The Inside Story: Fadzi Whande – Social Justice Advocate

Fadzi Whande is a Global Diversity and Inclusion Strategist, award winning Social Justice Advocate, Facilitator and Keynote Speaker. Her background ranges from launching telecommunication networks to addressing gender equality, racism, discrimination, health disparities, financial literacy, unemployment and social disadvantage across various sectors in Africa, United Kingdom, USA and Australia. Fadzi is the Inclusion and Diversity Adviser for the University of Western Australia.

A skilled facilitator in the areas of Unconscious Bias, Cultural Competency and Racial Socialisation and Identity, her work primarily focuses on addressing systemic and institutionalised barriers held towards historically underrepresented groups.

She currently serves as the National Human Rights Program Convenor for the United Nations Association of Australia and sits on the Board of the Museum of Freedom and Tolerance, is on the Diversity Reference Group for White Ribbon, WA Police Multicultural Women’s Network Group and is an Ambassador for the philanthropic women’s circle 100 Women, Water for Africa and the Humanitarian Group.

A dynamic and engaging speaker, Fadzi is a champion for encouraging dialogue as a means of understanding difference. Over the course of her career she has been the recipient of various awards and accolades including being awarded the 2016 International Racial Equity Leadership Award in USA; 2016 finalist for the Australian Human Rights – ‘Racism it Stops With Me’ Award; 2015 Australian National Committee for UN Women’s delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York; 2014 recipient of the National Community Ambassador Award by and in was appointed a People of Australia Ambassador by the Federal Mister for Multicultural Interests. On top of all this Fadzi is the proud mother to two teenage sons, Mufaro and Munashe.

Fadzi received an Executive Master in Business Administration and Graduate Certificate in Social Impact from the University of Western Australia.

Can you please give us an overview of your business?

I run a diversity and inclusion consulting service.

What ignited the spark in you to start your business venture?

I was out of work for some time and was sick and tired of receiving another ‘unsuccessful’ email notification. I also had become disillusioned with the lack of diversity within organizations and the lack of resources to address this.

What did you want to be when you left school? Did you study?

When I was in high school I wanted to be a lawyer. I was the President of the Debating and Public Speaking Club and it seemed like a natural progression. However ‘life’ happened after school. I didn’t go to University as planned and found myself a ‘stay at home’ mom not by choice but by circumstance. I was living in another country and was unable to get a work permit so ended up volunteering for a few organisations.

It was during this time that I realized the amount of disadvantage and lack of opportunities for women and left the corporate world and became a full time volunteer which led me into the not for profit sector.

If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

I would embrace the moment (living in the now) and seasons of life. I rushed through life thinking I was missing out on things and I wish I had spent more time enjoying not working; being a mom instead of chasing an elusive dream based on the need to feel validated and accepted by others.

Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?

After being unemployed for six months and watching the bills pile in. I knew I needed to act. My sons were watching me and I wanted to be a good example. I invested all I had in personal development program to help boost my self-confidence and had a website and business cards made and attended a lot of networking events. I acted the part before I became the part.

Initially, what difficulties did you face in business?

Establishing a profile where people could see me as a recognized authority and financial resources to kick start things.

Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?

I had to get out of my own way. I also had a lot of supportive friends who kept telling me I could do it and would provide me with opportunities to run workshops or attend advisory meetings.

Were there any major changes you have made to your initial business model?

Not really.

What was your initial marketing strategy, and how has it changed?

I have never really had one and it’s something I need to do. My work has mainly come about through referrals and word of mouth.

Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?

Fear and apprehension are normal but you have to be prepared to take risks. Start the business for you, not anyone else and learn to laugh at yourself. Be prepared for setbacks and have a great support system for the days when you want to be swallowed by the hole in the ground that never appears when you need it to.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

  • Believe in yourself
  • Have a plan
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks

How have you personally measured your success?

Every experience good or bad is a learning experience. I journal and reflect a lot and I like going back and reading where I was last year six months ago etc to see if I have evolved in any way. My success is measured by the impact I have on other people if I can inspire them to be different in any way or play a part in helping them achieve their goal that’s a win for me.

How do you make the most of your day?

Planning what I want to achieve and taking stock

Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?

  • Proud mom to two teenage boys
  • Inclusion and Diversity Adviser, UWA
  • National Human Rights Program Convenor, United Nations Association Australia
  • Ambassador, 100 Women, Water for Africa & The Humanitarian Group
  • Board member, Museum of Freedom and Tolerance

When you think of your journey, what is the thing you are most proud of?

That I didn’t give up or quit when things got too hard.

What is your favourite thing to do in your downtime? 

Read or watch a romcom.

Outsource the skill or learn the skill?

Both if it means supporting another woman entrepreneur then outsource J.

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