Interaction - Aarti Ramakrishnan, Co-Founder and COO, Crayon Data

Interaction - Aarti Ramakrishnan, Co-Founder and COO, Crayon Data on her role as Director in Crayon Data and the role of women

Archana Verma
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Aarti Ramakrishnan

Aarti Ramakrishnan, Co-Founder and COO, Crayon Data talks about her role in her organisation.


Are Women in Tech the game changers in Talent acquisition?

Aarti Ramakrishnan -
Yes, I agree that hiring women in tech can be a game changer. . Women account for only 16% of senior level tech job and 10% of executive positions. This gap can only be fixed by conscious hiring practices. As a founding member of Crayon, I have had the platform – and an incredibly supportive founding team – to build a company that is gender-neutral. For instance, while hiring for any role in Crayon Data, our people team actively aim to bring in an equal number of candidates from across genders. We proactively plan and account for life events and possible times off across teams. Workplace flexibility is a hygiene factor, not a perk. And these practices help us retain our women in tech and help attract more talent. We conduct targeted recruitment drives to encourage more women to apply for tech roles. Recently, we called for applications for roles across UI, backend, testing and customer science. Over 100 candidates signed up, 35+ women were shortlisted; and we filled our requirement. Today, 32% of Crayon’s workforce is women, which we are looking to raise to 50%. We have women leaders across functions who we have supported through life events and who are leading the growth at Crayon. And inspiring the next generation of young talent.

How do you explain their going Beyond ingrained behaviour and expectation?

Aarti Ramakrishnan - Women are often conditioned to behave in a certain way. We often hold back in meetings, think twice before speaking up. I was not surprised to read in a study that 72% of women in tech report being outnumbered by men in business meetings. To discuss such industry-wide gaps and issues we occasionally organise a Women@Crayon session. At one meet, we took the above instances as case studies. We shared possible solutions and practical ways that each of us have handled similar situations. In a cultural context, especially in India, many women are raised to believe that they must put family over career. Life events determine their career trajectory. When a promotion comes up, they’re getting married. Take on a bit more responsibility at work, then find out they’re having a baby. They become the primary caretaker for aged parents. There are many situations where women are at a crossroads and make the decision to give up their careers entirely. We understand that they do not take this decision lightly. When Crayon Data came into existence in 2012, I was a mother of young children myself and understood some of these challenges first-hand. When women have gone on breaks, we actively bring them back at Crayon. We ensure that they have the opportunity for growth in the areas they want to focus on. We ensure that they have the flexibility to balance their various roles as caregivers and professionals. That’s what many women are looking for: the freedom to choose how they work and what they work on, and still be recognized for it.


What's the meaning of encouraging women through men? How does it work?

Aarti Ramakrishnan -
For us, it has been about reaching out through the men of Crayon and impacting the women in their lives. We call these women the extended Women@Crayon. We have many young men getting married and raising families. They deal with the same situations: should their wife quit and take care of the home, how do they handle childcare etc. We actively encourage them to support their wife’s careers and do what we can from our end to help. We were one of the first companies to provide flexible paternity leave and sabbatical policies. One of our functional head and his wife were at crossroads. She had an opportunity to pursue a PhD in Australia. Till then, she had put her career on hold for him, as he worked in Chennai. He really wanted to support her, but they had a small child and couldn’t figure out how to make it work. But we told him to go fully remote and work out of Australia. This was well before Covid and the era of WFH. Creating diversity in every function is also essential. When we were looking for a new Head of HR back in early 2022, we were leaning more towards male candidates. We already had an all-women team and wanted to bring in a new perspective. A big part of removing biases is also including men who are empathetic and proactive about things that affect half the population!

How do you strategise about achieving your goals of big data and other Smart Tech such as AI? How do you resolve the challenges you face?

Aarti Ramakrishnan - We started Crayon Data in 2012, when AI was in its nascent stages. Thinking ahead in time has now become a cadence across the organisation. To be a leader in the tech environment, you need to have a firm ground in technology, coupled with an understanding of business needs. Secondly, it's always important to future proof your solutions. The emergence of new technology is inevitable today. At Crayon, we spend a lot of time to understand the business challenges of clients, research and adapt innovative technology. This is what sets us apart in this industry.

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