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Winds of change in Indian Corporate Space

Innovation and leadership

| March 9, 2016, 8:15 AM IST

GE Step Ahead - Winds of change in Indian Corporate Space

A few decades or more back, confronting women in an Indian boardroom used to be a rarity. Women as CEOs and MDs were a pretty uncommon sight. But things are changing, and seem to be changing fast. Women are not only ascending to the top of corporate ladder but taking charge of companies and driving them into the future.

For years the corporate world was oblivious to the quintessential powers that a woman brings with her in the boardroom. But things are changing as they have realized the need to bring in diversity at workplace. This diversity is not happening merely in numbers but also emphatically and over a long-term horizon.

What’s more delightful to see is that this is going beyond a good-cause track and is reaping huge rewards for organizations that are smart and deft at augmenting gender diversity.

A Thomson Reuters report in 2015 titled, ‘Climb to the Top – Tracking Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards’ has already indicated how companies with greater gender diversity on their boards show a correlation with lower volatility in stock price, and other key corporate performance metrics.

It was noticed that now 64% of companies report women board members, a figure definitely better than the 56% one seen in 2009. The report found as many as 51% reporting boards of 10% or more women compared to just 40% in 2008.

The scenario is also improving in India over the past few years. . While a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was a rarity a decade back, today we have scores of women leading various organizations, right from Chanda Kocchar (ICICI Bank), to Shikha Sharma (Axis Bank), from Preetha Reddy (Apollo Hospitals) to Anita Arjundas (Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd). There has also been a positive intervention by the likes of Securities and Exchange Board of India that has mandated that all listed companies need to have women on their board. This acted as a catalyst to push the agenda of gender parity in the corporate space.

The role of a woman is highly pronounced in times of crisis, corporate turmoil, global issues and deeply-penetrating problems that the world faces. This is when qualities like ability to look at the big picture, taking bold decisions with fortitude and self-involvement, nurturing a better atmosphere, providing the soft pieces in the hard-wired structures of present institutions etc come to the fore quite commendably.

Women leaders, hence, have an equal or different, if not exactly similar, power like men leaders when it comes to tackling strategy, big problems, complex decisions and handling change of massive proportions. They can look at far-reaching implications and have a 30,000 feet view for most issues. This is why they are able to make everyone part of the narrative and walk with everyone along, no matter how big or small a role that person or ingredient has in overall success.

Sectors like Healthcare, Financial and both Noncyclical and Cyclical Consumer Goods & Services companies have taken a lead and shown notable results with gender-diverse boards. Today most of the major banks in India, have women in leadership position.

There is a fresh whiff of parity that is blowing across the Indian corporate space. It is no more unusual to find women leading companies or sitting at board meetings. Hopefully, very soon we will reach a point where, there would not be a need at all to view the workforce from a gender perspective at all, since; the differences would have vanished by then.

Let’s work towards that goal. When it is not just one day, but #EverydayWomensDay

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