Our CEO, Meghana, spoke to @Project_Kal about what drives her, how the TrustIn solution was born, and our learnings around enabling social impact at scale.
You can find the interview here: https://bit.ly/2MnrVYW
Tell us about your background. What motivates you? Why do you do what you do?
I was lucky to grow up with two grandfathers who educated themselves out of rural India and extreme poverty. Accessing education was always the biggest thing they stressed upon, and their achievements and example deeply impacted my worldview. It forged my conviction that the accident of birth should not determine one’s destiny, and that the greatest use of my privilege would be to pay it forward to others less lucky than I. Whether or not the latter wanted to leverage opportunities was their choice, but not having equitable access to choices was something I couldn’t condone.
Thanks to them, I believe co-creating a more equitable world is not merely a worthwhile dream but our moral responsibility, given the scientific and technological strides we’ve made. To this end, I’m passionate about building capacity in individuals, teams, and organizations towards sustainable and positive impact, and this has been the bedrock for my career choices.
I graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Molecular Biology and Media Studies, and a deeper commitment to social justice thanks to the like-minded community I found there. I then spent five years in the social impact space, primarily with Teach For India. I learned a lot from working with under resourced communities, and while I was deeply inspired by the impact one could have on people’s lives, I grew impatient with the people-dependent growth model, and began exploring how tech can enable impact to scale. In India, the impact and tech worlds tend to be fairly skeptical of each other; but effectively harnessing the power of tech can meaningfully change the status quo. Wanting to explore this more deeply, I transitioned and led the program at The CoWrks Foundry, an innovative accelerator for early stage tech companies.
When India’s #MeToo movement happened, due to a strong resonance with its major themes- workplace safety, gender equity, equitable access to justice- I began researching how technology could solve for safety at scale, and speaking to affected stakeholders- survivors, lawyers, POSH experts, activists, Internal Committee members. Finding the examples of Project Callisto in the US, and Everyday Sexism in the UK, was deeply inspiring and exposed the glaring whitespace around this problem in Asia/ India. This is how the TrustIn solution was born.
What does TrustIn do, and why?
At TrustIn, we envision a world where people feel safe and empowered to pursue their goals. And we know this sense of safety begins with the workplace- the company or college campus- where we spend a majority of our time. We’re forging a meaningful path towards this with a secure, sensitive legal tech system to effectively address workplace misconduct.
The problem we are addressing is pervasive and pressing. India is ranked the world’s most dangerous country for women, and surveys reveal only 20% survivors of workplace misconduct report their experience, 80% of them quit within two years, and half of all Internal Committees- vested with the powers of a civil court to adjudicate workplace complaints- are not equipped for their role. Last year, only 23500 cases of workplace harassment or abuse were formally reported in India, which has a population of over 1billion people. While the 2018 #MeToo and #TimesUp movements sparked this conversation and resulted in a surge of training and sensitization across the country, employees’ higher awareness of their rights has not translated into higher access of those rights. This is because the primary barriers to complaint escalation- such as fear, stigma, retaliation, reputational damage- remain unresolved.
On the other side of the equation, while upholding safety, labor, civil, and service laws at the workplace is an imperative for organizations, the current human-centric grievance redressal systems have some glaring gaps. In the case of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) legal implementation, even with the best of intentions, Internal Committees of companies are often untrained and unsure of their verdict, stretched for time, and run the risk of being sued for their noncompliance with a complex, opaque legal process. Economic loss for large Indian companies has ranged from $0.3–5M, with legal liability and loss of business licenses in cases of noncompliance.
Our solution is an integrated, contextual system that removes barriers to complaint reporting and adjudication efficiency. With in-built encryption and legal compliance, we manage case workflows with paperless, automated documentation and communication systems for the Internal Committee. Our AI engine provides the latter with legal upskilling, verdict recommendations, and smart report generation.
We support employees to escalate complaints and access support resources in a trauma informed manner, protect their identifying information, and provide real time updates to both complainants and respondents at each stage of the process. This helps companies implement a culture of safety, confidentiality, and compliance, while also integrating unbiased support structures that enable all employees to educate, escalate, and advocate for themselves.
Our goal is to facilitate a culture where TrustIn no longer needs to exist- where everyone can access their rights, and close the justice loop- in ways that are fair and effective.
Any tips for young social entrepreneurs?
1. To work in the impact space, you have to get your hands dirty. Get down in the trenches- as a volunteer or worker- and spend as much time as you can with the stakeholders/ users of your solution. A practical understanding of their reality and issues will help you build better. 2. On a related note, get your product/ solution out the gate as soon as you can, and keep adding features and evolving based on feedback. It’s easy for us to assume we know the needs of our end beneficiaries, but we won’t truly know if we’re benefiting them until we see them engage with our interventions. 3. Measuring your impact is critical from day one! Steer clear of vanity metrics and consistently listen to what the data- both qualitative and quantitative- is really telling you.