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Abadesi Osunsade: Women Doing Bits Series

This week, we speak to Abadesi Osunsade, the founder and CEO of Hustle Crew, which is a diversity-in-tech community and training company. She’s also the author of Dream Big. Hustle Hard: The Millennial Woman's Guide to Success in Tech and co-host of the podcast Techish.

What do you do in a sentence?

I am the founder and CEO of Hustle Crew, which is a career’s community for the underrepresented in tech, providing talks and training to make the industry more inclusive.

How did you come up with the idea?

Hustle Crew was started because of my own experiences working in tech and just feeling excluded. I felt that this is an industry that serves all of society but tends to only represent only one type of person and I really wanted to do something to change that.

I felt that the solution to the problem was helping people understand structural oppression and bias better, and realised that actually your identity will impact your success in the career world and your access to opportunities in tech. So by starting that conversation, tech companies can make more equitable decisions whether that’s recruitment or even product design. 

Why are safe spaces so important?

There’s a lot of research that shows that the further away from the dominant groups in the workplace, the more penalties you face for everyday behaviour – whether that’s speaking up for yourself or asserting yourself or bringing your whole self to work, wearing your hair naturally, speaking the way that you speak with your natural inflections.

So what’s nice about safe spaces is that for many people they are the only place within their professional lives where they can be their whole self. Safe spaces are, of course, at home, hanging out with your friends, but where are the safe spaces at work? If you look like the CEO and your act like the CEO, maybe every place at work is a safe space for you.

But what happens when that’s not the case and that’s where things like women’s networks, black employee networks become really important. Because it’s actually the first time at work where people can really take that filter off and be who they really are and they stop whitewashing themselves for a second and bring their whole self to the conversation.

What does representation mean to you?

I’m a Londoner so before Covid and all this drama started, I used to love getting on the bus, getting on the tube to zip across the city and just see how many different types of people are there. And I just want representation to be walking into a co-working space or a tech startup and seeing the same diversity as I see on a bus or tube carriage – that’s what representation would be for me. 

What’s your advice for someone looking for creative freedom to do what they love?

I think that sometimes it’s about looking at the world through the lens of systems and being realistic about the timeline to create your creative freedom.

At the end of the day, if you have bill to pay and you’re wondering about how to pay your rent, this month may not be the time that you carve your career around your creative freedoms because it could be that the jobs that you need to pay the bills right now just aren’t there. So maybe you need to use other skills that aren’t as creative just to kind of survive in the context of a capitalist system.

But you know, we’ve all been there – I’m a CEO now and I’m living life by my rules but I worked in retail and I did all of the things such as charity fund raising and standing on the streets – I did it all and it’s a journey. I think to be able to live a life that’s driven by your creative freedom is about being realistic of the timeline of that journey and being willing to do whatever it takes to survive so you can get to a place where you can prioritise that work. 

What’s your favourite Afrocenchix product?

Sheen keeps my hair looking good between washes. I’ve even started using it on my husband’s hair as his hair is quite curly and he’s grown it out during lockdown. It’s so nice to be able to spray it, moisturise it and style it and it just looks as fresh as the day that I washed it. So that’s the product that I use the most, but they are all great and I also like the moisturising cream (Smooth) and I also really like the lemongrass smell. I’m addicted to it now! 

How can we support your current projects? 

Please follow Hustle Crew Live on Instagram. We’re posting fresh content to inspire you daily and if you’re interested in levelling up as an ambassador of inclusion, you can even sign up for our membership, it’s £12 a month and you get weekly case studies to be an inclusion ambassador in your community as well as monthly workshops. 

About The Women Doing Bits Series: This March, we’ll be talking to impressive women in our community (like Bola Sol, Abadesi Osunsade and Sharmadean Reid) about what they do, how they came up with their big ideas and much more. 

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