Only four percent of Indian company directors are women - report

Thu Aug 7, 2014 7:01pm IST

Naina Lal Kidwai, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president and HSBC India country head, attends a session at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference in Boao town, Hainan province April 6, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Naina Lal Kidwai, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president and HSBC India country head, attends a session at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference in Boao town, Hainan province April 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Only four percent of the directors of publicly listed Indian companies are women, but a landmark law passed last year means companies must act quickly to put more women on their boards, a report said.

The report “Women on Boards”, by Biz Divas, a national network of professional women, and law firm Khaitan and Co, said that men hold 8,640 boardroom positions and women 350 in the country's 1,470 listed firms.

"There are many reasons for the scarce representation of women in senior leadership positions," the report, released late on Wednesday, said.

"Archaic cultural stereotypes on the roles of men and women in society are largely to blame, while widespread illiteracy and socio-economic problems further worsen the problem."

The Companies Act, 2013 , passed by parliament in August last year, makes it mandatory for public and private firms with an annual turnover of at least three billion rupees ($50 million) to have at least one female director by Oct. 1, 2014.

Experts say the law recognises that having women in a company’s boardroom correlates with better performance and sustainability.

BIG BUSINESS, FEW WOMEN

India has two companies in the Fortune 500, Reliance Industries and Indian Oil, but only one of their total of 30 directors is a woman, the report noted.

The scarcity of women in the boardroom is not unique to India - nearly one-fifth of the world's 200 largest companies have no women directors, the report said.

Some western countries such as France, Italy and Norway have made it compulsory for larger firms to have women on their boards. As a result, in Norway women's representation on company boards surged to 41 percent in 2013 from 7 percent in 2003.

But the largest economies – the United States, China and Japan - have no quotas for women and have had the lowest increase in female directors, suggesting that companies do not bring in more women directors unless they are forced to.

India is the first developing nation to make women directors mandatory, the report said, noting that Indian companies of the relevant size needed to find 966 women directors by Oct. 1.

"An equal opportunity workforce is critical in this day and age, whether it is in a science laboratory or the corporate boardroom," the report said.

"India may well be a good success story for the other developing countries, if the country is able to demonstrate an actual change in women’s representation on boards…"

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Legal Complaints

Legal Complaints

Government's payday from telecoms auction could be delayed  Full Article 

Running State Banks

Running State Banks

India signals private-sector bosses could run state-owned banks  Full Article 

India Forecast Raised

India Forecast Raised

S&P raises India's GDP forecasts, says it's a bright spot in Asia  Full Article 

StanChart CEO

StanChart CEO

StanChart picks ex-JPMorgan exec Winters as CEO to replace Sands  Full Article 

Wockhardt Plant

Wockhardt Plant

Wockhardt says FDA raises new concerns about Waluj plant  Full Article 

Banking Sector

Banking Sector

State-owned banks' capital needs may be higher - RBI deputy  Full Article 

Shares Sale

Shares Sale

Bharti Airtel says raised $310 mln through share sale in tower unit  Full Article 

Inflation Target

Inflation Target

India should meet RBI inflation target by Jan 2016 - RBI deputy  Full Article 

International Exchange

International Exchange

NSE plans to set up international exchange in Gujarat  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage