Ensuring Diversity and Inclusivity through Legal Compliance with ‘UNGENDER’

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About the Company

Ungender is an advisory firm dealing in compliance of gender based laws affecting workplaces. The primary focus is aligned with gender based discrimination and complexities arising from laws such as Sexual harassment of Women at Workplaces Act, 2013 and Maternity Benefit Amendment.

WHAT IGNITED THE SPARK IN YOU TO START UNGENDER?

There was never an intention to start a business, but instead to create solutions. The root of the work being done is to find sustainable and salable solutions to the basic needs of masses in the society with respect to access to justice, social inclusion and gender based violence/discrimination.

Which college/university did you choose to complete your studies?

I was brought up in Philippines and completed my Bachelors in Computer Science from AMA Computer University and Master in Management from University of Asia and the Pacific.

WHAT ARE THE TOP THREE ADVICE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG GRADUATES WHO ASPIRE TO BECOME ENTREPRENEURS?

1. Pick one thing: fame, money, power or impact and keep that as a priority. Rest of them will follow but you must stick to your choice.

2. Combine your work and values with your personal belief. This way, you will never feel the need to take a break to get away from your work.

3. You can have it all – personal life and professional success. Do not pick one at the cost of other.

WHAT IS YOUR CORE PRODUCT OR SERVICE?

At Ungender, the focus remains on simplification and implementation of gender based laws such as sexual harassment at workplace and maternity benefit. The foundation- Initiatives for Inclusion Foundation, with a backbone of social inclusion, focuses on three aspects – access to justice through legal aid and education, skill building for financial inclusion to facilitate sustainable living, and lastly, mentoring and alternate forms of education to develop social leaders.

WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING RELATED WITH YOUR BUSINESS?

Impact. Each and every single action is driven by that essence. If there is no impact in contributing towards social inclusion and the three pillars, then it is not executed.

Second one is “360 degree” approach for the initiatives. For example, with respect to the implementation of laws such as sexual harassment at workplace laws, the work which started from creating economically feasible implementation products (tech based), expanded to capacity building initiatives through introduction of professional qualification of industry practitioners in this field. It further expanded to assessing the state of implementation from the government’s side and providing the support needed by them towards making implementation possible at ground level. Mass level awareness and aids are given through helpline services and collaboration with lawyers network on ground.

When there is a problem, there is no single solution, you just gotta keep digging deeper and keep figuring out ways to cross the hurdle towards your objective.

HOW DO YOU DO MARKETING ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS? WHAT HAS BEEN THE SUCCESSFUL FORM OF MARKETING?

Online marketing through target group content marketing has worked well for us so far. Focus has remained on creating intelligence in the field and ensuring the insights are unique so the clients recognize this “expertise”.

CHALLENGES ARE BUNDLED UP ALONG ALL VENTURES, WHAT SORT OF CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE? HOW DID YOU MANAGE UPS AND DOWNS IN ROLLER COASTER RIDE?

The compliance and advisory industry on gender based laws is not a mature and recognized industry. It is very niche with the providers as well as the clientele being at a loss of clarity to identify “need” of such services and “quality standards” for the service providers. It will be another decade or so before a clarity of need and quality standard will form eventually giving rise to demand.

WHO IS YOUR MENTOR OR ROLE MODEL?

There is an image in my head of a better version of myself at every stage. Even if I keep chasing it as an ideal, I have enough work to do. However, there are certain qualities that I would like to develop. Hopefully, someday, I shall become what I seek for myself as an individual, daughter, woman and human of this planet.

WHAT ARE THE FACTORS YOU KEEP IN MIND WHILE HIRING THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Over the past decade, I have fiddled with a lot of primary ingredient – should I hire someone who is passionate about the cause, or someone who has the right skills and knowledge, or those who thought that the work is noble and different, even for people who had the balance of both eventually did not last long. So irrespective of any other attribute, I first need to understand if the individual has realized what they want to do in their life, the larger purpose, and have spent time cultivating knowledge and skills towards that. The same exercise that I did for myself, and continue doing it again and again.

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS FOR YOU? HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?

Living it one day at a time with a single theme that revolves around good health, impact work and family.

WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON COMPETITORS?

Very healthy 🙂 Three years ago, when my clients started asking me to take up the role of external member on board of Internal Committees, I realized that there is a dearth of experts in this field. With my earlier venture in legal education, I proposed my partners to start a professional certification to create these experts and proposed it to one of the top ranking law school in the country – National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. The same course has created several organizations and experts who now run their own consultancies and NGOs in this field of sexual harassment at workplace laws. Some can say that we created our own competitors. We say, we created the ecosystem.

BIGGEST RISK YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN? HOW DID YOU MANAGE THAT RISK FACTOR?

First- Venturing into the world of legal education and services with no legal education background. Even till today (despite being one of the experts in the field of sexual harassment at workplaces laws), I get questioned for not having a law degree to work in this field. There was a time (in my earlier startup which is into legal education), when I used to head sales and customer acquisition – which required talking to students, entrepreneurs, businessmen, bureaucrats, lawyers and advising them on continuing need to add a professional legal element to it. The hardest were lawyers, and I managed that too. I used to read a lot, and ask a lot of questions to my business partners. The key was the same – while I was convincing them on the need for their continuous learning, I could not not include that as a mantra for myself.

Second risk was when I decided to move out of my first business venture (iPleaders) and build a new one from scratch again. Five years ago, the reason to enter the world of legalities was because of my own search for legal knowledge and affordable services. While the one is getting executed through my first venture, which my partners are beautifully growing, the need for affordable legal services is what started occupying my mind again. So I asked my partners’ leave to let me build two setups again – one for gender based laws and other for affordable legal aid and services.

WHICH IS THE MOST INSPIRING BOOK FOR YOU? OR EITHER WAY ROUND, WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?

No single book as favorite but I usually stick to books which make me realize the importance of limited time on my hands, figure out ways to do justice to work and my loved ones, and keep chasing the ultimate version of ones self.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR COMPANY CULTURE?

Still in the making, continuously evolving. However, leaderships’s value alignment with individual profile and personal aspirations remain as the core. This drives individuals to perform better in their own eyes with no need for constant monitoring.

WHAT SACRIFICES YOU HAD TO MAKE TO BE AN SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR?

None.

IF YOU HAD GOT THE CHANCE TO START THE CARRIER AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?

Find mentors at a very early age for personal development and professional guidance.

HOW LONG DO YOU STICK WITH AN IDEA BEFORE GIVING UP?

No giving up without attempting it. That is the only reality check.

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