Corporate India Hiring More Women in Senior Management Positions
The era of economic reforms and liberalization in India has led to consistently high economic growth rate for several years. It has created more employment opportunities in general, and especially for women there have been a slew of new opportunities in the corporate sector. Traditionally, the senior management positions in corporate India were occupied by men. But that scenario has been gradually undergoing a change in recent years.
A recent Grant Thornton International Business Report indicates that contrary to the international trends where the number of women in senior management positions have been stagnating, in India these numbers have been slowly climbing up. In fact, while the North American and European companies are showing trends of reduction in the incidence of women attaining senior positions, in India the percentage of women in senior positions has risen to 14 percent. These results have been revealed by an extensive study conducted by Grant Thornton that surveyed 7,200 businesses in 32 countries that account for 81 percent of the global GDP. (1)
A similar study focusing exclusively on corporate India was conducted by the Forum for Women in Leadership (WILL Forum) in association with KPMG business consultancy group. The survey conducted under this study showed that Indian corporate organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of having women in top decision making positions and as a part of Board of Directors. An increasing number of business leaders are of the view that their companies produce better results if the leadership qualities of women employees are nurtured and conditions are created to allow them to reach the senior management positions.
The findings of the WILL-KPMG survey showed that 43 percent of the respondents were in strong agreement with the view that now men and women in India have equal opportunities to rise to the positions of top leadership in the corporate sector. The survey findings reveal that the number of Indian women professionals in senior position is definitely on the rise, and this phenomenon is paving the way for re-defining leadership for future generations. Many forward-looking business organizations in India have launched inclusion programs with women-centric initiatives, benefitting aspiring women contenders for top management positions. (2)
Indian business organizations and even multi-national companies who have a substantial presence in India have become increasingly conscious about bringing gender diversity into their senior management and decision making structures. Towards this end, some of the leading Indian companies have consciously directed their Human Resource departments to look for talented women to fill their senior management slots wherever appropriate. In fact, some organizations are giving a clear direction to their head hunting partners to fill middle and senior management positions with women candidates. MNCs such as the American Express and leading Indian companies such as Bharti Enterprises have mandated their recruiting agency partners to have sufficient women representation at the interview stage, so that the chances of promoting diversity at the top should improve. (3)
However, the current euphoria of having more women at the top in corporate India must not lead to complacency about the tasks ahead. There is still a wide gap between the number of men and women at top management in India. Corporate houses need to become more conscious of their social responsibility to promote gender diversity. Above all, they need to understand the inherent benefits of having diversity at decision making levels in order to arrive at more comprehensive and consummate decisions for their own benefit. The beginning has been already made, and it must be taken to greater levels of diversity for the senior management positions in corporate India.
- Vikas Vij (views expressed in the article are that of the author)