FM TALKS: CAREERS! Challenges & Diversity In The Workplace.

FM Talks: Careers!

Part 2/3: Challenges & Diversity In The Workplace

With Abadesi Osunsade

Welcome back to our three-part series on careers, where we’re speaking to Abadesi Osunsade about all things work related!

Last time, we heard how we can all make data-driven decisions to build careers that are more meaningful to us. (If you missed it, you can still read the first part here)! This week, we discuss the common challenges that women, and underrepresented women in particular, face in the workplace.

Abadesi was born in Washington DC to Nigerian and Filipina parents and spent her childhood in East Africa before settling in the UK as a teen. Since launching her career advancement community Hustle Crew in autumn 2016, Abadesi Osunsade has helped thousands of 20-somethings from diverse backgrounds land jobs in tech or progress their careers. In her book “Dream Big, Hustle Hard” she shares advice, activities and frameworks for building a fulfilling career. It’s all the advice she believes we should be learning at school but don’t.

Woman's face collage

Do you find that there are things in general that millennials struggle with in the workplace?

There are lots of studies that show millennials are the most flighty generation of workers since records began. Tenure in our demographic is not great, 18 months in a job feels like a stretch. I’m doing a talk at General Assembly later this month all about this malaise and how we can take a more mindful approach to building our careers. Older generations saw work as a means to an end. They could clock in and clock out and not really care about what they were contributing towards. Those days are over. Work must be meaningful because we are painfully aware of the trade off. We spend 80,000 hours in the office over an average lifetime. I also think millennials struggle with status. Education socialises people to seek rankings, titles and top spots. So when millennials get to work they want to get to the top as soon as possible. It’s at odds with seeking meaning at work, but it seems we are more obsessed by the destination than the journey when it comes to careers.

// Work Must Be Meaningful Because We Are Painfully Aware Of The Trade Off. //

You tend to work more with females right? Why is that?!

Why not!

In all seriousness though, the more I’ve learned about the root causes of inequality with regard to pay and promotions the more I’ve understood why women, and other underrepresented people, gravitate towards Hustle Crew. The patriarchy is a tough place to be an ambitious woman. Similarly western societies are a tough place to be a racial minority. You can do everything right and still not reach the position or pay grade of your equally or less talented male peers or white peers. This has to change. The playing field isn’t even but I am doing what I can to change that. I want everyone in Hustle Crew to have “an unfair advantage”. Whether it’s information or a connection from an expert mentor. They are operating in a society that discriminates against them and they need all the help they can get. Women more than men suffer from imposter syndrome, failing to acknowledge accomplishments and feeling like fraud. That’s why community, mentorship and skills straining are so important.  

As a fairly diverse team ourselves, we’ve found that there’s a pretty fine line between employers using us as a way to check the ‘diverse workforce’ box and being employed for merit. Have you experienced any similar challenges?

I actually wrote an article about how diversity is not a nice to have in response to this view some employers take that diversity is an annoying thing you have to comply with just because it’s the law not because it actually drives value. Or that diversity  is “trendy now” so capitalise on the bandwagon for the sake of it. I like to think that employers with that mindset won’t survive for much longer but we absolutely still have a long way to go.

When I first started going to sales meetings at tech companies pitching Hustle Crew workshops, I was blown away by the number of HR Directors who asked me to deliver my training for free. You cannot make this stuff up. I walk in to pitch my tactics for attracting and retaining underrepresented professionals and they turn to one and ask them to work for free like they didn’t get the memo slavery is over! I think we still need to shift the collective thinking towards the data driven truth that diversity is better for everyone and the right thing to do. I find it baffling some employers still need convincing that injustice and oppression has no place in our society.

Abadesi Osunsade- Founder of Hustlecrew

// Diversity Is Not A ‘Nice To Have’. //

Next week we talk with Abadesi about working in tech, understanding startups & the embedding of inclusivity.

By Fable & Matter