Catalyst, a non-profit organisation that seeks to empower women in the workplace, recently released the findings of the New Global 2014 Catalyst Census which tracks women board directors across 20 countries, including India, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. According to the census, women’s share of board seats in India is only 9.5 per cent, compared to 19.2 per cent in Australia and 3.1 per cent in Japan in the Asia-Pacific region. The survey looked at 20 countries across three continents and looked at Fortune 500 companies, the first 500 firms listed on Financial Times’ latest rankings and country-specific indexes like Bombay Stock Exchange.
“The survey was primarily to look at the progress women leaders had at board levels. Research shows that when women leaders enter board levels, it strengthens diversity, talent pipeline, careers, leadership roles, innovation and there is an increased impetus on corporate social responsibility,” says Shachi Irde, Executive Director, Catalyst India. The survey was done by The Data Morphosis Group.
Responding to women numbers being low at the board levels, Irde says that in recent times, it has been upward looking, bringing in the much-needed relief. “The Companies Act 2013 mandates that all organisations should have at least one woman at the board level by April. If you look at family-run businesses, things are better as both sons and daughters are taking forward the mantle. If you look at Godrej, Reliance and HCL, you will understand that the point is well taken,” she says, adding that unless more and more companies take a pledge towards inclusion of women at higher levels, they will not be able to reap the rich benefits of the same.
Besides audit and other legal issues, Irde feels that it doesn’t augur well for a company’s reputation to ignore the mandate set by The Companies Act 2013 and not have enough women board members. She also offers a few suggestions for companies to motivate and encourage women to occupy higher positions, “Firms can look at sponsoring three-four women leaders and encourage them to take up leadership roles. In case you are not able to get the right woman leader, cast a wider net and even look for people from abroad. For example, through the Catalyst Corporate Board Resource, Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman and CEO, Frontier Communications, sponsored Andrea Bierce and introduced her to India-headquartered company Cyient, which appointed her to their board.”
For more details about the survey, visit www.catalyst.org. firstname.lastname@example.org
Research shows that when women leaders enter board levels, it strengthens diversity, talent pipeline, careers, leadership roles, innovation... — Shachi Irde, Catalyst-India