Preventing Exploitation of Workforce with Tom Thomas

This article is a lightly-edited summary of the key takeaways from our speakers’ appearance on our podcast, “The Shape of Work.” If you haven’t listened to our show yet, be sure to check it out here. These speakers have an incredible stable of startup experiences to draw from, the kind of stories that are unbelievably helpful for HR/people managers to hear.

In this episode, we welcome Tom Thomas, someone who dedicated his professional life towards providing a better life to the underprivileged. He provides us some valuable insights into the development sector and their work.


Name of the guest: Tom Thomas

What he does: CEO of Praxis-Institute for Participatory Practices

Find him on LinkedIn

Get Smart: “Transparency is very important. Unless you put yourself out there in the public domain and public discretion, that is difficult to come.”


In this summary, we will take you through some interesting facts regarding the development sector. Here are the top ideas you will get after reading:

  1. Technology is taking over the industry.
  2. Recruitment process in Praxis.
  3. The benefits of working in this industry.
  4. The exploitation of the workspace.
  5. Challenges Tom came across when he started Praxis.


How is technology taking over the industry?

Tom feels that Artificial Intelligence is rapidly taking over the industry. However, there are several aspects to it. It is equally a threat as well as a benefit. He mentions that technology is the benefit, but the breed driving the technology is a threat. It has the potential to drastically change the way human labor is used. While it saves a lot of human power, the problem that might arise is the conflict between capital and labor. Most third-world countries have a labor surplus market. While technology advances, it can lead to further joblessness. It needs to be adjusted through free education and covering of living expenses for this segment of people.

How is the recruitment process of Praxis different from the same in corporate?

Praxis has a very different recruitment process. As opposed to the general practice of focusing on academic achievements, they analyze a candidate’s willingness to do social work. They attempt to figure out whether the candidate wants to push boundaries for this work.

Praxis looks out for three major areas in their candidates:

A- Attitude

B- Behaviour

C- Change

These factors are extremely significant as they expect constant communication within the organization. This concept is not easy to figure out from their CV. Hence they clarify it through conversations.

What are the perks of working in the development sector?

The main perk of working in Praxis is receiving the joy of social contribution. Working for underprivileged people and improving their conditions is a selfless contribution. Another benefit of working in this organization is the culture of the development sector- casual dressing, flexible work hours, collaborative and creative thinking, diversity, and lower levels of bureaucracy. But, most importantly, it is the space for dialogue that this sector provides.

How can we avoid the exploitation of workspaces?

According to Tom, businesses can be well equipped to change the quality of life of the workforce. He feels that the compulsory 2% contribution towards CSR is not the answer.

It is about how you make the money, not how you spend it. However, this requires a paradigm shift. Tom specifically mentions that the stakeholders of a business aren’t only the shareholders. They are the workers, supply chain, community, and the environment.

What challenges did Tom come across when he started Praxis?

It was not easy for Tom to enter this sector. He had to work hard to make people understand the significance of this field. However, people have started accepting it with time. Organizations and individuals are turning social work into a profession. There are many premier institutes that came in.

He also talks about a misconception that started rolling out a few years ago. Civil society was considered the reason behind dips in GDP because of the kind of questions they would ask. He says that looking after these underprivileged people was not always liked by the policymakers.

Moreover, many small, but effective, grassroot organizations have been struggling since the onset of the pandemic. Overall, the sector is not a monolith. Many small communities club together with other big as well as small organizations and perform their activities.

The development sector has made good progress overall. Plenty of professionals are joining in, offering a diversity of skills, and more digital innovations. To sum up, he says:

“I think it is important to know that everyone works for the betterment of the society in one way or another. You don’t have to be in this sector to be a contributor to society.”

Dhristi Shah

Hi, this is Dhristi, Content Writer and Editor at Springworks India. I am a keen learner and am passionate about everything related to writing.

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