If you found the figures released with Lord Davies’s final report into gender equality in Britain’s top boardrooms yesterday slightly dispiriting (only 25 percent of top boardroom positions are filled by women? Surely that should be 25 percent higher?) then consider for a moment the situation in India.
The Mumbai based Economic Times reports that while women make up 48 percent of India’s population, when it comes to the workforce women comprise only a minuscule minority.
The newspaper reports that women make up less than 2 percent of the workforce of marquee Indian companies such as Adani Ports, Bajaj Auto, Grasim, UltraTech and Hero MotoCorp. This rises to 18 percent when Nifty companies are taken into account, India’s version of the FTSE 100.
“Gender diversity in India does not get the place it deserves,” Bino Paul, professor and dean of Management and Labour Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences told the Economic Times.
“Firstly, on the supply side, the gender ratio in different sectors is skewed in India. For instance, household chores are predominantly performed by women. Secondly, on the demand side, Indian companies and proprietary firms have historically been masculine in nature.”
This does not mean that there is a lack of opportunity for women in India, the reason for the lack of women working for India’s top companies is instead a cultural one, women in India tend to be more orientated towards the family.
“It is not that companies are not giving opportunities to women,” Usha Ananthasubramanian, managing director and CEO of Punjab National Bank and former chairperson of Bharatiya Mahila Bank, told the Economic Times.
“It is the woman and her family who more often than not determine the scope of her career.”
Indian companies are taking steps to improve gender diversity in what is expected to develop into one of the world’s economic powerhouses in the future. Companies such as Hero MotoCorp, the Times found, are taking a robust attitude towards enhancing gender diversity in the Indian workplace. The company is reviewing talent attraction and retention strategies, systems and procedures, while also offering leadership development advice to women employees.
Back in the UK Lord Davies has recommended that all FTSE 350 boards have 33 percent female representation by 2020.