Advocate Devika Singhis the co-founder of Cohere Consultants and is the founder of Cohere Communities, an NGO working in on gender based discrimination in workspaces.

She is a registered practitioner with the Bar Council of India and on the rolls of solicitors of England and Wales. She holds an LLM from Kings College London for which she was awarded a full scholarship by the DFID, UK. She is shortly going to be awarded a doctorate by the VU University, Netherlands.

Devika led the Gender Rights, Gender based Violence & Law Enforcement Domain at the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. In this position of Senior Project Advisor, she had the opportunity and responsibility to aid the drafting and passage of the Act on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Devika has the unmatched distinction of advising on 1100+ POSH inquiries since the subject law came into effect. She brings to the table not only her legal expertise but also her credentials as an NGO founder who trains other NGO’s and in fact even acts as their external member. She has done a lot of social work and provides pro bono advice to women in distress on a daily basis.

However, COHERE is more than just the law or the Act. As a consultant platform, COHERE brings together the diverse skill sets of legal, medical, gender and media and communication consultants. The consultants provide guidance on legal compliance, risk management and hazard minimization to organizations with an assurance of confidentiality and integrity.

Devika’s journey:

Devika started her legal career more than 15 years ago as a corporate lawyer with Swarup and Co., New Delhi. Her forte was infrastructure and labour. She then went on to led a team and pioneer, led and manage India’s first legal practice on gender discrimination with Kochhar& Co.

She was a voluntary trainer for the RCSHA and engaged actively on developing law for PLWAs and the LGBT Community. She has conducted workshops for the Indian Army on HIV and the law when it was in its most nascent stages.

Devika’s earlier legal practice concentrated on aspects of 'cure', i.e., supporting corporates in court cases and committee proceedings in line with the Vishaka Directives. However, she soon realized that the existing legal regime lacked depth and largely due lack of information and understanding, myths abounded leading to “re-action in fear” by corporates, which usually hurt not only the interests of the corporate’s workers but also its organizational interests. Inadequate understanding often also led to misinformed HR placing barriers on women participation in workplaces and inimical coworker relationships.

With her training in gender, she began to design training and awareness modules on sexual harassment and discrimination at work and started conducting workshops and seminars for lawyers, regulators, peer educators, HR personnel and corporate management. At present the modules developed by her are being utilized by the National Labour Institute of the Ministry of Labour and Employment where she is a guest faculty.

She moved from corporate practice to head the Gender Rights, Gender Based Violence & law Enforcement Domain of the National Misision for Empowerment of Women, MoWCD, GOI where she was the subject expert on the drafting process for the laws on POSH, POCSO and the amendments to the Indian Penal Code apart from evolving law on dowry, trafficking and maternity.

Devika has conducted workshops for various industrial and commercial establishments, UNODC, CII, FICCI international NGO's such as PRIA and RCSHA. She has also trained employers, CEO’s, HR and ER led, Legal heads, ICC members, labour officers, trade union members, ASHA and anganwaadi workers, domestic workers and also police officers in both paid and voluntary workshops.

While setting up her niche practice in this field, Devika embarked on extensive legal research and has created a legal database on all existing case laws relevant to gender discrimination and harassment in India. She was a consultant to ILO’s decent work team in Delhi & led a research team in conducting seminal research on sexual harassment in the workplace in 12 Indian states. She has also advised the ILO and the Ministry of Labour and Employment on appellate mechanisms under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, prohibition &Redressal) Act, 2013.

Devika has also advised the Ministry of Women and Child development and the Ministry of Labour and Employment (GOI) on the amendments to maternity laws in India. Currently, she is conducting a rapid assessment and impact study for the Government of india on the revised law on maternity.

Her endeavor is to promote gender friendly workplaces in which all sexes co-exist and work cohesively without any perception of threat. She navigates swiftly and bridges gaps between corporate expectations, organizational concerns and individual greivances.

She is a guest faculty at the CBI Academy, Police Training Academy, Delhi and National Labour Institute and she extensively travels within the country and internationally for workshops. Participants and organizers have consistently rated her trainings as excellent with high value addition and her simple and effective training methods demystify the law effectively for her audiences. Devika can be contacted at devika.singh@cohereconsultants.com