Article (January-2019)


Gender diversity in Boards is increasingly recognised as value in itself

Anand Pillai

Designation : -   MD

Organization : -  Leadership Matters Inc., Delhi-NCR


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How do you define the good corporate governance?
AP Corporate governance essentially involves balancing the interests of a company's many stakeholders, such as shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, government and the community. Good Corporate Governance would ensure three basic things : Fair treatment of Stakeholders rights, complete and timely information Transparency and financial accountability. All stakeholders must have a safe environment for effective redress of their grievances or concerns. The corporate governance structure should encourage and facilitate the involvement of stakeholders in creating value, fair employment and the working of enterprises in a financially sound manner. Good corporate governance must also incorporate diversity of its members in all aspects like Gender, Age, Educational qualification, Race/culture and differently abled.
How do you evaluate the functioning and competence of Indian boards & its directors in present business scenario?
AP In my opinion a large number of Indian boards are having very competent directors who are playing an active role in the functioning of the companies. Increasingly I am observing that the board members/directors are raising tough questions and are bringing in fresh and diverse perspectives to the company. Quite a few of the directors are going beyond just being a "sounding board" to actively participating in coaching/mentoring the CXOs of the companies.
Why gender diversity on boards matters? Is it limited to compliance mind set or beyond that in India?
AP Gender diversity in the boardroom makes fundamental business sense and is increasingly recognized as a value in itself, as a manifestation of the fundamental democratic values of liberty, equality and justice.
Some of the key benefits of having a good gender balance on boards include  :
  • Ability to bring different perspectives to decision-making,
  • Reflection of the wider diversity in society, 
  • Improved employee productivity and morale, 
  • Higher customer satisfaction, or higher shareholder value
  • Improving business performance by fostering innovation. 
Many organizations in India have gone beyond the "compliance" aspect and are actively striving to have a greater gender diversity having understood and seen the benefits of this diversity.
Do you think that "diversity" and "inclusivity" in Boards can help making governance more transparent and responsible to stakeholders?
AP Absolutely! In fact we have seen a marked increase of not only transparency & accountability but also positive business impact ever since the issue of "diversity" and "inclusivity" in Boards became a topic of discussion and debate.
Is it necessary at all to accelerate gender diversity on boards and if yes, how?
AP Currently there is a poor supply of available women talent in the pool because of the years of neglect or unconscious bias in not selecting/developing the women leadership. It may therefore be necessary to have a period of say 10 to 15 years of active focus in encouraging women to move up the leadership pipe line at all levels starting from the middle level.
Does the presence of Independent woman director impact the corporate governance?
AP Yes, positively in bringing in the balanced perspectives and effectiveness in making and executing business decisions.