Article (January-2019)


Gender diversity brings in a different leadership thought process

Ajay Bakshi

Designation : -   Managing Director

Organization : -  Metamorphosis Unlimited, Pune


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How do you define the good corporate governance?

AB Good corporate governance is creating a transparent, objective processes, rules and regulations, control frameworks which enable fair and transparent decisions which cover stakeholder interests and are in compliance with good governance practices and laws of the land.
This is reflected in the constitution of the board of directors, performance and key governance measures and metrics are established, controls and checks and balances are set, reviews and audits are done independently and objectively and clear accountability standards are established.

How do you evaluate the functioning and competence of Indian boards & its directors in present business scenario?

AB The functioning and competence of Indian boards would be evaluated on the basis of :
1. Board Constitution : What are the qualifications, experience and credibility of the board members (other than family)?
2. What is the selection criteria and process of appointing and reviewing board directors?
3. What is the diversity of the board to include professionals and non family members including women directors and credible professionals from diverse industry backgrounds?
4. What kind of processes, controls and governance model are established and what is the rigour of implementation?
5. What are the succession planning for board and senior executive levels-do they have a defined process, identified successors and a clear development succession plan in place?
6. What is the emphasis placed on timely compliance, statutory report and transparency followed?
7. What kind of formal training is imparted to the directors/leaders on current changes in regulation/corporate governance best practices etc.?

Why gender diversity on boards matters? Is it limited to compliance mind set or beyond that in India?

AB Gender diversity brings in a different leadership thought process moving away from stereotyped thinking (boys' club syndrome), drives innovation and manages change effectively.

Do you think that "diversity" and "inclusivity" in Boards can help making governance more transparent and responsible to stakeholders?

AB Yes, diversity will help drive innovation, bring transparency by challenging the status quo, strengthening control mechanism without becoming anarchic in operations, mitigate risks proactively and identify opportunities, manage volatility and change effectively.

Is it necessary at all to accelerate gender diversity on boards and if yes, how?

AB Yes, it could be done by implementing gender diversity in spirit by following the dare approach.
Develop/Attract/Retain and Engage : Following initiatives could be undertaken to develop, attract, retain and engage gender diversity and inclusion :
a) Women leaders across levels through a structured process of identification, job rotations, coaching and mentoring and specifically designed courses to enable them to take bigger, broader roles.
b) Have a strong and well defined process which eliminates unconscious bias; create gender friendly HR policies like part time working, flexible working hours, sabbatical policies, maternity/paternity policies. Provide infrastructure support for women employees to promote work life balance e.g. childcare, crèches.
c) Identify and incentivise referral programs to hire women employees.
d) Leverage social media platforms to enable talent scouting for women employees.
e) Leverage the retired workforce as consultants/free lance workers/retainers etc.
f) Ensure an adequate representation of women employees at all levels of management including senior levels.

Does the presence of Independent woman director impact the corporate governance?

AB Yes it does, it helps drive innovation, challenges status quo and conventional ways of thinking.