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CTzen Stories: Soumen Das – Everyone Deserves to be Included

CTzen Stories: Soumen Das – Everyone Deserves to be Included

Everyone has a story waiting to be heard. We’re highlighting some of the amazing stories from within CleverTap — from our very own CTzens — because we believe in the amazing people we work with everyday and want to share the exciting work culture that we’ve built together. Presenting: the CTzens of CleverTap

Soumen Das: In His Own Words

When we talk of gender, only two genders predominantly come to mind because that is the reality for most of us. But, it’s also true that a certain percentage of the population considers itself transgendered, which then begs the questions: are we as a nation and a world inclusive of this community? 
“In the next life, don’t make me like this again,” said a 40-year-old transgender person to me, with pleading eyes, when I asked her about what she wanted from life. This moved me. To this, we replied, “Hopefully, we will change the world by then.”

Making a Difference

After finishing my engineering and MBA in Finance and settling into a comfortable job, a friend and I decided to find ways that we could create and offer impactful services back to society and make a difference in people’s lives. On a road trip to Pune, we considered various ideas and agreed that what we really wanted to do was make a difference for transgender people.
Since childhood, numerous myths and orthodox beliefs have been associated with this community in particular. We as a society have always looked at them differently. My friend and I decided to speak to a few people belonging to the community and realized there are many more challenges that they face beyond the ones we may see on the surface. The challenges range from discrimination in educational settings and workplaces, social exclusion, to homelessness, sexual harassment, and being victims of hate crimes.

Creating New Employment Opportunities

When we approached the community and spoke to NGOs and shelters, we realized that while significant efforts are made towards providing this community with shelters, there are few to no employment opportunities available for them. They are rejected even before harnessing those capabilities—just because of their gender identity. So, we began Project ShivShakthi with a goal of offering transgendered people employment opportunities in the most promising companies. 
Of my two partners, one is a digital marketer, and the other is a graphic designer. Together, we now offer courses in digital marketing and graphic design for free, to give transgendered people an opportunity to learn these in-demand technical skills. 
We’ve partnered with Faith Foundation, which provides training to underprivileged students and places them in companies. We utilize the foundation’s infrastructure to provide courses for transgender people. As a result, we have identified ten transgender students who are about to start the course in the coming month.

Overcoming Challenges

The younger members of the transgender community are eager to learn and more open to these opportunities, but middle-aged members need convincing. They have been used to begging for so long that steering them towards self-sufficiency and skilled jobs takes considerable effort. But we’ve been encouraging them by offering driving lessons and similar courses.
We’ve applied much of what we learned at CleverTap and our professional lives in our approach to implementing our projects and staying organized while achieving our target and doing so on a timeline. 

Guided by OKRs

For example, we’ve used the OKR (Objectives Key Results) concept learned at CleverTap. And we used this results-oriented approach to guide us as we developed our strategy for our ShivShakthi project. We’re also planning to schedule guest lectures from international universities for the community. The OKRs will help us follow the track we have decided on and ensure everyone is result-oriented.
Apart from the technical aspects of the ShivShakthi project, I’m also gaining a greater understanding of the emotional benefits to be gained from my various professional endeavors. And I’m seeing how this ‘emotional quotient’ is as valuable in some ways as the technical. Similarly, the workplace and the culture at CleverTap and my role as a Product Manager have taught me to understand people and approach them with humility, which is the approach that has helped me while communicating with the transgender community. 
I’ve seen the people of the transgender community treated a certain way. Often, we unknowingly end up offending them in how we approach them. Since this has continued for so long, we realize that approaching them now has to be done very sensitively, and any minor mistake could trigger an unwanted response. But from CleverTap, I’ve gained the stability to pursue this project with dedication.
All I would like to put forward and work towards is captured in a quote from John Kennedy. He said, “All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talent.” Only then can it be an equal and fair world for all.

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Posted on August 17, 2022