The proportion of women in senior positions has declined in Indian companies. According to a study by Grant Thornton, the proportion of women in senior positions has fallen from 19 per cent in 2013 to 14 per cent in 2014. In fact, globally too, the proportion of senior roles filled by women is 24 per cent, exactly the same proportion as in 2013, 2009 and 2007.
It is only 5 per cent higher than the number recorded 10 years ago, the International Business Report said.
As a result, the study, which has been conducted between November 2013 and February 2014 by undertaking more than 6,700 interviews, shows that number of Indian companies supporting quotas for women on executive boards of large listed companies has one up to 64 per cent against 44 per cent last year. The proportion of senior roles for women stood at 38 per cent for China, 37 per cent for Eastern Europe and 35 per cent for Southeast Asia.
The report, which comes on the eve of the International Women’s day, notes that though “women are signing up for college in increasing numbers — globally, the ratio of women to men in tertiary education is 108 to 100 — this doesn’t appear to be translating into better, or better-paid, jobs for women. One reason for this may be that women are not studying the subjects that are likely to lead to senior management positions.” Women senior executives The Indian Express spoke to said that Indian corporate could do better in providing equal opportunity to women employees.
Naina Lal Kidwai, director, Asia Pacific & Country Head, HSBC India, said, “We can always do better. Corporate will have to hire more women and give them equal opportunity. Women don’t want incentives, they want equal opportunity. Having an enabling organisation is certainly something corporate can work on. The promotion to senior position should be on true meritocracy”. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chief of Biocon, said that women themselves will have to make bold choices to move up the ladder.
The debate on having women at senior positions has also gained momentum because of the recent directives from Sebi and the new Companies Act, 2013.
With the Companies Act, 2013, making it mandatory for companies to appoint at least one woman director on their board and including activities related to promoting gender equality and women empowerment under the CSR norms, India Inc has woken up to the need of taking women seriously in board rooms. In fact, many companies have already started work on training women employees for leadership roles. Last month, Sebi aligned its norms to the Act, making it compulsory for every listed company to appoint at least one woman director. The directive comes into force from October 1.
According to indianboards.com, a joint initiative by Prime Database and National Stock Exchange (NSE), as many as 966 of the 1,456 companies listed on the NSE, do not have a woman director on their board currently. In fact, accounting regulator Institute of Chartered Accountants of India is working on creating a pool of trained women chartered accountants for appointment on board of firms.