Growing number of female executives in BSE 100 boards

16 March 2020 3 min. read

The global business environment has a long way to go to achieve gender parity in the workplace, and also India still has a considerable way to go.

To mark International Women’s Day, global consulting firm Kearney compared the gender parity metrics of four major economies: Australia, the UK, the US and India.

The benchmark found that in all four countries progress has been made in this regard over the past years, with the private and public sector engaging in efforts to boost the number of women in management positions, as well as a workplace that is more women-friendly and gender neutral in terms of opportunities and compensation.

Several landmark initiatives in all four countries since the start of this year will help further this cause. India for example recently cleared the path for women in the military to achieve parity with their male counterparts, allowing them access to the same ranks, benefits and financial perks.

Gender equality comparison across countries

The imminent Equal Rights Amendment in the US, the recently enacted Gender Equality Act in Australia and recent revelations that female representation has gone up to 33% in the FTSE 100 all show progress in the other three countries. According to Kearney, this progress is promising, but far from comprehensive.

“According to the World Economic Forum, anyone old enough to read this is unlikely to see gender equality in the workplace in their lifetime,” reads the Kearney report. In India, this outlook is all the more bleak when compared with the other countries under Kearney’s lens.

Kearney’s two fundamental metrics to measure gender parity at the top include female representation in parliament and female representation on boards in the private sector. India’s female representation in parliament stands at just over 14%, while female representation on private boards amounts to less than 17%.

The US is the closest country to India in terms of performance, but is still far ahead with more than 23% representation in parliament and more than 28% representation in the private sector. Australia leads the pack with 37% in parliament and more than 33% in private sector boards, followed closely by the UK with over 33% in both domains.

Gender equality by sector in India

Where India managed to outperform its peer group is in the seniority of female board members. 10% of India’s female board members are in the most senior positions, which is marginally higher than the rest. Kearney pins this on regulatory changes made in India, exemplified by a move from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 2015 that made it mandatory for all boards to have at least one woman on their board.

There have been measures in the private sector to promote better parity as well, with many businesses developing their individual gender equality policies. Research has shown, however, that these policies have largely remained ineffective.

According to Kearney's analysis, gender parity has gained the most momentum across listed companies (Bombay Stock Exchange 100) in the healthcare sector, followed by the financial services industry. Other sectors were much further behind and largely equal to one another. These include consumer, energy & utilities, industrials and non-energy materials.