plough on despite their offensive affirmations of my disability?

Now I'm guessing and If I wasn't a practising Muslim I would bet good money on it, much like in a film when you shout at the Hero to beware of the baddy, you are probably shouting at your screen saying: "well obviously you choose to plough on and ignore narrow minded people!" but easy as said than done folks.

Frankly, in absolute honesty, I was too weak a person to fight this battle alone.

What changed my life's downward trajectory was a blessing from The Most High, among the nay sayers, doubters and blatant negative people, I found a few gems I treasure to this day who overlooked my weaknesses, empowered me at the highest level and believed with full conviction in my ability to improve my life and the lives of those around me.

I am eternally indebted to Adeem Younis, Penny Appeal's Chairman, for allowing me to be one of the Founders of an organisation that has revolutionised charitable giving helping millions out of poverty across the globe, the Birmingham-based local politicians who took out time to come on my shows before anyone else bothered and of course my loving family and friends who have been my ever-present rock to lean on in times of adversity.

To all the employers reading this, we all have strengths and weaknesses, some are defined disabilities, and others are not.

However, remember, to allow you to become the success story you are today, some amazing gem overlooked your weaknesses, I only ask you kindly return the favour when an applicant with a disability knocks on your door asking you to give them a chance.

To all of those people with disabilities struggling with their own battles, like I eventually did, you will find those broad shoulders of inspirational mentors to lean on and if you find none are forthcoming, you will find the author of this humble article Yours Truly is forever at your service as I truly live to serve and love to serve in any way I can.

Ahmad Bostan is an award-winning broadcast journalist currently Political Editor of British Muslim TV, a Founding Member of Penny Appeal Britain's fastest growing charity, Vice-Chairman of Sandwell Visually Impaired and the West Midlands representative on the National Counter-terrorism Advisory Board at New Scotland Yard.