Why Aren't There Enough Women in Indian Boardrooms?

India has seen an increase in women taking up executive roles since 2018, but there has been a steep decline in the number of women in boardroom positions. Is there a challenge?
Is India facing a dearth of women in leadership roles
Is India facing a dearth of women in leadership rolesImage Credit: The Bridge Chronicle

In the corporate world, one significant feat that most corporations are striving to achieve is gender parity in the workforce. While tremendous progress has been made in recent years, some domains pertaining to equality in the corporate culture have remained stagnant for quite some time. A study cited by the World Economic Forum in one of their blogs revealed that women only hold merely 5.3% of board chairs across the globe. Therefore,  while the workforce as a whole may appear equal in numbers, it is not yet equitable. 

Is gender parity essential?

The gender diversity of a workspace not only reflects a society’s progress but also determines the level of robust economic growth and productivity of the country. Decades of research have shown that having women in leadership positions enhances the work experience for everyone in a multi-dimensional way. 

A 1992 meta-analysis of 61 studies revealed that female leaders exhibit a transformational leadership style and are more easily able to get employees on board with the company’s motto than male leaders do. Apart from this, teamwork and quality of collaboration and delegation within a group are greatly enhanced on account of women being part of the group. The study suggests, in the groups where more women were a part, members were enabled to use more of their intelligence and help each other utilize their knowledge to the best of their capacities, while also being responsive to one another. 

In addition to that, the presence of a female leader in the workforce infuses a sense of fairness. People are much more likely to expect and anticipate fairer treatment among the employees. Similarly, by alleviating the use of sexist stereotypes in daily conversations female leaders are prone to creating a more encouraging and safer work environment for all genders alike.

Only 17% of women in India occupy seats in boardrooms.
As per a report India saw a rise in the number of women taking up executive jobs since 2018 yet there was a steep decline in the number of women taking up boardroom roles.

What do women say?

A survey in India fixating on the gender diversity aspect. Therein, it was discovered that most female participants felt that a dearth of advancement opportunities was the largest hurdle in the race to attain gender diversity in the corporate realm, and improvement in the same would act as a catalyst for growth. Their male colleagues, on the other hand, expressed contradictory views and felt that the lack of advancement opportunities was the least problematic factor in achieving gender parity. The most unfortunate part about these findings was that the aspirational value concerning advancement for both men and women was almost equal (standing at 86% and 87% respectively). If anything- albeit marginally- more women want to forge ahead in their respective companies as compared to men. 

Initiative towards change!

Companies such as Cisco, Amazon, Infosys, Lowe’s India, BT group, Cummins India, and so on, have rolled out initiatives to construct a pipeline of women leaders. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, for women to climb the ladder of success, recruiting them in the banking and tech sector becomes imminent. This is something that these companies are striving towards. 

Facilitating the female workforce with amenities unique to their needs  (such as lactation rooms and flexible work structures) plays a pertinent role in keeping them from quitting their jobs as well as builds a bridge for aspiring leaders for higher-level roles. 

Moreover, and more significantly, the presence of incubators and accelerators in companies offers women a wide scope of opportunities ranging from being professionally mentored to network expansion. 

One such example of mentoring is Deloitte’s Women on Boards initiative which encourages senior women employees to take up boardroom seats by equipping them with training and knowledge. 

Deloitte also conducts extensive research on topics such as boardroom diversity in different nations. As per its 2022 report, India saw a rise in the number of women taking up executive jobs since 2018 yet there was a steep decline in the number of women taking up boardroom roles. Only 17% of women in India occupy seats in boardrooms.

The proportion is abysmal considering only 40% of the companies have been setting up interventions to address the issue.

The Bridge Chronicle believes On the hike to perfection, the corporate world needs to have action plans that actively accommodate the needs of its members and not just recycled strategies that address issues that do not exist in the same magnitude anymore. 

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