Today marks my one year anniversary leading belonging efforts in Brandwatch’s global team — here are habits we’ve built together

Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

What is the most powerful way you can transform a company’s culture? One year ago when I joined Brandwatch as VP of Global Community & Belonging I made a gamble that only habits, not one-off actions, would help us achieve the progress we wanted.

From hiring more Black people at all levels, to delivering bias and inclusion training to all employees from leadership downwards, our diversity and inclusion goals at Brandwatch have always been bold.

But being bold about belonging…


Creating shared meaning about bias and privilege is essential for teams to promote psychological safety and productivity.

Here’s how we took 300+ Brandwatch employees through 230+ hours of training during a growth-focused phase of our business.

it me (London, pre-pandemic)

In response to evolving discourse around social justice and identity and research on the links between psychological safety and productivity, more and more employers are turning to inclusion training as a tool to equip employees to excel in their roles.

With global teams spread out across various cultures — with different histories and social contexts — the task of training all team mates on bias, privilege and inclusion in a meaningful way to increase confidence navigating conversations can seem like an impossible task.

In 2020 when I joined Brandwatch, with their offices in Sydney, Singapore, US and UK plus remote…


Celebrating Hustle Crew’s 1st birthday party in 2017 with my friends at Huckletree West

Advocating for greater diversity and inclusion in the tech industry as a Black and Asian woman means I’m no stranger to discomfort. I have vivid memories of some of the first diversity workshops I delivered in London in 2017. In these sessions, I invited participants to reflect on structural oppression, on their own implicit and explicit biases, and the privileges they’ve been afforded through their lived experiences. I challenged participants to consider the role they play in blocking greater diversity and inclusion.

No one wants to be the bad guy.

My reflection prompts were often met with aggressive reactions. At best, my heart raced and my face flushed…


Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

As a Black and Asian woman, and bookworm since childhood, I realised far too late in my life that most of the books I’d read were written by people who did not share my lived experiences, that’s why I decided to only read books by women of color in 2019. I devoured Maya Angelou’s autobiography series over a few weeks and then continued to discover incredible new voices who made me feel seen and let me escape into narratives that absorbed me.

In 2020 I had every intention of keeping this rule, but couldn’t resist reading debut novels that friends…


Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie teaches us about the dangers of a single story in her 2018 TED Talk

A single story can be a dangerous thing. Be sure to let 2020 hold multiple defining narratives in your memory.

The year of broken dreams. The year Corona become more than just a beer. The unforgettable, unprecedented time-bending continuum that was 2020 is finally over. How do I want to remember it? Let me count the ways…

A few weeks ago I gathered with my Acumen Academy fellows to discuss Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2018 TED talk, ‘The danger of a single story’. In it she recounts the danger of using our power and privilege to limit a different identity group to a single definitive story.

Zooming in from the context of systemic injustice to the microcosm of my own mind…


https://unsplash.com/@markuswinkler

It’s 2020 & The Tech Industry Still Hates Women. Why?

Two things have happened to me the last month that have reminded me of the misogyny that is alive and well in the tech industry. First, I started watching the new BBC and HBO show Industry. Watching young interns get bullied by their line managers as they desperately seek a permanent role reminded me of the humiliation I endured in the early years of my career, almost always at the hands of men who had more authority than me. It reminded me of DMs I receive regularly from women in tech detailing the bullying and abuse they face at work…


Since joining Brandwatch I’ve run two sourcing jams that have generated 400+ candidates from underrepresented backgrounds

canva studio

At Brandwatch one of our top priorities is increasing representation of underrepresented identities in our team. These groups include folks with disabilities, folks who are BIPOC, folks from the LGBT+ community and even older folks who may be switching careers or returning from a break.

One of the biggest challenges we face in achieving this goal is that whenever we open roles, we tend to find the majority of applicants representing our existing status quo: they tend to be cis-gender, white and male. …


Three months ago I joined Brandwatch as their first ever VP of Global Community & Belonging. I initially approached this newly created role with an unsettling combination of enthusiasm and self-doubt.

Would I be able to deliver on the expectations I created during the interview process?

Would I be able to gel with the team and make an impact in my first few months?

Would I be able to be authentically me, and challenge racism and other forms of oppression wherever I see them manifesting?

These are the questions that kept me up at night.

Now I’m three months in…


Throwback to presenting at Creative Mornings London in October 2018

Five weeks ago I joined Brandwatch as their first ever VP of Global Community and Belonging.

The night before my first day I had the first day jitters and tossed and turned in bed. The following thoughts ran circles around my mind, “What if my performance doesn’t live up to the expectations set in the recruitment process? What if important stakeholders are directly opposed to my views and approach?” And of course that age old anxiety inducer: “What if I got it all wrong in the interviews and I just don’t vibe with the company culture?”

Thankfully those concerns were soon allayed by the encouragement and insight I received from across the company. …


Exciting update: I’m joining Brandwatch as their first ever VP Global Community and Belonging

challenging structural oppression with a smile on my face since 2016

2020 — what a year! I’m extremely grateful to have good news to share in a year that’s really put us through the ringer. I’ve just started in this new role and I’m excited to work alongside the leadership team to create positive lasting change not just in the company but, I hope, the entire tech industry.

I first worked with Brandwatch in 2018. I told my good friend Dylan Marvin, Brandwatch’s Chief Legal and Administrative Officer, that I was disappointed by the lack of tech companies investing in the Hustle Crew workshops I’d designed for underrepresented employees.

Within weeks…

Abadesi

VP Global Community & Belonging at Brandwatch. Author of careers book #DreamBigHustleHard Host #Techish

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