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Women's Day Special: Women in the Boardroom Here's how we can take a pledge to create an ecosystem that's conducive to gender-diversity

By Sonia Huria

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With the gradual development of positive measures in the corporate sector, increased participation of women in the boardroom has pointed out to improved financial performance of the organization, greater tilt towards corporate social responsibility and better organizational climate. Women on corporate boards lead to more productivity and better problem-solving. Moreover, each board member brings different knowledge and experience to the company's problem and therefore aids in tackling the problems effectively. Profitability and innovation are known to increase when women are a part of the workforce and more importantly on the decision-making council.

Women Representation has been Increasing

A report stated that the representation of women in boardrooms across the world increased from 12per cent in 2014 to 15per cent in 2017. While the women representation has increased, much is yet to be achieved. A very positive step on this front in India is the law that makes it mandatory for companies to have at least one woman director on their board.

A very positive step on this front in India is the law that makes it mandatory for companies to have at least one woman director on their board. India is the first developing country to have enforced a quota of this kind. Though the gender quota has led to an increase in the pace at which women are being appointed to boards, women still account for a small proportion of board directors in companies

Here's Where the Problem is

A comparable number of men and women join the corporate workforce every year. So, the gender imbalance is not prominent on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder. However, more women are driven to opt out as they head up the middle management level. In most cases, it is family responsibilities that force them out of the corporate ranks, and also the absence of corporate cultural settings that take into account this factor.

The problem hence does not lie in the non-availability of capable and well-qualified women but in the lack of conscious efforts on the part of corporate organizations to nurture and groom women for senior management roles.

How Big the Issue is?

Even while talking about the need for greater women representation in leadership roles, we often tend to portray it as only a gender parity issue, when it is a larger issue of workforce diversity bringing wider benefits for organizations themselves. Women's participation in business is not just a gender equality slogan, it makes much economic sense as well.

Discrimination against women and girls is a pervasive and long-running phenomenon that characterises Indian society at every level. Organizational shifts towards a wider diversity workforce cannot be a knee jerk approach. Cultural shifts have to be consciously created through long term goals along with an effort of achieving them through multifarious initiatives. Often, it's about creating the right spirit in a working environment. And it has been proved time and again that introducing a true voice here will go a long way to enhance the development of the organisation.

Here's What We Should Do

We need to create an ecosystem that's conducive to gender-diversity. Gender inclusive policies such as maternity and paternity leave, flexible timings, day-care facility are some of the measures which ensure that women don't have to make a choice between career and family, thus ensuring successful participation.

This International Women's Day, we celebrate their achievements and help them continue to believe and uncover their true potentials.

Sonia Huria

Head of Corporate Marketing, Communications & Sustainability at Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd.

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