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Gender diversity in boards up by 180 Percent from 2013-2016: Report

Admin| Mar 31, 2017 - 01:02 AM India

Gender diversity in boards up by 180 Percent from 2013-2016: Report

MUMBAI: Despite the mandate of having women on corporate boards, majority appointments are made to comply, rather than on meritocracy. “Diversity needs to be entrenched in meritocracy and aligned with strategy for a well-­balanced board”, according to a report.

In a survey done by KPMG and Women Corporate Directors India (WCD) among more than 100 tenured corporate leaders to find out the scenario of gender diversity in boards, it was reported that though the proportion of women directors between 2013 and 2016 has increased by 180%, the essence of diversity is still lacking which can only be brought about by a change in mind sets, voluntary diversity targets, alignment between board composition and strategy, and looking beyond personal networks for director appointments.

“In today’s constantly evolving and volatile business world, decision making in boardrooms has become extremely complex and dynamic. As a result of the broad range of challenges faced by companies, the need of the hour is a more diverse set of board members to lend it balance and mix of skillsets. Gender diversity is a significant aspect of a balanced board, and while the legislation has played a significant part in institutionalising it, lot more needs to be done to ensure substance over form, to fully reap its benefits,” Mrityunjay Kapur, partner and head, Risk Consulting, KPMG, said.

In the report, while more than 60% respondents said that much needs to be done in order to enhance diversity in boards in terms of gender and nationality, 78% said that there is sufficient diversity in terms of skill sets.

Though corporations have advanced from a time when there were less than 5% women in board roles in India, the report conceded that without regulatory intervention, it might have taken a decade or so for corporate India to witness the improvement that has been brought about in gender diversity in boards.

Recently, the cause of greater participation of women in boards has been taken up by Wall Street where a 50­inch bronze, ‘Fearless Girl’ statue has been placed facing the famous charging bull statue at New York City’s Wall Street that is known for housing world’s two largest stock exchanges in the world; The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.

Back home, even though, the report highlights that 70% of the respondents feel that the mandate of The Companies Act, 2013 has opened up opportunities at board level for women, 25% feel that the opportunities are being used by women in the promoter’s network.

Also, while respondents largely agreed that women are given equal opportunities to participate in board discussions, in male­-dominated boardrooms women, men knowingly or unknowingly end up drowning out their female colleagues’ opinions. According to research, in such scenarios, women eventually get only 25% of voice share.


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