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The role of women’s leadership in India’s progress: Swati Piramal

The role of women’s leadership in India’s progress: Swati Piramal

Regulations have helped foster an environment where diversity is ingrained in corporate culture

Regulations have helped foster an environment where diversity is ingrained in corporate culture Regulations have helped foster an environment where diversity is ingrained in corporate culture

In today’s ever-evolving corporate realm, the call for diversity and equality has transformed from an echoing desire to an essential mandate. Though there has been a noticeable change, the quest for fair representation in corporate settings is at a critical juncture and needs urgent attention.

India’s journey towards gender diversity in the corporate realm, as delineated in the EY report titled ‘Diversity in the Boardroom: Progress and the Way Forward,’ is a testament to this transformative path. The rise from a mere 6 per cent representation of women in boardrooms in 2013 to 18 per cent currently demonstrates a significant dedication to diversity and inclusion in the business world.

Women’s increased representation in boardrooms is not just a statistical triumph but also a cultural and systemic shift. It signifies a change in the narrative, a redefining of traditional paradigms that have long governed the corporate world. While these positive developments are encouraging, they also highlight the complex nature of the challenges that still need to be overcome. Beyond the numbers, the depth of representation, the inclusion of women in decision-making, and the transformation of workplace culture are ongoing pursuits.

Regulatory Measures

The paradigm shift in India’s corporate gender diversity is also due to the regulatory framework, particularly the pivotal role played by the Companies Act, 2013. It mandated the inclusion of at least one female director on certain categories of corporate boards, driving a significant evolution in gender inclusivity within corporate leadership.

The impact of these regulatory strides transcends mere numbers. It is about fostering an environment where diversity is not a mere checkbox but an ingrained aspect of corporate culture. Beyond the statistical rise in female representation, these legal mandates have shown the profound influence of regulatory measures on igniting transformative change. It is not just about meeting quotas, but about creating an environment where merit, talent, and diverse perspectives are valued.

Despite the progress towards gender diversity, there is still a long way to go. Amplifying this momentum requires unified efforts from all stakeholders. It involves nurturing a culture that not only recognises diversity but actively champions it. This journey necessitates focussed commitment, continued advocacy, and a collective dedication to ensure that diversity isn’t just a compliance measure but a core value that drives corporate excellence.

Empowering India’s Economic Future

As India strives for 8 per cent GDP growth by 2030, it is clear that higher female workforce participation and a strategic focus on upskilling must be prioritised. The foundation for sustained economic growth rests on fiscal policies, infrastructural investments, and also on the mobilisation of women into the workforce and the commitment to enhancing the skill sets of the entire working population.

The female labour force participation rate has reached 37 per cent in 2023, per the Periodic Labour Force Survey Report 2022-23. This increase signifies a positive shift towards greater economic inclusion and empowerment of women, fostering a more diverse and dynamic labour landscape. Further, by investing in the development of skills and promoting a culture of lifelong learning, India can not only enhance the productivity of its labour force but also ensure its adaptability to the rapidly evolving economy.

This dual strategy will not only fortify the foundation of economic growth but also drive a transformational wave of innovation and efficiency across industries. I believe this convergence of increased female participation and a skilled workforce will undoubtedly propel the nation towards its ambitious GDP target.

Ushering in a New Era

India’s progress towards achieving greater gender diversity in corporate boardrooms is commendable, but we still have a long road ahead. To harness the economic and strategic benefits of gender diversity, ongoing initiatives to promote women into leadership roles are imperative.

Organisations have the opportunity to deploy an array of strategic initiatives. Foremost among these is the launch of mentorship and leadership development programmes, specifically designed to support and nurture female professionals. Such programmes represent a pivotal facet of empowerment, providing women with the essential skills and confidence required to ascend to leadership positions within the corporate hierarchy.

Secondly, the implementation of flexible work policies stands as a critical imperative. These policies serve as a cornerstone for achieving an enhanced work-life equilibrium, with a particular emphasis on supporting women who often navigate caregiving responsibilities. By giving women professionals the flexibility to manage their professional commitments alongside their personal obligations, these policies will help augment their proclivity to pursue and excel in leadership roles.

Furthermore, companies can proactively stimulate gender diversity by actively endorsing the establishment of networking and support groups exclusively tailored to women professionals in leadership roles. These forums provide an invaluable platform for women professionals to exchange experiences, extend guidance, and nurture each other’s professional development.

India’s remarkable progress in boosting gender diversity within corporate boardrooms is a product of both regulatory interventions and a growing appreciation of the pivotal role diversity plays. The path to greater representation for women is not without challenges, yet it is a journey with promise, potential, and the reshaping of businesses into dynamic, inclusive, and ultimately successful entities.

This transformative journey isn’t just about balancing numbers; it’s about harnessing the power of diverse perspectives to drive innovation, foster resilience, and create corporate cultures where everyone’s voice is not just heard but valued. It is a narrative of change that not only benefits businesses but also society at large, setting the stage for a more equitable and progressive Bharat.

(Author is VC of Piramal Group) (Views are personal)

Published on: Dec 11, 2023, 3:16 PM IST
Posted by: Priya Raghuvanshi, Dec 11, 2023, 1:07 PM IST