Rejected i-banks, manufacturers for not having enough women on board says Mamaearth founder

  • One in two employees at the parent entity of Mamaearth is a female.
  • Honasa Consumer plans to hire 300 people across product, marketing and other teams till March 2023.
  • Female employment plummeted to 9% by 2022 as 21 million disappeared from the workforce.

A strong diversity is one of the most important factors for husband-wife duo Varun and Ghazal Alagh, who built their personal care brand Mamaearth in six years. They achieved this by ensuring there is enough women representation in their workforce.

The company claims that one in two employees at Honasa Consumer Private (HCPL) — the parent entity of Mamaearth, Derma Co, Aqualogica and Ayuga — is a female.

Women have also taken leadership roles too as 8 out of 10 leaders in marketing innovations are women. Functions like legal and strategy are led by women too, the company emphasized.

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Varun Alagh, the co-founder and CEO of Mamaearth, in a conversation with Business Insider India said that they want women to be a part of their teams as the personal care category is fairly influenced by women. They would also like different opinions about their products and business.

Honasa Consumer noted that they maintain a balance by ensuring equal representation at the lead generation level and the interview level. If they are interviewing 10 people for a position, they ensure that five of them are women.

“It’s just about equal opportunities,” he noted. They plan to hire 300 people across product, marketing and other teams till March 2023.

The right representation also applies to Mamaearth’s partners

Honasa Consumer has also been trying to ensure similar representation in the partners it works with. The biggest manufacturing partners of Mamaearth and its sister brands — are women-led businesses, namely Dipti Jaiswal-led Reve Pharma and Vineeta Kapoor-led VA life sciences. Together, they cater to over 500 cities in India.

Founded in 2016, Mamaearth’s parent company raised over $110 million to date from marquee investors like Sequoia Capital India, Stellaris Ventures, Sofina and others. The company was valued over a billion dollars earlier this year and is now reportedly seeking a $3 billion valuation as it intends to go public next year.

Varun Alagh told Business Insider India that had rejected manufacturing partners, banks and investment banks for not having women representation during the pitch deck.

“Yes, we did use it as a criteria to choose an investment bank and we clearly communicated to them that you did not get selected because there were no women in the room from your side,” the 38-year-old added.

He did not disclose the name of the investment bank.

“In most households, more than 70% of the purchase decisions for any FMCG category are by women and they are becoming a growing income cohort that will exist in India. If an organization doesn’t have a diverse force in their boardrooms, at their leadership levels or across the organizations, the decisions being taken lack holistic approach, and will not be sustainable in the future,” said Ghazal Alagh, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Honasa Consumer and Mamaearth.

Acknowledging that this a privilege that comes with the current position of billion dollar status of Honsa Consumer and Mamaearth, Varun Alagh noted that they were trying to associate themselves with businesses with better representation to some extent even before the unicorn status.

“You might not be able to make a very active choice by giving feedback to people but you can still make a choice,” he added. The company has decided to only keep gender as a marker for diversity in their organization as other aspects like sexual preference or race are too personal and employees may not be comfortable disclosing that.

According to the World Bank, the number of working women in India dropped from 26% to 19% in the last decade. The economists in Mumbai further estimated that female employment plummeted to 9% by 2022 as 21 million women disappeared from the workforce.

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