[HS Exclusive] Girish Mathrubootham and Freshworks CHRO talk about creating a 33 pc women exec team

In an exclusive interaction with HerStory, Girish Mathrubootham, Founder and CEO, Freshworks and Suman Gopalan, CHRO, Freshworks talk about how the NASDAQ-listed company was able to create an executive team comprising 33 percent women.
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Freshworks' $10 billion IPO (under the ticker symbol ‘FRSH’) is one of the most historic events for the Indian SaaS startup ecosystem, as it became the first Indian B2B SaaS unicorn to be listed at NASDAQ. 

As per the data shared exclusively with YourStory, live stock tracker Vested Finance revealed that FRSH has retained its top position at the close of trade on September 24, trading more than popular stocks like Microsoft (MSFT), Shopify (SHOP), Salesforce (CRM), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Zoom (ZM), Adobe (ADBE), Facebook (FB), and Tesla (TSLA). More than Rs 2 crore has been invested in FRSH since it got listed.

While this feat is historic in itself, what stood out was the image of its women leadership standing and celebrating the company’s opening bell. Currently, 80 percent of the SaaS unicorn’s executive team is comprised of people of colour — and 33 percent are women.

Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham

In an exclusive conversation with HerStory, Girish Mathrubootham, Founder and CEO, Freshworks, and Suman Gopalan, CHRO at Freshworks, talk about how the team was able to infuse diversity into its culture. 

HerStory (HS): How does Freshworks’ culture ensure gender balance in the organisation?

Girish Mathrubootham: Since the early days of Freshworks, we have focused on bringing diverse teams together – hiring people who are passionate about their craft and the customer. 

That means we’ve looked beyond traditional experiences and backgrounds. It’s part of our culture, and this enables us to attract and retain talent as well as work towards gender balance

HerStory (HS): Tell us how you worked towards building a gender-balanced workplace. 

Suman Gopalan (SG): Over the last year, Freshworks ensured diversity across all levels, with women and people of colour composing a majority of its recent leadership hires. 

Currently, 80 percent of its executive team are people of colour and 33 percent are women. The company has more than 1,300 women employees globally, and recently, we publicly joined the Pledge for Equality, stating our commitment to increasing the representation of women in our workforce to at least 40 percent by 2023. 

HS: How did you establish the right HR systems to ensure that women employees thrive?

SG: Developing a product to delight customers was the dream of Freshworks — right from day one — and so was building an HR system. It was given paramount importance, considering the surge of expectations from millennials who are tech-savvy. 

We were instrumental in establishing a culture that demonstrated craftsmanship in operations and policies that catered to employee needs, and as a company, we welcome innovative ideas to help our employees. 

We stand proud knowing that we are one of the few companies to have built a robust HR system 

HS: Why is it important to have more women leaders and women in tech? 

SG: We know from many studies that diversity is good for business – a diverse workforce is more innovative which, in turn, drives more revenue. And there’s the added benefit that it is the right thing to do. 

The whole concept of a startup is to create a product or service that is different – if you surround yourself with people who are all the same, how can you expect to build something unique?

Diversity in the entrepreneurial mindset is critical, and I expect it will become the norm in the future as it lends itself to better ideas and new ways of thinking.


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Edited by Kanishk Singh

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