Unwinding Diversity

Nikita Agnihotri

- June 12, 2020

People from all over the world are joining hands to extend support and express their feelings for Black Lives Matter movement. As more and more protesters crowd the streets of the United states, it is our responsibility to call out systemic racism prevalent across the globe. In these times of distress, Diversity, and Inclusion (D&I) must dominate the dialogue to gauge where we currently stand. But before we even begin to evaluate our current situation, let us understand what diversity actually means… 

Diversity is all around us. If you look at our natural surroundings, you will start noticing how each component, each atom, each particle that forms this universe, no matter big or small, plays a critical function to maintain ecological balance. But can we safely assume that only one species can perform all the vital functions in our ecosystem? 

“Not only is the world more complex than we think it is, the world is more complex than we are able to think it is.” – David Ehrenfeld

Just like our biodiversity, no two individuals you meet will have the same role in your life. Similarly, organizations in today’s world need to start valuing the uniqueness each employee brings to their workplace. However, most of the organizations misunderstand promoting diversity with achieving gender balance in their workforce. 

We, at Serein, believe that diversity goes way beyond gender. It signifies embracing differences and enabling people from diverse backgrounds by giving them access to opportunities to contribute their part and make their voices heard without any fear of stigmatization. 

Creating a diverse workforce is only one part of the equation, organizations need to build an inclusive workplace to make sure that the diverse employees work well together . Crossing the bridge from diversity to inclusion requires acknowledging that structural and systemic biases exist, and that these factors will not vanish just by recruiting employees from diverse backgrounds. An inclusive workplace values an individual’s identity and encourages the relationship between cultural identity and work (Puritty et. al, 2017). Closer employees are to their authentic selves, the more productive and committed they are at work.

We all are driven by our culture while taking decisions, likewise, people around us evaluate our actions based on their cultures. This may give birth to unintentional misunderstandings. This is especially significant to address in today’s virtual work set-up and primarily in an Indian work setting where diversity is not just limited to inheritance or class/caste divisions, but it also encompasses a diversity of languages, cultures, choice of livelihoods, careers, knowledge systems, values, beliefs, and practices. Another challenge we face is social exclusion of our rich diversity in almost every industry. This is further widened owing to limited access to education and skills and consequently few opportunities for employment to some marginalized communities. To resolve this, our higher education must reflect the richness of this diversity by being socially inclusive (UNESCO, 2018). Institutional strategies should focus on arresting this loss of our young talented individuals which could lead to other deprivations by limiting their access to the good life or the means to acquire it (Sen, 2000)

Even with an intrinsically motivated effort to build inclusive workplaces, organizations in India fall short at the execution level. For instance, there are policies such as flexible working hours and remote work, but such policies are associated with implicit biases observed when employees who use these options are bracketed in stereotypes. To demonstrate true inclusion, companies need to sensitize supervisors, leaders and every other entity in the organization to the point where every work policy created to accommodate and integrate unique identities employees bring to work is seen as an imperative for inclusive culture rather than as a favour to a section of employees belonging to marginalized communities.

It is time to create space for uncomfortable conversations to develop inclusive leaders and teams. However, it should be noted that D & I is not achieved by giving ‘freedom of speech’ to all, its understanding goes much deeper than that. It means making everyone welcome to express their opinion but discouraging expression that promotes exclusion at the same time.

Although, there is no single antidote that all kinds of industries can use to achieve an inclusive work environment. Below are some general insights and best practices for inclusive workplaces.

For Organizations:

  • Close the gap between theory and practice: make inclusion a fabric intricately woven within your organizations culture
  • Have an unified definition of ‘inclusion’ and be vocal about it
  • Before taking any people related decision answer: Who does not feel like they belong?
  • Create a safe space for having uncomfortable conversations to resolve conflicts
  • Be compassionate while listening to your employee’s issues
  • Do not underestimate the importance of demographic diversity by justifying ‘diversity of thought’ amongst your board members or Internal Committee
  • Following ‘freedom of speech’ for all may encourage bullying and promote exclusion. Keep these biases in check. 

For Educational Institutions: 

  • The recruitment policy for elementary teachers should promote an increased intake of teachers from historically excluded groups such as women, Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes, religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities, etc. (UNESCO, 2018):
    • Maintaining diversity in the teacher workforce is considered crucial to create inclusive schools. 
    • Diverse teachers can serve as powerful role models for diverse students, potentially motivating them to strive further in their achievements. 

Key takeaways:

  • Diversity is not just about achieving gender balance at workplace
  • Diversity is incomplete without adding Inclusion to the equation
  • Aim to integrate multiple identities individuals bring to work such as: racial, cultural, ethnic, gender, socio-economic class, generational, race, sexual orientation, education, disability, mental health, citizenship status 
  • Everyone must feel valued, listened to, and respected in the organization without stigma or stereotypes
  • Focused approach to create educational opportunities for individuals belonging to marginalized communities
  • Higher education must reflect the diversity of Indian society by being socially inclusive

About Serein

Serein Inc is an end to end service partner for the implementation of gender awareness, diversity, inclusion and Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) legal compliance. We partner with companies on case redressal and policies to proactively build an inclusive and safer work cultures and diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias trainings face-to-face or virtually. For more details on diversity, inclusion and prevention of sexual harassment (POSH )training (in India, South East Asia and the US) reach out to

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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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Rhea D’Silva


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.

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.

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.

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.

Faakirah Junaid Rafiquee

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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