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Blog Interview

Company Spotlight: Asana

We spoke with Sonja Gittens-Ottley, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Asana about her company’s mission, values and their popular “No meeting Wednesdays” policy. Read on for more about this mindful, respectful company where every employee is “always recruiting”.

Get more of the inside scoop from the women working at Asana on the Asana InHerSight page .

Tell us more about Asana.

At Asana , we’re building a work tracking tool where everything from the most immediate details to the big picture are organized. With Asana, each person knows what they should be doing and why. This clarity, transparency, and focus allows teams to collaborate with less friction and produce great results.

Founded in 2009, we are a team of about 200 employees with offices in San Francisco, New York City and Dublin. Asana was started by Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, co-inventor of the Like Button, Facebook Pages, Gmail Chat, and Google Drive.

What is Asana’s mission?

To help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly. Our mission statement is clearly defined so everyone at Asana is aligned towards the same ultimate goal.

What are Asana’s core values?

As our company has grown, we’ve continuously evaluated our values and updated them—whether through re-wording, eliminating, or expanding upon them. This has been done through a leadership committee with feedback from the entire company. Currently, our values are undergoing an update that is being spearheaded by our Heart of Culture, who has partnered with internal and external consultants and requested feedback from the entire company. Here is the list of our current values—our updated ones will be shared on our blog and website soon.

  • Mindfulness
  • Equanimity (over Suffering)
  • Aiming to Maximize Impact
  • Company as Collective of Peers
  • Investing in Ourselves, Each Other, and Our Efficiency
  • Trust in Judgement over Rules & Incentives
  • Pragmatic Craftsmanship
  • Egolessness
  • Balancing Reason and Intuition
  • Balancing or Integrating Opposites
  • Transparency by Default

Tell us more about the work environment at Asana.

From @teamasana on Instagram.

We’re more than a company, we’re a team of peers. Mindfulness and mutual respect permeate our culture - in fact, they’re the keys to our success. We also emphasize distributed responsibility. Instead of having all decisions flow through management we distribute responsibility as evenly as possible. Everyone at Asana has clearly defined areas of responsibility for which they are the ultimate decision maker. Our employees find this empowering. One other well-liked policy is “No meeting Wednesdays” The goal of this practice is to give everyone a large uninterrupted block of time to do focus work. And, you won’t find better mentorship anywhere, we have a number of structured programs for coaching and mentorship. You can read much more about our culture on our blog .

You have a great overall score on InHerSight, what are some of the policies or programs that are most popular with the women at your company?

We have some wonderful benefits at Asana including a culinary team that serves three nutritious and delicious meals a day. We also offer free executive coaching to all Asana employees so they can grow personally and professionally. Some of the most popular items among the women here are our:

  • Flexible work hours and untracked paid time off policies
  • Generous parental leave policy
  • Parents slack channel/discussion groups
  • Parents in leadership positions (Recruiting, Design, Marketing, Engineering) and women in leadership positions (heads of Design and People Operations)
  • Inclusive work environment

Is hiring women a priority for your company?

From @teamasana on Instagram.

Yes, diversity in general is a priority. I was hired in December of 2015 to drive our efforts in hiring diverse employees for all positions, as well as in creating an inclusive environment for all. Hiring from diverse backgrounds is necessary for manifesting an inclusive environment for both our current and future employees. Hiring great people is an exciting win all by itself, but hiring a diverse great team has also been shown to increase team creativity and will improve the empathy we have for our customers by creating a team that is more representative of them. Thus our diversity goals are reflective of both the culture we’d like to work in and the strategy that best leads us to success with our mission.

Does your company have executive level support for diversity initiatives?

Absolutely—diversity is in fact part one of our company-wide objectives. Our leadership is also heavily involved in the strategy and goal-setting of our Diversity and Inclusion program. Several months ago our Founders decided “ It’s time to do more ”.

Tell us something fun about Asana’s office or work environment.

We vote on names for things, from meeting rooms to our coffee bar featured drinks. All of our meeting rooms are named after things you can only do in teams or groups: Democracy, Peloton, Human Pyramid, Chorus, Rock, Paper, Scissors...the list goes on. We recently voted on one of our Cafe Narwhal creations, a chai latte. "Chai love you" won in a close race against its fellow finalist, "Chai harder." It's fun to get to think creatively about our office culture and work with the whole company to build little parts of our everyday lives.

Get more of the inside scoop from the women working at Asana on the Asana InHerSight page .

We’re always on the lookout for companies getting great feedback from their employees. In this feature, we'll profile some of these companies in greater detail. Know a company we should profile? Send us a note at hello@inhersight.com .

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