Making It Makers

Abadesi Osunsade on the Power of Inclusivity

Photo credit: Francis Augusto

Disappointed by the lack of progress she had been seeing during her own professional experience, Abadesi Osunsade founded Hustle Crew back in 2016 with a mission to make the tech world more inclusive. Now, the company creates high-impact tools, educational frameworks, and targeted workshops designed to help other businesses learn about bias, privilege, and structural oppression so they can ultimately optimize their workplaces for inclusion. 

Abadesi Osunsade spoke to Squarespace about why she launched Hustle Crew, the importance of working towards inclusivity, and how challenging the status quo has helped her grow personally as well as professionally. 

SQSP: Hustle Crew creates workshops and other tools for companies looking to gain a better understanding of bias, privilege, and structural oppression. What do you hope these companies learn from engaging with your resources?

AO: For many professionals engaging in conversations about belonging can bring up difficult emotions. We want folks to gain confidence and competence while navigating these essential issues so they can connect with their teams and support all people in bringing their whole selves to work. We take a unique approach focused on tools and frameworks so that individuals can start taking informed actions right away regardless of their role.

SQSP: In an ideal world, every company would be working towards making their practices more inclusive. But what advice do you have for underrepresented people who are facing challenges within their workplace?

AO: I would encourage folks to not take on additional responsibilities beyond the role they were hired to do. By virtue of their identity many of these folks end up being in house consultants and experts — saving the company thousands of dollars that should be going to experts if they really want to make an impact and achieve lasting change. I would also encourage folks to practice radical self care and even push for a wellbeing budget from their employer. Working with the burden of racial trauma is a well documented burden.

SQSP: When it comes to advocating for oneself, networking can be a crucial part of finding a community of other professionals who can help with advice, support, or other resources. What advice do you have for people looking for new networking opportunities?

AO: Don’t be afraid to get online and start following folks whose work you admire. Find people in your field, or in roles you aspire to get to and engage with the content they share online.

SQSP: Hustle Crew has an incredibly active community of members. How have you seen your members work together to build a network that strengthens both the individuals as well as the community at large?

AO: Hustle Crew community members are united by a shared vision to make the tech industry more representative of the society it serves. We are bonded by our shared experiences navigating the industry as a minority group, facing prejudice and discrimination. Together we have amplified the message that this change is urgent, and this has rallied employers into action.

SQSP: Many early stage entrepreneurs look to find a mentor to help guide them in their professional journey. What advice would you give to someone who is looking for a mentor?

AO: The best mentors I’ve had I have never even met! So don’t forget how much you can learn from books, articles and podcasts. Then form a reciprocal relationship with someone. See them more as a friend than a mentor and treat them that way.

SQSP: Do you have a few techniques you can share as to how to best manage a mentor/mentee relationship?

AO: Mentees should be incredibly proactive with setting goals and managing the logistics. Mentors should be willing to share personal reflections that relate specifically to their lived experience — the kind of advice you won’t find in a typical business book.

SQSP: How has your work with Hustle Crew impacted your own career?

AO: Before I started Hustle Crew I was just another woman in tech. Making the decision to challenge the status quo and draw attention to an ugly truth has helped increase my visibility in the global tech ecosystem and I am incredibly appreciative of the way taking the risk to become an entrepreneur has paid off.

SQSP: What’s one thing you wish you knew before you launched Hustle Crew?

Ooh! I wish I knew how to enjoy saying no. It's easy to say yes to everything. Capitalism has embedded us with a scarcity mindset which is just not reality. Saying no is an act of discipline and self respect. It ensures you always have enough time left to do the things that really need your attention.

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