Gender Diversity, Female Board Members & Leaking Pipeline

SEBI had made it compulsory for companies to have at least one female board member. Many organisations are finding it hard to find a qualified female board member, as there are very few such female professionals. To avoid penalty some organisations have appointed their wives, daughters, females relatives on board, who are not qualified, and this defeats the very purpose i.e. to bring diversity at board level.

women on board

“It’s a mockery of the law. The compliance has substantially been done in letter and not in spirit…more than half the companies have appointed their relatives onto the board, who will speak in the same voice as their promoters and so the diversity being sought by SEBI has been defeated.”

– Pranav Haldea, Managing Director of PRIME Database

Some are of opinion that there are enough qualified women, it is just that male members are preventing entry of female member.

“That is really just a bogey. There are plenty of highly qualified women out there in sectors such as banking and finance, but they are not being allowed to join this old boys’ club…only a thousand or so qualified women are needed. Is it really that hard to find these women in India?”

– Pranav Haldea, Managing Director of PRIME Database

'I'd rather be high up on the Totem Pole than high up on a pedestal.'

While some others feel that despite flaws, it has started process of induction of females at  board level.

” This should not be about tokenism. The intent was really to get more women professionals into the boardrooms…having said that, at least we are breaking that particular male bastion and we are at least including women in the boardroom, even if they are from the promoter’s families”

-Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon Limited.

Organisational psychologist, Lynda Gratton uses analogy of leaking pipeline to explain reason for having so few qualified female professionals at top. Like water in leaking pipeline, the female workforce keep dropping out of corporate world due to reasons like marriage, child birth etc. After dropping very few try to get back into corporate world.

pipeline 2

While some organisations like TATAs have started programs like “The Second Career Internship Programme” which is aimed at professional women who have taken a career break and are looking to return to the job market, still damage done by leaking pipeline is significant.

'Going back to work now that the kids are grown is one thing, Martha.  Mounting a hostile takeover bid of my company is another!'

“… across most industrial sectors, while 50 per cent of graduates recruited are women, only 30 per cent of managers are women and about 15 per cent of senior executives are women. Clearly, there is a leak in the pipeline that filters out many women en route to the corporate suite. Many reasons for this leak have been explored. Women fail to see role models at the top and leave to find a better working situation or create one of their own. They might also leave because they feel forced to choose between work and home. Only 48 per cent of female team leaders we surveyed have children, while 96 per cent of their male colleagues are fathers. A worrying trend is that more women are leaving. Without swift action, the 50:30:15 ratios will continue to be a drain on talent and a negative pull on performance.”

-Lynda Gratton

leaked pipeline 1






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