Gender Disparity in Indian Boardrooms

Gender Disparity in Indian Boardrooms

Women in Indian companies held 17.1% of the board seats in 2021 – a significant rise from 13.8% just three years back. Moreover, women comprised 4.7% of chief executive officers (CEOs) and 3.9% of chief financial officers (CFOs) in 2021. However, a report from Deloitte India, a consulting and audit firm, states that just 3.6% of women occupied the position of chairperson in 2021 – a decline from 4.5% in 2018. 

The findings of Deloitte India, released on February 8, revealed that women held only 17.1% of all the board seats in India, which is a 9.4% increase from 2014. This was just a year after the Companies Act, 2013 emphasized the need for more women on corporate boards. 

In fact, the decline of women’s presence in company boardrooms is a global phenomenon. In 2021, only 19.7% of women held board seats globally – an increase of 2.8% since 2018. The Deloitte report estimates that going by this pace; one can only expect gender parity in boardrooms in 2045! 

The audit and consultancy firm surveyed 340 Indian companies and found that the average age of women board members in India is 57.4 years, whereas the average age of men members in company boards in India stands at 61.1 years. 

Referring to the findings, Deloitte India chairperson Atul Dhawan said, “Regulators in India have set up a holistic agenda to promote women’s representation in key positions at corporates, but the numbers suggest a wide gap between the conceived measures and the ground realities. As a result of the continuous disruption and the present pace of change, the case for diverse boards that work with a unified purpose is now becoming stronger than ever. It is time that gender diversity and gender parity get more focused attention from Indian corporations.” 

While the number of women in Indian boardrooms is fewer compared to men primarily owing to the stretch factor, women also occupy board seats for fewer years compared to men both in India and elsewhere. On average, a woman board member served up to 5.1 years in 2021, compared to 5 years in 2018, the report found. On the other hand, on average men served on the board for 8.1 years. Compared to men, the tenure of women board members has also declined globally in 2021. 

The 2021 edition of the Deloitte report showed that women occupied board seats for 5.5 years on average, while men's board members’ tenure lasted for about 7.7 years. Global statistics show that the tenure of women board members in the United States slipped from 6.3 years to 5.3 years between 2018 and 2021. Similarly, the tenure of women board members in Canada and the United Kingdom declined from 5.7 years to 5.2 years and 4.1 years to 3.6 years respectively, the report said. 

According to the Deloitte report, the decline in tenure of women board members globally is largely due to the greater number of women in boardrooms these days. This is especially true in the case of the United States which witnessed an increase of over 6% of woman board members in recent times.  The report further states that this could also be attributed to the fact that when women board members retire or there is a rotation, they are replaced by other women members, thereby decreasing the tenure of women board members. 

The Editorial Team

The Editorial Team

Hi there, we're the editorial team at WomELLE. We offer resources for business and career success, promote early education and development, and create a supportive environment for women. Our magazine, "WomLEAD," is here to help you thrive both professionally and personally.

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