Protecting your name, image and reputation – my experience as a WOC

Solai Valliappan
8 min readFeb 21, 2023

Being asked to be involved in an organisational campaign, program, a panellist or speaker, subject matter expert, collaborator or just for your 2 cents is a privilege…but it can also be a burden.

I’ve felt increasingly there are extra layers involved from the perspective of being part of an intersection of underrepresentation. I’m transparently sharing my approach and the frameworks I’m working through in the hope it may help others.

A still of me (Solai Valliappan) from Women’s Work Episode 1: Women’s Worry at the Redfern Story Factory office

How do you balance caution and quickly jumping to the conclusion everyone is a bad actor? The following is what I’ve put in place to help filter requests so I don’t feel too vulnerable, exposed or worse — resentful.

Whilst this is my experience as a Woman of Colour (WOC) the framework and approach may be useful for anyone thinking about protecting their name, image and reputation.

Three-part framework to protect your name, image and reputation:

  1. Seeking positive signals about the organisation and/or people involved
  2. Diving deeper into how and where you will be specifically involved
  3. Tactical strategies and protections you can put in place

*You don’t have to do all of the following they’re just suggestions, use and trust your judgement of how to assess the level of interaction and engagement you have with the person/organisation.

1. SEEKING POSITIVE SIGNALS ABOUT THE ORGANISATION AND PEOPLE

Conduct desktop research and seek references from your network

  • A simple desktop search on the company, board and management team can be helpful to understand what they have publicly put out there about their values. You can then start to gauge whether this aligns with you.
  • Work your network of trusted sources to hear about their firsthand experiences engaging with the organisation and people.
  • If you’re unable to find someone in your network you can ask the person/org to put you in touch with someone to ask about their firsthand experience. You may want to do this after a couple of conversations, it could be seen as…

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Solai Valliappan

Tech investor with an actuarial background interested in technology, startups, investing and data driven insights to influence system change.