Serein

Beyond Biases – Designing For Inclusion

Mohit Chelani

- June 25, 2020

Biases are innate to human behaviour, even when an individual is being absolutely objective the essence of bias is not absent. While it being true that biases cannot be negated but they certainly can be dealt with through conscious and consistent interventions.

A certain bias that is reflected in society is that towards a community deprived for access to opportunities and support. Take your pick even amidst the most mature of our societies, one can without much effort find the presence of distress or void across certain communities based on class, caste, gender, or ability. Although it is not a blog to paint a bleak picture, but it is important the gap is highlighted and acknowledged to initiate repair.

It is an interesting time to be alive, witnessing technology playing a pivotal role of an enabler to power access for an egalitarian take on opportunity, yet the spirit of human intervention can’t be ignored to instigate the conversations and practices of Inclusion. The work done across societies, corporations and even to some extent the states has been phenomenal in acknowledging the gap and advocating inclusion – from having more women in leadership positions, equal opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (PwD), acknowledgement and support towards the Me Too, Black Lives Matter and other movements have only been a source of inspiration to mark the testimony for a society moving towards greater inclusion, but to claim victory would be a bit far-fetched as an inclusive world would always be a pursuit than a destination and we certainly have a long way further.

In my experiences of designing inclusive products and practices, the element of practising empathy and exercising a feedback loop have been quintessential approaches towards effective outcomes. Although it is our inferences that are more significant than our work but still let me just provide a brief on our work to make the conversations more contextual. Our company designs and distributes assistive devices around navigation and learning needs for PwDs. From inception to date, our pursuit of inclusive assistance has found multiple instances of bias being exercised to the extent that we had to iterate our product 12 times before our launch. Although the eventual ones were more to boost effectiveness, but the initial ones were all plagued with biases around the actual needs of visually impaired people seeking assistance. Truth be told, we found it redundant to understand the needs of Persons with Disabilities, as they felt so apparent, but our myths got busted when we offered our first prototype for user testing. We found that most of the visually impaired people encounter blindness after the age of 35, majorly due to absence of care around cataract and other ophthalmic concerns, so the product beyond ranking high on the effectiveness metric also needed the essence of simplicity in operation and affordability. Now, the blind people use a fairly simplistic and affordable device for navigation called the white cane then why one needs to innovate around a fairly effective solution. The problem as always lied in nuance, although a white cane offers a great guide for knee and below obstacles but left the blind person stranded when they needed to detect hanging obstacles like tree branches, a hanging sign board or an open window. To facilitate a smooth transition, the new device had to borrow the simplicity and effectiveness of a white cane but at the same time integrate tech to capture knee and above obstacles while keeping the product affordable. In our endeavours of building a product for an inclusive world, we realized that it is our innate biases that we need to dispense, to understand the true needs of PwDs and then solve for that. What I am trying to highlight is the fact that our prejudices impact our thinking in very subtle ways therefore the arbitrations with biases have to be conscious and consistent.

What we need to understand is although the mindset for inclusion can have resemblances across different societies or corporations, the approach has to be customised on a case to case basis. There is a lot of contexts that have to be factored in while designing inclusive solutions may it be in the form of practising D&I from a resource onboarding perspective or designing products for the differently-abled community. There have been pioneers in the corporate ecosystem who have led the path for inclusion by example – Accenture, Shell, Tata Group, IBM, EY but the learnings, adaptability and experiences of each organization in their pursuit to inclusion would be different. Again, the element of practising empathy and support become quintessential steps towards inclusion while the policies and practices can find overlap from one organization to another, but the mechanics of implementation will require consistent tweaking based on the feedback loop. 

Towards the end, I would like to leave you with these great lines by Muhammad Ali “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”


About the Author

Mohit is an inclusion activist and works for an idea to provide effective yet affordable assistive devices for persons with disabilities. One can reach out to him at camohitchelani@gmail.com.

Stay updated with perspectives from leading experts

Scroll to Top
The Ultimate DEI SaaS Tool

DEI measurement and benchmarking

Inclusive recruitment strategy

Interactive courses

Diversity calendar

Inclusion game

Culture survey

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Unconscious bias awareness

LGBTQ inclusion

Psychological safety

Inclusive leadership

Workplace equity index

Gender advancement scale

DEI roadmap

DEI policy drafting

Anti-harassment 

PoSH compliance

Sexual harassment awareness

Anti-discrimination

Anti-bullying

Code of conduct

Compliance policy drafting

Bystander intervention

Respect at work

Legal insights

Simplified compliance information about anti-sexual harassment, anti-discrimination, PoSH, and more

Blogs

Download whitepapers, industry DEI reports, and toolkits

Reports

Download whitepapers, industry DEI reports, and toolkits

Creatives

Use Serein’s posters and videos to engage your employees

Customers

See how industry leaders partner with Serein to achieve their DEI goals

Team

Meet our team of experts designing DEI solutions just for you

Siri Prasad

Safety and PoSH Expert

Siri Prasad is a Safety and PoSH Expert at Serein and serves as an External Member of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for Serein’s clients. Her work is not limited to, but includes advising in legal procedures, best practices for safe work cultures, and reviewing of PoSH policies and labor law compliance.

Siri is a Gold Medallist and holds a BBA, LLB (Hons.) from Christ University and a Masters in Science (International Employment Relations) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she also served as the EDI Officer.

Thejaswini CA

LMS Platform Associate

Thejaswini is responsible for the operations and maintenance of Serein’s in-house e-learning platform. She assists customers to deliver learning content and assess employee engagement through Serein’s tracking system. 

Thejaswini is also engaged with finance and other operations to ensure Serein’s 500+ long-term partners are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law.

Thejaswini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Application from Field Marshal KM Cariappa College, Kodagu.

Dr. Ishani Roy

Founder and CEO

Ishani founded Serein to provide a data and research-based approach to solving DEI challenges at the workplace. She advises company leaders, startup founders, and venture capital firms on industry best practices to increase diversity and design a DEI roadmap.

Ishani is a recipient of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 2023 for the global impact of her work in the DEI space.

Before founding Serein, Ishani was a scientist at GE Research working in the Aerospace Lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University on developing mathematical models to solve Astrophysics problems. She did her Post-doctoral studies at the University of Oxford and St. Thomas Hospital in Biomathematics.

Chryslynn D’Costa

Co-founder and CPO |

Chryslynn leads the product development of Serein’s DEI SaaS tool. She designs learning content and strategic insights for companies to measure their DEI growth, and achieve bias-free recruitment and psychological safety.

Chryslynn is a regular columnist with publications like ‘LiveMint’ and ‘The Hindu’ where she writes about unconscious bias, prevention of sexual harassment, and company culture.

Before Serein, she was a Gandhi Fellow working in rural Rajasthan to address educational leadership and gender equity in government schools. She graduated from Azim Premji University in Bangalore with a Master’s in Education where she specialised in gender and sexuality education.

Bianca D’Costa

Head of PoSH: India, Global

Bianca leads the compliance partnerships and workshops on anti-sexual harassment, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. She has 100+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace.

Bianca designs gamified learning modules for a unique and impactful learner experience on topics like gender inclusion, PwD inclusion, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and regional inclusion among others. 

Before Serein, Bianca worked in hospitality for 5 years with Emirates Airlines. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai. She is presently pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender and Sexuality in Global Politics from SOAS University of London.

Aparna Pandurangan

Head of Operations

Aparna is leading the finance and operations at Serein. She has also been responsible for Serein’s online platform, customer management, and marketing.

She works closely with Serein’s 500+ long-term partners to ensure they are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law. Aparna is a workshop facilitator on topics like the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace in languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

Aparna Pandurangan holds a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Anna University, Chennai. 

Faakirah Irfan

Head of Legal

Faakirah is a legal professional and expert facilitator on topics like anti-sexual harassment, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. Faakirah has conducted 100+ training sessions on the prevention of sexual harassment for employees and internal committee members.

She has 150+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace. Her legal research at Serein includes policy analysis, human rights, women’s rights, and document drafting.

Faakirah is an experienced legal professional. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in law with a focus on women’s rights and policy analysis from the University of Kashmir. She holds a Master of Law degree specializing in alternative dispute resolution from O.P Jindal School of Law.

Dr. Ruchika Sharma

Guest Consultant: Gender

Ruchika assists with research and facilitation of sessions on domestic violence, sexual harassment, employee well-being, and women’s leadership. She is a feature writer for Serein’s blogs where she writes about gender, women’s history, domestic violence, and sexual harassment awareness in the workplace.

Ruchika is a published author with books like ‘Concubinage, Race and Law in Early Colonial Bengal: Bequeathing Intimacy, Servicing the Empire’ published by Routledge, Taylor, and Francis publications. She has been teaching History at the University of Delhi for over a decade. She has a Ph.D. in History from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Arathi Kannan

Head of DEI: India, Global

Arathi leads the design and execution of DEI measurement tools for global partners. These include Serein’s Diversity Index, the scope of unconscious bias in recruitment and promotions, and the scope of unconscious bias in external messaging. 

She has also designed a standardized tool to review company policies and products through an inclusion lens. Arathi leads workshops on inclusion, unconscious bias, domestic violence, mental health, and well-being. 

Arathi is a published researcher with Master’s degrees in Applied Psychology and Criminology from Bond University, Australia. Her experience includes working with people from different backgrounds, including refugee groups.

Rhea D’Silva

Designer

Rhea is the aesthetic and creative eye behind Serein’s marketing and sales collateral. She manages website content and social media content calendar. She works closely with Serein’s content experts to design catchy invites, toolkits, and company culture reports.

Rhea creates animated content for Serein’s learning platform. She is focused on understanding the user’s need for engagement and learning to create impactful content. 

Rhea holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai where she majored in advertising.

Aseem Deuskar

Inclusive Workspace Architect

LinkedIn

Aseem is an Inclusive Workspace Architect dedicated to reshaping workplace diversity and accessibility. He is skilled in conducting comprehensive accessibility audits and implementing inclusive design solutions.


Aseem is passionate about creating environments that foster equal opportunities

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

 

Bhavini Pant

Safety and PoSH expert

Bhavini serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in industries like education, healthcare, IT, Pharma, and more. She has 70+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace and supporting partner organizations on the legal procedure and best practices for workplace safety.

Before Serein, Bhavini worked as an archivist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and as an editorial assistant for IIT Bombay’s PR and Alumni Associations department.

She has a Master’s degree in Education from Azim Premji University where she worked extensively with the management on anti-sexual harassment legal implementation. Her work involved the interpretation of the law in a university as a workplace and an educational institution for adults. 

Rishab Prasad

DEI Specialist

Rishab is passionate about creating long-term partnerships with Serein’s customers. He is responsible for marketing, operations, customer onboarding, contract writing, and relationship building. Rishab uses his directing and filmmaking skills to design engaging content for Serein’s social media platforms.

Rishab holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with Honours from CHRIST University, Bangalore. He has directed more than nine short films on topics like stigmas of menstruation, widowhood, and adoption.

Kirtika N

Safety and PoSH expert

Kirtika is an expert speaker and workshop facilitator on topics like sexual harassment awareness, bystander intervention, and anti-harassment redressal mechanisms. She has developed learning content for investigating committees on topics like witness cooperation in a workplace sexual harassment inquiry proceeding. 

Kirtika serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in fintech, healthcare, business management, gaming, and more. She has 50+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations at the workplace and supporting partner organisations on legal procedure and best practices.

She has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Montfort College, Bengaluru, and has experience working as a trainee counselor.

Sharanya Venkataraghavan

Safety and PoSH expert

Sharanya serves as a PoSH external member for 15+ companies in e-commerce, fintech, healthcare, SaaS, and more. She supports partner organisations on legal procedures and best practices to build safe work cultures.

She has been involved in the review of PoSH policies, labour law compliances, and research regarding the risk of secondary victimisation of complainants under the PoSH Act.

Sharanya graduated with BBA, LLB (Hons.) degree from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She has experience in PoSH and employment law with notable law firms like Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co., J. Sagar and Associates, among others.

Nandini Abraham

Statistical Analyst

Nandini conducts extensive industry-specific research on DEI trends in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. Nandini is responsible for developing statistical models for DEI assessment on Serein’s DEI SaaS Tool. She designs measurement tools for DEI benchmarking, inclusion assessments, and employee experience surveys.

Nandini is passionate about creating engaging and impactful reports, toolkits, and playbooks for Serein’s customers.

Nandini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Mathematics & Statistics from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore.

Nithya R

HR and Compliance Lead

Nithya drives operational excellence within the HR function. She ensures that Serein maintains the highest standards of HR practices and ethical conduct. Her role extends beyond traditional HR responsibilities as she also serves as an External Member of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for Serein’s clients, specialising in preventing workplace harassment through the PoSH vertical.

Nithya has graduated in Commerce from the University of Lucknow and has rich experience in hiring and retaining the best talents in the industry with companies like BukuWarung and Belong.co.

Sri Padmavathi C

Finance Consultant

LinkedIn

Sri Padmavathi C specialises in providing accounting consulting services to companies. She helps in assisting & maintaining Serein’s Books of Accounts, GST, TDS, PT filing, financial statements preparation & audit review.
 
She holds an MBA with Finance Specialisation from Annamalai University, and has also has done CA articleship under CA Tom Joseph’s guidance.

Anisha Debnath

PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator

As a PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator, Anisha is primarily responsible for conducting sessions and facilitating conversations that enable building of safe and inclusive workplaces for all. Anisha also undertakes in-depth research into various Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues that plague our work cultures today. All of this research goes into designing bespoke sessions and curating interactive learning experiences for several of Serein’s partners. 

Anisha has a background in History, especially in the history of gender and early feminism in colonial South Asia. 

Anisha has a Bachelor’s degree in History (Hons.) from Gargi College, University of Delhi. She has also studied for an MPhil in World History from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Subscribe to Serein research

Please fill in your contact details

Tell us which reports to send you