Alexandra White tells us that, “When I was younger, I’d often hear the phrase “life isn’t fair”, so I set out on a journey to try and change that. I believe everyone deserves to feel seen, heard and represented in this society that we all contribute to. My company, UNVAELD, empowers professionals through mental health obstacles and diversity and inclusion support. I want to leave the working world in a better state than I found it. The future generations deserve equity, inclusion and equality.”
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
All my life, I have never truly felt like I fit in. My childhood seemed very different to my peers growing up and I would often try to blend in by pretending it was similar. I moved around a lot when I was younger and when we finally settled, it was in a rough area of London where I felt like I had to be tougher than I was. This followed me through my early years and I gradually internalised that being vulnerable equalled being weak. As an adult, I am trying to unlearn this by being more open and sharing some of my stories to help others. Vulnerability isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength that takes great courage and isn’t easy for some of us. I have wasted a lot of years trying to fit in and I’d like to change that now that I am approaching 30 years old.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
After turning down 4 job offers in May 2023 to pursue my dream role, I was devastated to be fired only 2 weeks in. I lost my job after asking for compensation for the additional 60-240 (possibly more) hours the company was requiring me to work unpaid at events. These were hours I was not informed of during the interview process or at any point prior to starting and they were not optional. The situation wasn’t ideal but an idea came to mind because of it. There are hundreds of people who’ve been in a similar situation to me or faced other challenges at work which have negatively impacted them. Where do these people go for emotional support when situations like this happen and who do they speak to about it? I couldn’t think of a professional network where these issues are discussed openly and people are offered free support and advice. It led me to create my own. That is the story behind UNVAELD. Since launching, we’ve evolved to cover all aspects of diversity and inclusion and mental health at work.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
Currently, the richest 10% of households in the UK hold 43% of all wealth and the poorest 50% own only 9%. If I could make one change, it would be to bridge the wealth divide. In my opinion, someone working full-time should be able to afford to pay their rent, bills and afford their groceries comfortably. This is not the current reality in the UK and the cost of living here has caused a mental health crisis for many people.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
Research by Forbes has shown that women leaders score significantly higher than men in a variety of areas, including their ability to connect and relate to others and in authenticity and systems awareness. Yet, women only make up 4.8% of CEOs in the FTSE 250 in the UK. Whilst there has most definitely been progress over the years, there is still a lot more that needs to be done. Most statistics that are published today, relating to gender, fail to take into account other factors that might marginalise someone further, such as their race or if they are disabled. It’s important that we empower all women when it comes to leadership and not just certain groups. Representation is important. I have a positive outlook on the future for women in leadership roles and would urge everyone to keep being advocates in this space.
What’s the most important thing you have learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
It is not rejection, it is redirection. There have been many times that I have taken a rejection as a personal failure, including when I lost my job back in May 2023. If that did not happen, my company would not exist today. Sometimes you think things are not working out for you, when really they are working in your favour. Always trust the process and when you perceive something as a rejection, know that you will likely be better for it, even if it takes a while.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
You have more power than you know. You just need to tap into it. Unlearn any behaviours that have made you feel like you are not good enough or that you do not deserve to live the life of your dreams. Even if it feels scary, be bold and brave enough to do it anyway.