Innovation Sparx Episode 5 - " Empowering Women Through Tech and Innovation "

Updated: May 10

With International Women’s Day this month, To celebrate Meghana Srinivas, Founder at TrustIn is invited to Innovation SparX - Thought Leadership session (March 2022) as the Guest speaker and Industry expert in Legal Innovation and Technology. As part of our Legal Innovation initiative, we started this Innovation Thought Leadership series in August 2021 that aims to usher innovation thought processes across our teams and the legal ecosystem at large.

Yavanika Shah:- Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to episode five of Innovation Spark Ticks. For those who do not know, this is Meghan Srinivas, which we have here on the occasion of International Women's Month. Hello Meghana I think we have connected inform only a lot of times and this is the first time we're going to have a formal one-on-one conversation, we'll keep it informal we'll get to know about you and your journey how did you begin TrustIn what's your take on posh compliance and a lot o about women's months, to begin with, I think Algo has been associated with you from for a very long time or those who do not know Meghana was also a part of Algo's incubation program that happened in 2019, and she is a boss woman and entrepreneur and the founder of TrustIn which is one of the end-to-end posh compliance platforms so Meghan over to you let us know about what you do what is trust in and everything else

Meghana Srinivas: - Thanks, Yavanika, for the introduction. Good afternoon, thank you all so much for taking the time to be here today, as Yavanika has mentioned, my name is Meghana. I'm the founder of TrustIn You will hear a lot more about it as we have this conversation today and yes I'm here because I think the theme of this month's conversation is around diversity and equity inclusion and I'm not saying that here we're going to have all the answers, or I know everything there is to know, but I hope it can leave us having the questions asking the questions about this whether at home at work in all the spaces where we are engaging so, thank you so much for having me Yavanika thank you for inviting me and just wonderful to see everybody's face again as you Yavanika also mentioned so we and TrustIn C.O.R.D were part of the Algo's Legal Tech incubation which meant we got a lot of coaching inputs from Dhruv and Sandeep you know got us through our first year got us out the gate for sure. I think people like Smith and Smith, as women leaders, were so encouraging of our vision and what we're trying to do, so it's always great to be back and talking to the Algo's team and also see it grow every single day.

Yavanika Shah:- That's wonderful Meghana. Let's begin with knowing what TrustIn does, what exactly is the POSH compliance tool and in case you have any video to let us know about what TrustIn is?

Meghana Srinivas:- Yeah great, One of the things is an occupational hazard I'm always pitching TrustIn, so you can always feel free to drop some questions you know thoughts, so essentially we are a start-up that's two and a half years old, and we set out to solve for unsafe workplaces and the simplest way to do it was through posh compliance so after the #metoo movement I think because of my lived experience of people around me, I started building when I was working at a VC firm as a side project around how can people report sexual harassment and how can the committee members redress it and we start as a product, but now we do the training programs for Algo as well we take care of the annual compliance that means we hound smith a lot for her signatures that's why she's smiling so we do like a full-stack posh safety and sensitization service we've also been doing it for other safety compliance.

I said we started out as a product because what we felt is in the global south that is awareness of our s but still very hard to access those s and what our inspiration was in the US and Europe if you see there are a lot of these chatbots a lot of these systems where you can escalate microaggressions you can escalate complaints but when we started nobody else was trying to build that for the Indian market I still think it is difficult to build in the Asian market because the mindset is that even if you're in a very toxic workplace even if your boss is maybe out sexually harassing you still have a good job you should make a big fuss at maybe you can exit your company, but I'm glad that the mindset is changing and the 30 clients that we are working with in India are a great proof point of that, so I'm just going to quickly show you this is the very first video we made of a walkthrough of our system, so you get an idea of what the system exactly looks like so if anybody's interested this is our website you can go check out some of our more detailed offerings, but this is just an overview of our enterprise system.

Meghana Srinivas :- It's a short rehearse video I feel the foremost important parts that we focused on were really what are the wants of the employers that are not being met I feel it had been very easy as a knee-jerk reaction to think that people aren't complaining because they're scared there's of those societal stigmas those things are certainly true, but it's also true that you're asking folks that are non-lawyers to carry out what's a fairly complex legal process so once we had built the MVP which we started lecture thousands of lawyers IC members ethics committee members HR leaders we realised that wasn't just a reporting problem it had been also definitely a reparation problem because the way your committee members handle a complaint and shut a case gives you confidence whether you'd wish to complain about something or not within the longer term so as that was something we began to create that's something we only learned from lecturing our users and potential customers and of course from the worker front like you saw within the video, there might be ways that we are aware of our s we all do the annual posh sensitization things , but it's still quite hard to access those s the traa response might kick in I'd not remember what my policy says I'd no skills to contact members of the committee especially during a large the company, so those are a variety of the things '

Where our chatbot system also our complaint system make it you recognize very simple we began for fewer than sexual harassment complaints but because our clients wanted more modules we've added things like embezzlement and fraud microaggressions including things like cast microaggressions there's a fact for you recognize manager bullying and employee insubordination also so really what we're doing is just learning from the market and evolving with the market I think around the world and particularly in Asia immediately this conversation is simply growing so in some ways like yeah we feel lucky that we were able to start building with startup's as well as social enterprises who are very very progressive about this anything you would like me to say, Abner. So I asse in terms of where we're at currently we're a four-member team and we work with a constellation of consultants across our training services also as our compliance, not a lawyer I feel Anika already has questions that later within the interview so we'll mention it then but again as I say we provide a program we provide a product and we have 30 clients immediately in India we're running a few of pilots from Singapore in Malaysia which we did that more intensely last year so happy to talk about that also how the legal landscape is evolving across Asia and Africa and yes I feel we're growing steadily through word of mouth we're bootstrap start-ups currently and that I am a solo founder which I feel each day you know we're learning and building a little bit better

Yavanika Shah:- As you mentioned that once we were browsing your bio the one thing that intrigued me was that you simply come from a non-legal background from somebody who doesn't understand POSH once you just check out and have a glance at it, so I feel if you've got a fancy degree which is named as double majors in molecular and cell biology from UC Berkeley so how did you come to the present situation where you wanted to start something sort of TrustIn which are some things which do not have anything to try to together with your degree your graduation and the way did the initial idea start.

Meghana Srinivas:- I think I will be able to say this that it's only the law field during which I've seen people ask people as non-lawyers as I've never heard non-engineer non-teacher non-scientists but I feel law may be additionally very conscious of that no offence to anybody, but I feel for me, even after my degree what I used to be doing as I used to be working within the development space for quite a short time I used to be a Teach for India then I used to make a difference I learned tonnes about programs teaching training all of that great things impact measurement and that I've always been very driven by the impact because once I began my career as a biologist.

I assed that might be the foremost impactful thanks to getting to people's lives but I feel to be in academia it's a very different quiet mindset in some ways entrepreneurship quote is nearly the other of that and that I am an impatient person I feel things like this are a far better fit for me and again after I used to be building programs for a while I started feeling that programs can only grow their very people dependent but products a minim of can scale impact that is what I started seeing once I started fixing EdTech products so okay this is often often often often often quicker this is more efficient this is less wasteful so that's once I crossed over to a VC firm like USA's project Calisto which was where students who are equivalent perpetrators on college campuses could hook up with one another using blockchain then go and complain to the title ix committee which is essentially like their posh committee.

So I just built it then suddenly you recognize tonnes of my ex-employers were such as you know is that this actually, a real product because then I'll pay if it's and even once I was still at the VC firm we had three people that are willing to place money within the bank so I used to be like okay I feel I started realizing that you simply simply know this is a market opportunity begin skilling myself on posh I feel in you recognize lucky, things posh is I used to be leading the program there but what I want to try to do is find out how to create a corporation the way to build a product and that is round the time when me too movement hit so in some ways I'll say I'm a more of a civil law so you do not get to be a lawyer to be certified therein so I feel I started getting very interested start feeling that you recognize around the world if you check out it partially very landmark piece of legislation so start feeling that yeah both in program and merchandise there are tons of opportunities here.

And I feel once we hit our fifth being customers once I started doing this full time so late in 2019 around November that's also once we got into this Singapore pitch competition at the Singapore Tecla fest so I you recognize we were the semi-finalists and everybody else is five years old and that we were five weeks old at that point just running this very basic system everything was manual at that point I used to be the founder I used to be an the salesman I used to be the AI also all of it had been just me behind her laptop and that is where Sandeep saw us that's when he decided that you recognize he wanted us to return to alogia but I honestly think Yavanika has just been a series of fortunate accidents also we got like some funding from the govt of Karnataka it's called an elevate grant so that sauce through the primary year of the pandemic I also think the pandemic made everyone tons more hospitable technology, especially lawyers like if you're asked at the start of trusting the journey you recognize most lawyers like what's legal tech they could still be saying viscerally accidental entrepreneur like my dad is a first-generation entrepreneur so during this kind of impossible dream kind of vision then the planet itself evolving a far better understanding that unless we have a more diverse and reasonable space

In fact these are buzzwords immediately sometimes I feel they're also bastardised for you know just pr purposes but it is also true that, , if you check out the millennial and gen z kind of decision-makers this is a much bigger priority than ever was within the past so I feel altogether of those belongings you know things have just fallen together and that is sort of how I feel also another thing is we were very very niche-specific so due to my background first we visited of these social enterprises that are tech-enabled like teach for India you know eight again after the primary five start-ups subsequent ten became very very easy so I think it's almost starting small then building from there during this kind of impossible dream kind of vision then the planet itself evolving a far better understanding that unless we have a more diverse and equitable space in fact these are buzzwords immediately sometimes I feel they're also bastardised step the ball starts rolling where after the primary five clients subsequent ten are very easy then we start going after seed stage start-ups so again they're very progressive they need to possess a culture that's safe and inclusive they do not have the time or money to work it out they certainly do not have a legal team who can advise them so once we came in as a full stack sort of solution they were very proud of that then for you know just purposes but it is also true that if you check out the millennial and gen z kind of decision makers this is a much bigger priority than ever was within the past

So I feel altogether of those belongings you know things have just fallen together and that is sort of how I feel also another thing is we were very very niche-specific so due to my background first we visited of these social enterprises that are tech-enabled like teach for India you know eight-step then the ball starts rolling where after the primary five clients subsequent ten are very easy then we start going after seed state start-up's so again they're very progressive they need to possess a culture that's safe and inclusive they do not have the time or money to work it out they certainly do not have a legal team who can advise them so once we came in as a full-stack sort of solution they were very proud of that then again after the primary five start-ups subsequent ten became very very easy so I think it's almost starting small then building from there

Yavanika Shah:- The next question that comes up from this similar answer that you simply gave me is once we mention an end-to-end posh compliance too and once we also mention innovation which is now for today it's just a buzzword so how does one integrate innovation and technology into an end-to-end compliance system because compliance I feel for many of the organisations immediately is simply something that you just got to do I feel there sense how does one probably make it a more forward-looking approach towards the organisation where they understand that this is often something that just not is required to be done but his or her entire structure needs to survive and flourish.

Meghana Srinivas :- I think probably my answer may be a little contrary I do think if there was no top-down pressure to implement posh it might not be getting implemented even at the size that's today in urban India and rural India remains again many miles faraway from that i do think that the Indian government has you recognize a number of these formulations for compliance are very al done like for instance if you check out a Singapore so there's something called the POHA act yeah it's extremely funny prevention of harassment act very almost like posh but also very vague so it says please do these companies this is often getting to be good for you and in fact it's there on paper but in implementation, it is a very different game people are scared to talk up again the committees won't be formulated if they exist they are not get to speak up again to the committees might not be formulated if they exist they're not well trained all of that so i do think that compliance pressures can be positive pressures I think the ways in which technology can really take compliance to the next level it's two different things one is just the transparency aspect so for example trust in our system is generating all the annual reports so now there is it's like a positive forcing function for employers to be more transparent if there are clients because now there's no question of somebody be manually changing the numbers or the data being changed or things like that so all of these things also need to be publicly shared and that again fosters like a more open culture of growth so that's one aspect of it i think the second aspect is that you know as generally as tech founders we have this arrogance that tech will solve all problems but what we don't realise is in that kind of situation the tech actually causes more problems it's like that story of the demon raptor Baja which you know like if you killed him and one drop of blood fell on the ground like it would become a new monster so it's like that so i think what we need to realise this technique is to be very contextual to the communities and companies that we are serving up only then will it be used

I'm sure we've all heard horror stories of you know onboarding that go on for two weeks and then still nobody's using the enterprise software and the enterprise software is so ugly and clunky and you're still paying like lacks and lacks of rupees every year simply because you're committed so in my mind I think that's that's just it's seen as an example of innovation but it's not it's actually Going backward because now you're making somebody's life even harder they have to do it manually as well as digitally for the same outcome so i think tech also for me tech that's truly innovative is you know it has a positive forcing function like it really moves the culture compliance you know the company forward as such the second thing is it has to be really contextual which means that you know your users should be able to figure it out themselves like we have never done a tutorial for trust in that ugly screen recording you saw is the most we sent and they've never needed it because you can just figure it out and that came because we work with product designers for the employee side we use a lot of like traa counsellors even just how to order the information how to use the words all of that so I think that's where design is truly innovative and I know again this is an obvious buzzword but han-centric design like in the end you're designing for hans and if you need to keep telling the hans exactly what to do at every step they think it's not innovative you're just force fitting tech that you think solves so yeah i mean at the risk of just giving Diane I think this is my take on innovative tech.

Yavanika Shah:- I think, when we just talk about innovative tech visually, posh compliance tool, we also understand that there's going to be a lot of organisations who are going you are gonna have conversations with you're going to talk about probably put implementing all of these compliance tools could you just give us some like you know you have a lot of conversations with them what are some things that you see on an organisation level up from all your conversations with the stakeholders that you see is a missing part in all of those conversations with the organisation.

Meghana Srinivas :- I would still come back to design I think there are two aspects of it one is the existing status quo mindset so I mean having worked in education and now having worked in legal tech can say that education and the legal law continue to resist tech and you know digitization and I think especially in the legal world it makes a lot of sense because it's a problem of misaligned incentives this is techno there's a space that traditionally has had early billing for example and then tech comes and fundamentally disrupts that because that's not all the model of tech so I think it's one thing is I think aligning the incentives the second thing is really again going back to that design piece where it's like you're giving the legal teams more work what I usually hear is that you're training legal teams for hours and hours on end this is not even the expertise to the point where they start detesting the technology they almost see it as an extra second job and they'll do anything in their power to avoid it altogether.

And again I think this comes back to the problem of bad design I think generally enterprise tech you know you know that for example for conser apps b2c or dunzo your swiggy or zomato if it doesn't look good if it isn't easy to use you'll go somewhere else but tomorrow you can't be like I'm on a junk sap and go to some other provider it's not that easy so I think enterprise tech really needs to embrace design and become a lot more modern I think lawyers can definitely move past video conferencing to you know to see how there are tech systems which can make their life easier but I think it's a two-pronged problem that I see when I'm talking to legal teams at any company and unfortunately most compliance tools are seen and they can be state of the art they can be super expensive but I would say 90 of the time the compliance tool is not being used at all it's just the end of the year like you know the night before the exam is when everybody just fills in all the data which they've already manually collected painstakingly and then they're like yes we've used this tool so now it's just becoming a double bind for everyone.

Yavanika Shah:- Yeah, I feel the whole industry and not just industry-specific as a legal industry all the industries discuss posh and bus laws regarding the compliance and that we all see we all are this dozen of articles that you simply know come up monthly with what's wrong with the luxury laws how you'll better them so I would like to know how does TrustIn bridge that gap between all of this compliance that are the mandatory statutory requirements plus also make it a more user-friendly a more environment friendly within the sense that the employers and therefore the employees both of them know what they really shall do with the posh laws.

Meghana Srinivas :- Sure I mean honestly sometimes I feel we've to travel away from India to appreciate India so last year is once I spent tonnes of your time in Singapore running these pilots and things like that so I feel one among the items we've to understand about posh which I didn't know honestly is that it's a reality as I said landmark legislation so within the UK for instance if you're fixing an ethics panel and you're handling harassment maybe for the primary time you'd probably use posh not very strictly not within the framework it's exactly given but you recognize you'd use some things like this interim relief like you know getting paid day off after a complaint using terms like complainant and respondent maybe even make it a touch more gender-neutral all of these things are very very strong with posh I feel implementation is where we've how to go so I feel regarding 1 is when clients come to us as I say they might be described mostly maybe more as add today's context as I say they're mostly young seed state start-ups or they're very technical social enterprises so what they need they already know they're such as you know what posh only allows women complainants but we might sort of a gender-neutral policy so now what we've done is we've templates that leave that so in one instance are going to be called internal committee another instance are going to be called the grievance committee disciplinary committee whatever you would like but there are ways ready to you'll work around that as an employer the second thing is I feel just in terms of employee friendliness it says within three to 6 months you've got to report a case.

But unfortunately such as a trauma response and tons of lawyers try to urge this edited now that you simply realise it could be very difficult to access those memories and file a case within three months so what you'll do on the trusted system is you'll encrypt and store this information you'll save your screenshots all of those evidences until you're able to report and tonnes of employers do take this under the grievance committee also so as I say one among the core things and why we attempt to stay smaller also maybe not spray and pray to love you recognise many companies just yet is because we are contextualising for each user every customer in order that doesn't just remain an afterthought it isn't that each year only during post training you remember trust in then you ditch it we actually want to figure with them and we've also done tonnes of other things employee culture surveys dipstick surveys anonymous things in order that they're also able to keep a finger on the heart beat of their organisation so what we always say is you are not expecting a case or sort of a attack to panic it's just that you've got almost like an ECG you have a thing on the heart beat of your company culture and you recognise where things are progressing it shouldn't come as a shock to you that tomorrow i do not know 20 percent of your workforce resigns or an enormous big leader seems to be a harasser those things are what we actually want to stop.

Yavanika Shah:- Yeah, I think just because you said that you have also worked on these, things for Singapore, for the Singapore territory I think would like to understand what is the like the major differences you saw in implementing all these kinds of laws when you talk about Indian contexts, like regarding Indian context and the things that are being probably implemented in the Asia Pacific or our organisation?

Meghana Srinivas :- Yeah I feel when I visited Singapore because I feel all folks know that a really during a sia it's seen as a legal tech hub and therefore the second thing may be antler India was like listen you would like to seek out a co-founder we do not do this here during antelope Bangalore so we were antler Singapore I used to be like okay fine I went and that I think it didn't really compute with the antler program although it had been an excellent three months of learning but i did start running these pilots in Singapore and Malaysia as I said Singapore features a very similar and analogous app called the POHA app immediately the matter is because there is no top-down pressure on companies the way that's with posh companies implement during any way they like and for better or worse this suggests everybody within the Apache region is typically following these quite close guidelines an ethics panel how does one upskill them how do they handle cases this is often often often often all, up within the air so it's almost left to the leadership of the local countries India is that the only exception to the present because as I say the luxury act is extremely clear, you recognise the rules are very clear and that we need to follow it but for instance, in Japan Korea, we've clients based out of these places, they love of coming to our training because they understand the structure then they are going ahead and implement that structure during a way that creates sense to them, but otherwise you recognise it's just like the just like the blind leading the blind they need no idea where to start so that's one big thing we saw in Singapore that the top-down pressure because it's missing it's causing tons of confusion what I also like in posh law is that it's such as you know once you have 10 or more paid employees you've got to possess this committee there is no room for any you recognize okay whenever you've got time once you're inspired motivated it doesn't hinge like that there second thing is I feel very cultural context what I noticed maybe a after three months of running the pilots nobody was using the anonymous chatbot and no-one had complained and this is not what happened once we unrolled in India even once we were doing unpaid pilots people were lecturing the chatbot we were getting 85 000 queries during a month

So what I did is I did some anonymous focus group discussions started asking people why are you not exploring this tool is there something we should always do better I feel my big learning is that the way casteism and harassment or sexism intersect in India in a similar way racism and harassment might intersect in Singapore the matter is that it's far more complicated because you would like an employment visa to remain within the country if you lose your employment visa you've got to go away Singapore in a month and Singapore is a very tiny country it's like the size of south Bangalore so if you're seen as somebody who's a troublemaker or whistle-blower not only will your employer fire you but nobody else will offer you employment because they're going to know of you so these were a few of the structural reasons also but albeit Singapore is a very safe place this stuff does happen misconduct does happen whenever there are power imbalances power does get you recognise that does get exploited and it's not an exception, I might say it's still not reported the maxim amount because people do need to consider the way to put food on the table the way to stay within the country where they've built their life some things like that so i feel that's when you recognise we made the regretful decision that perhaps this is not yet the time maybe this is not the shape during which this solution goes to achieve countries like Singapore there is a huge learning for me because I feel whether we are compliance or respondents in a rustic as big as India we will still move ahead and figure it out for the foremost part i feel we had never thought of you know smaller size being a constraint lack of state pressure being such an enormous barrier and most significantly I feel just how this stuff can go together together like here what we see in cases is that if they're cast based microaggressions they are doing intersect with harassment but maybe only about 30 percent of the time 70 percent of the time they're occurring separately whereas there was no differentiation most of the time so as I say it might need a very different kind of structure or solution to achieve such a country.

Yavanika Shah:- So yeah I do understand the differences probably the ones that you lay down I think, India has to probably struggle in these, aspects a lot, but yeah if I'm wrong, I think for posh statutory compliance you need 10 or more employees so how do you see make now how does this push the entire system of posh would work for say a start-up like you who's just four member people or something like smaller organisations where you're working in like very, smaller workplaces they're just like one manager, four more employees, and then if there's some something like that happens how does posh under how does the posh compliance take place in that kind of systems?

Meghana Srinivas :- I think you know, if you're talking legally and logistically, it's fairly simple, , like for example, at TrustIn we have a code of conduct, we do have a safety and posh policy, we have an anti-discrimination policy, so there's nothing in the law that says if you're smaller than 10 you can't do it , and we do see a lot of forward-thinking employers do it as well we work with a lot of college interns for things like social media and SEO so we do have an intern fraternization policy although honestly me and our engineers we don't fraternize with each other forget the interns but it's just a good practise to have and building some of these docents ourselves has given us the insight into how to advise other people who are building similar docents so I think we should see it more holistically as you said yeah it's not just about that checkbox compliance what is our situation our situation is yes a lot of interns involved are underage there might be a power imbalance that occurs not at this scale but later and we just want to build for that so some of you know I would say best practises in small companies our code of conduct internal fractionalization policy drugs and alcohol use policy and generally at least a safety policy is a good idea because we do work with clients we do work with consultants and consultants are our employees especially under the posh law so that's one important thing to keep in mind you don't have to wait for that milestone to start implementing this you know the earlier you start the more it becomes part of your foundation, everybody's speaking the same language, , , the second thing is again, you can do the annual sensitization, , you can almost have it like discussions, you can do other things that make sense, maybe open fors and things like that, , many times what we do is the entire trusted people join you know, we do one pro bono training as well per year, which is for a lot of volunteer organisations like say head start and things like that.

So the entire trusted team will also join in, and usually, on those calls, it's like, you know, 2000 people and IC across all those companies and things like that, so I think what we make sure we are doing is evolving, stay sensitized.ed, all that,at , it can be very easy to lose sight of that you know, and you know, it's always like build and sell build and sell, but obviously if you don't walk the talk then I don't think we'd be the people to advise others to do it, so we just keep engaging with our own space as much as possible, and that's something again smaller companies can do as well almost every posh form I know, does have some pro bono sort of, you know, offering they do for a few very small non-profits, things like that so and they can reach out to us as well if they're interested, in getting this started but I would say it's not like this auspicious time where okay, now here's 10th employee let's begin, it does take a lot of time to create these policies and all of that even from our end, so I would say they can get started as soon as they are financially able to do so.

Yavanika Shah:- I think that's like one question that I always usually used to have because I think just not checking you know like taking the check box that's not something that needs to be done for our practices like this but it's also like organisations need to take a holistic view about what their future growth also looks visibly the kind of diversity and inclusiveness they bring to their organisation because that's exactly what's going to define how your growth prospects look like regarding how it will stay in the firm

Meghana Srinivas :- Yeah I think also honestly as i think now if you want to attract and keep good talent there is no better, you know signifier than your culture and what your people are saying through the whisper network I've seen this a lot so you don't even have to be like an organisation that's sitting in the office I think that mindset was there earlier sexual harassment can't happen on calls or you know virtually it can only happen in person things like that and one of my friends even asked me in march 2020 so you have to shut trust him down because sexual harassment has stopped I'm like i wish I wish that is what was happening so I think what I've also seen a lot of these head start and volunteer you know organisations do very well is figuring out how can we co-create safe spaces because people keep coming and going there's such high like thoroughfare but small things like having flyers and leaflets small things like okay if you're on zoom calls and you are using our logo then you have to ensure that your display name is the same as your you know legal name small things like this there's a lot of zoom bombing that was happening and again that is a form of sexual harassment early in the pandemic so they figured out guidelines for that so no matter what medi you're using and no matter whom you're engaging with even colleges now you might see what's going on in Azeem Premji and a few others and we also do some pro bono consulting for colleges around how to have this committee how to have the policy how to do the training all of that so there is I would say no domain where this is not relevant it's just a question of where the leadership is committed to following through on implementing this effectively.

Yavanika Shah:- True and as you mentioned I think the pandemic changed how organisations work so I think even the posh the way it's been implemented has changed in the way that it's no more like your face-to-face meeting and it's not like just the harassment that's going to happen face to face but there's also a lot of things that could happen over a zoo call or a WhatsApp or a skype so I mean what other recent kind of new things that you have noticed that has probably come up to you and be deported to you that probably all of us also could you know probably should understand that these are also the ones that qualify as a posh guideline

Meghana Srinivas :- sure I mean that's a little hard to say yeah honestly because it is very very very contextual I think many times what happens is just because there is no sexually explicit language or images used does not mean it's sexual harassment even everyday language can be used with the intent to Harris I think one of the things I really like about the posh law is its impact over intent so what matters is the impact on the person receiving the behaviour not the intent of the person starting the behaviour but that's a very important one and what we have to understand is that it's always about consent so whether you're sending these non-red jokes on WhatsApp or whether you're having these kinds of conversations we all make friends at the workplace and posh is not there to scare all of us into behaving very well or something like that it's just about making sure that you know we're getting consent from people and we're creating a safe workplace where nobody is feeling negatively impacted for example

If I notice that somebody is reacting badly and you know they are not feeling good maybe I'll just check-in and say hey Yavanika are you, okay I'm sorry if my joke offended you earlier I won't repeat the behaviour so there's also like a very important part of dialogue the posture is very clear what it says is no matter what my experience my personality my exposure in life I deserve to have a safe workplace so even if it was not your intention to harass me by saying certain things if I'm negatively impacted I can take it to the internal committee and they will explore and see what the situation was what are the recommendations all of that but please make sure that you're getting consent before having any kind of sexually explicit encounters with anybody and again it's not about you know gender there it's about who's starting the behaviour and who's receiving the behaviour that's how we say it and then yeah make sure that you're having that dialogue.

If you do notice that somebody's feeling excluded or they're feeling unsafe negative about some encounter you can always ask you can check-in you can apologize and make sure that you're not repeating the behaviour if you see something happening as a bystander I think bystanders and colleagues are a very important aspect of co-creating a safe workplace our policies can be fantastic once a year we can have a great session with Aparna Mittal but then if you're not upholding it on a day-to-day basis if there's a culture where people are gossiping about each other and especially their private lives all of that it will make people feel unsafe it will have mental health fallout it will affect the productivity of the entire organization so I think also being aware that that's something we do as a choice every day it's not just a once a year thing yeah I think another second thing is also like I mean this conversation has also happened in the larger sphere I think now we are reaching like a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of misconduct, you know it's not just sexual harassment anymore I think if you see for example recently you know there was a very famous founder who was removed as a shark or shark tank and removed from his own company due to reported misconduct so i think what we're also seeing is apart from keeping talent apart from you know even the clients and investors are now putting their vote against any kinds of toxic behaviours so might is might have worked in the past throwing more money at problems maybe even throwing tech at problems might have worked in the past but i definitely think the employees of today they see themselves more as co-creators of a healthy culture they feel free to opt in and out of cultures that might be good for them or not so that's definitely something that is a positive trend and i hope more of us can encourage that.

Yavanika Shah:- That makes sense now, I would like, some of our participants, if they have any questions for Meghana, probably to pick this up

Participant 1:- It's great to see where you've come you know since we first met two years ago, would love to know like where you plan to go, what are your ambitions with, trust in I know you spoke about a little bit about Singapore, but what are you planning do you have plans to grow in India looking at other jurisdictions from the company perspective

Meghana Srinivas:- I think honestly this year though we are testing a few bets so again what I realised is going from a very product lens did not work in Singapore because of some of the reasons I mentioned but we're going through existing corporate training firms because they provide the program and we are co-selling with them to pilot the product so that that is underway in Singapore and Malaysia what we're also seeing is that what we're already offering as a program there are some other bets we're placing we're running a few pilots with some clients who are Japan and South Korea based because as I said they don't have a framework so that is a space that we can fill we give them a framework we give them a program we start this conversation and that's what we've done with a lot of our Indian clients as well start from the program perspective add a product layer on top of it and then just keep growing in some of these niches.

I think two questions that we're trying to answer this year with all of these program and product pilots is one what is the niche that we are uniquely able to cater to in India I think answering that question fairly early has made sure that we're growing organically and to what our outcome and impact measurements for us I think it's very easy for us to get carried away and say that you know, as long as we keep growing, as long as we're generating revenue, then we're doing great, and of course, that's great because we don't have to worry about survival, but I think somewhere you know, I also feel that we are getting a little confused with who's our user, who's our customer and what does it mean to be an end beneficiary of trusting, so yeah some existential questions to answer as well this year

Participant 1:- Great, nice to know

Yavanika Shah:- Anyone else who has questions?

Participant 1:- Okay Meghana, I have a question so I mean we were talking about, you know, tech, and innovation, helping, you know, changing the scenario, but then how do you think this can empower women, especially, you know, using technology or using bringing in this design or innovation elements into what they work on a day-to-day basis, so how do you think there is something, some change that can happen in the legal sector, especially paper memo.

Meghana Srinivas :- I think you had sent me that article Alice Stephenson where she said only two percent of lawyers believe there's true equality in the industry and unfortunately I feel that is a sentiment shared by you know a lot of people who are not male across industries, unfortunately, I think we all start with such great hopes that the pandemic would bridge this divide because we're like okay great you know now women have flexible working schedules they can work from home things like that but it just became a double bind the caregiving duties as well as the office responsibilities things like that have caused India's major drop-off for the very first time and there's across urban and rural India nothing has been spared women still have very little internet access even in urban cities only about six women have like consistent internet access out of the and urban India is just two or three so all of these in some ways means that tech is widening the gap not bridging the gap and what the good news is that I'm seeing a lot of growth in India's especially philanthropic efforts to try to tackle this so everybody from social alpha to Omidyar is having a vertical for gender tech they're having a vertical for the next half billion and how you're going to get there.
I think as long as we have solutions that are consistently building for women and for including this is a great idea but tech is again it's it depends on the operator's mindset it depends on the builder's mindset so because the status quo is already this existing divide tech is also you know sort of furthering amplifying that divide as i say I don't have answers for this I think more is what I'm thinking of these days is there's so many off-ramps for women say for pregnancy or covert caregiving family things like that but what are the on-ramps for women so we have a bunch of these larger MNCs that are saying okay you can come back after a five-year break we will upskill you after a seven-year break i think these are steps in the direction I also see that start-ups are sponsoring a lot of women participants in these coding boot camps because in the end development work you can do from anywhere if you have a laptop and a wi-fi connection that's also a great way to bridge the gap because now women can do higher-paying work in a shorter time with flexibility from wherever they want and remote rules so these are some ways and of course as you see these are more mostly related to urban India I'm not sure if you think of the workforce outside of tech how that would work but there's also a good place to start because now we only see off-ramps, but we're not seeing anybody proactively building on-ramps back into the carrier trajectory, and we all know that every year you're out of the workforce means like so much lifetime losses and earnings, , lifetime loss of things like promotion, all of that , and then the vicious cycle just continues because then you will be stuck in an inflexible job, you will not be able to take care of your household then you might drop out if your partner is earning enough, , if you're interested in looking more at this i would recommend reading this book that i just finished, it's called desperately seeking Shahrukh i know the title can be a bit off-putting

I've never been a fan of his honesty but , i think it was an excellent glimpse into how the economy is a very emotional and ethical thing , and how women opting out of this economy is really hurting India's GDP and growth overall around the world, like if you see countries that are our neighbours, everybody from from Bhutan to Sri Lanka has much higher women's labour participation than in India now so it's a very urgent problem I think the capital is also coming in to try to fix it you know and if any of you have ideas for how we can start i mean I would love to hear it, but now I think you know it's just a conversation it's just happening theoretically but i honestly know personally 10 people who drop out of very high pace start-ups because have to take care of their parents or they had a child who had special needs things like that it was just impossible to do that with 90 hours a week of start-up work and you you have to understand like it's like you're pushed to the edge no sort of fabric can take care of all of this unless you have a lot of privilege, so I think it's a systemic problem, don't have the answers but I do think people are asking the questions I think another thing also to understand is that diversity you know, it's not the solution also to the problem in some ways, because diversity is just a numbers game like I really like this analogy somebody had said where they're like you know diversity is getting an invitation to the dance equity is going and attending the dance and feeling like a part of the group and inclusion is dancing as if nobody's watching because now you're no longer the only woman in the room you're no longer the only you're having a good time and you're ready to not be self-conscious I think the problem now is a lot of women are the only women in the boardroom they are the only CXO the partner so things like that are also making it very hard for them to stay when other things get tough so I think we also have to look at the design of companies where we look at the design of leadership as it exists today so that more women can feel included and not just as a diversity statistic that we have one person here who is not a man so we are very diverse yeah these are all bigger questions to think about.

Yavanika Shah:-, we can ask one more question if anybody has something to say.

Meghana Srinivas:- I also want to you know if we are still thinking of a question I want to just quickly share one more thing we are rolling out for international women's day, I think all of you might be aware that the theme this year is women providing healing promoting hope so there's a lot around caregivers and you know first responders doing the pandemic but there were also some cons to this because as we also during you know the workplace in the home becoming the same space home is not a safe space for everybody so even I trust him we felt very helpless because a lot of the calls we were getting stopped being just posh complaints and became more about domestic violence complaints so we partnered with an NGO called Saahas to build a free of charge chatbot so I'm just going to show it to you quickly here it's on WhatsApp.

Very simple this is what it is it's called a trust bot so I can just share the link with all of you you can just go talk to it if you just say hello it'll be like I'm transport powered by trusted it'll give a trigger warning if you say yes, it'll tell you about safety at work, which is if I need to report a posh complaint to let's say I'm a freelancer, or a domestic worker whatever where can I go so it will give you all the information around that, and if you want to report domestic violence then it will give you information about that as well, and we have two versions of this one is if it's an emergency posh SOS or posh menu. I'll also just show you how it looks for the domestic violence piece, so if I say DV sos then it'll give me the whole workflow let's say I know somebody who needs certain , help and I can go ahead and do that and yeah for example if I know somebody needs medical help and I have no idea what to do then I can go ahead and you can see it's very simple it's very visual you can these are all numbers that we have checked and verified unfortunately a lot of information that's online is outdated it's not something that you can use all the time but we have worked with Saahas on this you can also access the medical health helplines you can think about what happens you can find shelters to go and get a meal to stay overnight but this is one thing that if all of you could spread in your circles you can also find this link on our website but I'll just drop the thing in the chart below if you could again as I say completely free of charge and things like that but if you could spread this amongst your communities that would be great.

Yavanika Shah: - Okay so does anybody have any questions?
I guess no, so it's time then, thank you so much, Meghana, it was wonderful connecting to you, understanding what trusting does and having this candid conversation with you thank you for taking out time for us and seeing you all the best.

Meghana Srinivas:- Thank you, Bye !!!
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