On this Bring It In podcast episode, 1Huddle’s CEO and Founder, Sam Caucci, sat down with Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri, Tribeca Film Festival/Disruptive Innovator Awarded Film Director, Photographer, Writer. Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri is a board member of Saving Jane, a group dedicated to empowering survivors of all forms of modern day slavery and human trafficking to live the life that they want to live.
Mentored by Mother Theresa and David Bowie, Indrani has used her creative platforms to bring awareness to some of the biggest social justice issues in our time, earning her over 50 awards from Cannes, Tribeca, CNN, and dozens of other organizations, her work has spoken to millions. She’s helped launch the careers of Beyonce, Lady Gaga so…she has an eye for spotting talent.
On this episode of Bring It In season two, Indrani sat down with 1Huddle’s CEO and Founder Sam Caucci and talked about everything from how human trafficking is everyone’s problem and what we could do to help.
Audio available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.
Below are some of the insights Indrani shared during our chat, edited for length and clarity. You can find more Bring It In podcast episodes here.
Sam: You introduce yourself to the audience, share a little bit about who you are and your work.
Indrani: I’m Indrani, I am a filmmaker, a photographer, and a social justice advocate and also a visiting lecturer at Princeton University. I’m very passionate about saving Jane and fighting trafficking, which is I think the greatest, problem in our world in so many ways, because it impacts so many women and children and the most vulnerable people in our society.
Sam: How did you get connected to this work around trafficking?
Indrani: I have spent my life working for female empowerment. I co-founded a school in India, which I still direct, which had a lot of students who had come from backgrounds of various kinds of violence and they’re often at risk of trafficking. I became really passionate about this because when I learned the extent to which young women are being trafficked and the ways in which it happens are so devastating.
Sam: January being human trafficking awareness month was obviously a lot of coverage around it. What is an important statistic or important data point that everybody should be aware of that maybe they aren’t.
Indrani: I think what’s really important is to recognize that it happens everywhere in the world, that all of the cities in America have large numbers of trafficking. Even the rural areas have it too. What really surprises me as I traveled the world, dealing with and trying to fight trafficking. I find that everywhere people think it happens somewhere else. When I’m in India, they think, Oh, that’s just something that happens in America. When you’re in America, they say, Oh, it’s something, you know, in Africa or people want to imagine that it’s not in their own backyard and it is. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help protect those who can’t protect themselves.
Sam: Can you tell us a little bit about saving Jane? Because my eyes were open to the horrors of trafficking just in meeting Kathy Ann and the saving Jane team. Can you tell us a little bit about the organization and the mission?
Indrani: Saving Jane is a wonderful organization because its approach is really innovative and its goal is to reduce trafficking and to do that through prevention by reaching out to young people that are at risk. It does that by education and it also does a lot of work to help with rehabilitation for those who are survivors of trafficking. It looks at it from multiple perspectives and Kathy Ann is just an incredible human being who has dedicated her life to this.
Sam: What can talent leaders do in your mind in order to help put an end to trafficking. It often feels like the responsibility to fight this is often political. We asked the government to step in. Sometimes it includes law enforcement. Sometimes it includes nonprofits and associations and community organizations. It doesn’t often include private sector companies and talent leaders who look inside. What do you think talent leaders could do?
Indrani: Talent leaders need to recognize that trafficking is everyone’s problem. That law enforcement cannot do its job without the participation of everyone in the private sector. There’s very little that the police can do when they don’t see the problem happening. We have to each be the eyes and ears of those whose voices don’t get heard. These are children, women, men also, but mostly very young women who are put into really the most horrendous situations. There are signs that people need to be educated, to recognize, and to respond to. I think a lot of times people are afraid or they think, Oh, it’s not my problem, but if it’s not your problem, then no one’s going to solve this. We need to all step up.
Sam: I was surprised to hear from Kathy Ann and the saving Jane team about the opportunity that exists with, for example, first responders who oftentimes receive a pretty extensive amount of training around identifying if someone’s a victim of domestic violence, but may not receive any formal training around how to identify if somebody is a victim of human trafficking. That really got my wheels spinning around all the different businesses and business models and hospitality and food and in aviation airlines where there might be gaps around awareness where there’s this tremendous opportunity.
Indrani: When you look at any of the stories of trafficking victims, they have been seen by hundreds of people who could have brought an end to the terrible situations they’re in. They’re not completely hidden away somewhere. They are operating. These traffickers are operating out of restaurants, hotels, they’re using buses, trains, airplanes. These victims are encountering numerous people who could help them, but people are not educated sufficiently to the signs, or even if they notice they feel something’s wrong, they’re often afraid because they don’t know the correct protocols. In fact, they’re often putting companies at risk as well. There are liabilities for operating a trafficking ring out of your hotel, or for allowing these things to go on there. They’re all kinds of risks that companies are also themselves complicit if they don’t act so. There’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of understanding that really would help for people to have that education.
Sam: How has COVID in the pandemic impacted your work?
Indrani: The pandemic has made it much more difficult in times of natural disasters and pandemics. It’s always the most vulnerable who are hurting the most, who faced the most difficulties because of that. With the lack of mobility, that’s made it even harder for victims to have opportunities to get the help that they need. There’s certainly a sense in which trafficking has gone more underground, which means the opportunities are fewer, but the responsibilities then for all of us who are trying to, to fight this terrible ill have increased. We all have to be more innovative. We have to be more aware because you might only see that child once and have a chance to save their life.
Sam: I had to ask you about this, given your awesome, extensive, super connected background, your work opening a school in India. I have to ask you about what that experience was like.
Indrani: It was such an extraordinary experience opening the school it’s called C school.org. It’s called Shakti empowerment education in India. I was very young at the time, I was 19 and I really didn’t know anything about education. I hadn’t got my degree yet but I knew that these kids needed to have more opportunities than they had, and that I’d saved up a bit of money. I jumped in, I got some teachers and then I got my father to come out of retirement. He is an accountant and he has been amazing running the school. What we learned over the years was that we have to listen to our students. I think education is often done in this top-down kind of way and the assumption is that those in charge know better than those who are learning and it’s really not the case. If we listen and have open minds and open hearts about what kids need to learn what can help them by listening to their families about their experiences, and we come to realize what we can really do to benefit them the most. And, also the ways in which we have to keep updating our own education as educators, because what’s needed is constantly changing. One of the things that we expanded into was women’s education. We realized that the mothers of these kids were in such terrible situations themselves, that it made it very difficult for their children to learn. Often their kids were malnourished so we provided food for them. They’re often unwell. So we provided medical care because we realized if someone is malnourished, they can’t learn. We came to understand that the greatest change often can come from the mothers, from the women in society. We provide vocational training and literacy training for them as well and that holistic approach has really worked wonders and created a lot of opportunities for transformation.
Sam: Sounds like we can take a few notes at it out of that book here in the U S when it comes to thinking about education and including. To your point, making a more holistic effort to get community involvement.
Indrani: One of the other things that we learned was that a lot of schools provide training that isn’t really applicable to actually getting jobs or actually having a healthy, productive life. Some of the things we include are how do you eat healthily, healthy? Which kinds of medicines do you use when you’re sick. Providing practical knowledge like that can be life-changing for people when they face a crisis. Another thing that we realized was that a lot of young women were being married by their parents at a very young age. The parents didn’t realize the potential some of these girls had, they were brilliant and they could excel in school and make their own living but out of fear, their families were trying to pair them off at an early age. Education is much bigger than just learning the facts and figures that we often prioritize.
Sam: What you would advise companies, what action steps they can take directly today if they are truly committed to putting an end to human trafficking, what can C level executives do?
Indrani: Executives need to focus first on education. They need to educate themselves and their teams as to how to identify signs of trafficking, understanding what kinds of risks their enterprise has in that space. The places in which it may occur and preparing their employees to be able to recognize and deal with those situations as they arise. That would be the number one step. Number two is motivating people and helping them to understand that, that they won’t get in trouble for reporting something that they see. Helping them understand that that’s encouraged, that’s part of the corporate culture and I think it’s very important as well. People are often too afraid to do the right thing and we need to empower people to do that and to recognize those who do in a positive way.
Sam: Any closing thoughts on the future of work?
Indrani: I think the future of work is very exciting. We’re living in a time of great innovation, a lot of change, and people are often very afraid when that happens. I think we have to recognize the fear, but also the opportunity for these changes. With the change that companies are taking to take a more active role in making a better world. I think things that we never imagined could happen are now happening and people are taking responsibility and individuals are stepping up. Companies are stepping up. I think that it’s an exciting time and I think that people should see this as an opportunity for their own gr owth, as well as for their companies to grow and uphold the values and goodness in our world.
Topics Discussed: Human Trafficking, Human Trafficking Awareness, Leadership, Future of Work, Education
Dana Safa, Manager of Digital Marketing at 1Huddle
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