Most people will remember seeing the memorable video clip of Susan Boyle’s audition for Britain’s Got Talent and witnessing the public reaction before she sang. A similar story played out a number of years ago regarding Pamela Uddin.
Pamela Uddin is an entrepreneur who set up the charity Alexia Agency. She was former contestant on the UK’s edition of the Apprentice. She believes that during her time on the Apprentice she was publicly humiliated and isolated because of her stammer, dyslexia and dyspraxia. Pamela said that her response to this led her to setup the charity Alexia Agency working with adults and companies to share skills and experiences to help overcome work challenges.
Pamela explains that, as an entrepreneur, no one really wants to fail. This is particularly the case in the current climate where everything is criticized. Everyone has an opinion but that can lead to a culture of failure fueled by judgment.
Pamela recalls that she was inundated with emails and calls from people as a result of her TV experience in The Apprentice. Off screen she found people coming forward wanting to share their similar stories and experiences and looked to her for advice. The public reaction to Pamela’s appearance on TV was unbelievable and the support she got was incredible. As an entrepreneur she saw this as an opportunity, which is why she set up Alexia Agency. From her point of view, people want to have an inclusive workplace where people actually want to work. She believes that when you get an exceptionally motivated workforce then the turnover of staff goes down. This is because people feel that they are working in an environment where they belong.
Pamela does admit that she appeared in front of the cameras at a young age, naïve with little life experience and not quite ready for the cut and thrust of business. However, the experience gave her an insight and a platform to be in a position to help and to understand people who are in a similar position because of their disability. Where they might feel isolated and wrongly judged about their potential capabilities.
Since settling up Alexia Agency, companies have wanted to buy into Pamela’s idea about inclusion and diversity. They want to get involved by providing the proper resources to ensure employees can flourish. However, she does realise that, for some businesses and organisations, progress is dependent on the company, the industry and how well the employees drive the culture.