Wanted, women on board

Aug 27 2014, 04:25 IST
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Summary23 listed PSUs still without women directors. In all, companies in India will need 2,700 female directors

With barely a month to go for appointing at least one woman director on the board of listed companies, time is running out for 23 PSUs, including ONGC, NHPC and NMDC, which are not in compliance with the stock market watchdog Sebi's directive.

Only three CPSEs—Bhel, Nalco and NBCC—have appointed a woman director after the Sebi issued the directive, said Pranav Haldia, MD of Prime Database. “With around a month or so to comply, there may not be a CPSE that will be able to appoint a woman director. In comparison, it is the non-government companies that have done well by appointing a woman from the promoters family on the boards and this trend will continue,” Haldia told FE.

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What complicates things for PSUs is that it is the administrative ministries that appoint directors, not PSUs.

Of the 840 director-level positions on the boards of 78 listed PSUs, 95% are occupied by men. Experts said there is an immediate need of 2,700 women directors for listed companies within the next 12 months. The corporate governance directives issued by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) makes it mandatory for listed companies having five or more board members to have at least one woman director from October 1, 2014 while the new Companies Act, 2013 gives time till March 26, 2015 to comply.

Before the elevation of Nishi Vasudeva as CMD of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation in March, there was no woman on a leadership position in any navratna PSUs. Vasudeva, who had created history in July 2011 when she became the first women ever to make to the board of the cash-rich oil PSU, is also vice president-youth & yender, World Petroleum Council.

Overall, there are about 770 listed companies which do not have a woman director. The new Companies Act 2013 provides that every listed company and every public company with a minimum paid-up capital of R100 crore or a turnover of R300 crore is required to induct at least one woman director on their board within the stipulated time-frame.

According to Indianboards.com, a joint initiative by the National Stock Exchange and Prime Database, as many as 904 companies had not yet appointed a woman director on their board as on June 30. Of the 14,947 directorial positions available on the boards of 1,469 NSE-listed companies, only 950 positions are occupied by women. Conversely, this means over 92%

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