Women on boards in India: numbers, composition, experiences and inclusion of women directors
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Research and practice over the last two decades have established beyond doubt the impact that diversity of workforce has on productivity and profitability. In line with various countries taking the initiative to have more women in senior leadership positions, India was the first developing country to announce mandates for Women on Boards in 2013 and reinforce it in 2019. This gave rise to speculations on adequate availability of qualified and experienced women, and on the companies not following the mandate in spirit by merely selecting women related to the men already present on the board or to the company owners, to fill quotas. It was also feared this would lead to attenuation of corporate governance. Using both secondary and primary data, this study was aimed at understanding the response of the industry, in terms of extent and nature of involvement of women directors in boards and the experiences of women directors on degree of expectations met, and enablers and challenges faced in contributing to the boards. PRIME Database, with its repository of 1944 NSE-listed companies, was the source for secondary data for all NSE-listed companies. Nature of directorship (non-independent vs independent), number of boards served on, age profile, educational background, work experience, committees served on, and remuneration received were analysed for the listed directors. Primary data from 192 women directors was collected through a survey of women directors on boards, using multiple channels (e-mails, scanned questionnaire, post etc.). Comparisons were made with the men directors on several dimensions to put the data in perspective. A nuanced look at the results reveals that, though it has not achieved a resounding success in bringing diversity to corporate boards in India, it is not a dismal picture either.
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