Rejected i-banks, manufacturers because they don’t have enough women on board, says Mamaearth founder


  • One in two employees at the parent company of mommy earth is a woman.
  • Honasa Consumer plans to hire 300 people in product, marketing and other teams until March 2023.
  • Women’s employment fell to 9% in 2022 as 21 million people disappeared from the labor market.

Strong diversity is one of the most important factors for the male-female duo Varun and Ghazal Alagh, who built their Mamaearth personal care brand in six years. They have achieved this by ensuring that there is sufficient female representation in their workforce.

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

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

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Varun Alagh, the co-founder and CEO of Mamaearth, told India that they want women to be part of their teams as the personal care category is heavily influenced by women. They also like to have different opinions about their products and company.

Honasa Consumer noted that they maintain a balance by ensuring equal representation at the lead generation level and at the interview level. When they interview ten people for a position, they make sure that five of them are women.

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

The right representation also applies to Mamaearth’s partners

Honasa Consumer has also tried to ensure similar representation among the partners it works with. The largest manufacturing partners of Mamaearth and its sister brands are women-led companies, namely Dipti Jaiswal-led Reve Pharma and Vineeta Kapoor-led VA life sciences. Together they serve more than 500 cities in India.

Founded in 2016, Mamaearth’s parent company has raised more than $110 million to date from major investors such as Sequoia Capital India, Stellaris Ventures, Sofina, and others. The company was valued at more than a billion dollars earlier this year and is now
Reportedly seeking a $3 billion valuation as it plans to go public next year.

Varun Alagh told India that production partners, banks and investment banks had turned down because they had no representation of women on the pitch deck.

“Yes, we used it as a criterion to choose an investment bank and we clearly communicated to them that you were not 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 purchasing decisions for any FMCG category are made by women and they are becoming a growing income cohort that will exist in India. If an organization does not have diverse strengths in their boardrooms, at their leadership level or across the organization, the decisions made lack a holistic approach and will not be sustainable going forward,” said Ghazal Alagh, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Honasa Consumer and Mamaearth.

Varun Alagh acknowledged that this is a privilege that comes with the current multi-billion dollar status of Honsa Consumer and Mamaearth, noting that they tried to some extent to associate with companies with better representation even before unicorn status.

“You may not be able to make a very active choice by giving people feedback, but you can still make a choice,” he added. The company has decided to only use gender as a marker of diversity in their organization because other aspects such as sexual orientation or race are too personal and employees may not feel comfortable revealing that.

According to the
World BankIn the past decade, the number of working women in India has fallen from 26% to 19%. Mumbai economists further estimate that female employment plummeted
up to 9% by 2022 when 21 million women disappeared from the labor market.


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