Advocate Devika Singh started her legal career 16 years ago as a corporate lawyer and her forte was infrastructure and labour. She pioneered, lead and managed India’s first legal practice on gender discrimination. Devika lead 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. 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.

Initially, Devika’s law practice on workplace discrimination 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 then 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 leads 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. She has conducted workshops for various industrial and commercial establishments, UNODC, CII, international NGO’s such as PRIA and RCSHA and research institutions such as the VV Giri National Labour Institute, Ministry of Labour and Employment. She has also trained labour officers, trade union members, ASHA and anganwaadi workers, domestic workers and also CBI 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 & lead a research team in conducting seminal research on sexual harassment in the workplace in 12 Indian states. Eventually, she used her considerable experience in the area to assist the passage of the law on sexual harassment. She also advised the Ministry of Labour and Employment (GOI) on maternity laws in India and was responsible for initiating changes in existing laws for extended maternity leave and provision of creche facilities.

Devika is Cohere’s Lead Legal Consultant and particularly focuses on handholding employers and employees and reducing legal liability and risk. She acts as an external member on Internal Committees and has the unmatched distinction of conducting more than 1200 inquiries since the subject law came into effect in 2013.

Her endeavor is to promote gender friendly workplaces in which all sexes co-exist and work cohesively without any perception of threat. She is a guest faculty at the CBI Academy and NLI 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