in the Boardroom & the HR Role
What's the metaphor
that best captures the C-suite? Is it the bridge of the ship
where pilots and "captains" gather intelligence and issue
orders? Is it a conning tower, the place from which the corporation
can examine the horizon, looking for opportunity and danger? Is
it a kind of court room, where grave men and women gather to deliberate?
Is it a citadel, the place where beleaguered managers retreat for
refuge from all those "stake holders," people not just
holding stakes but brandishing them? Nay, the boardroom is a male
dominated world and not always inclined to change; as a result they
face cultural and attitudinal barriers to entering the boardroom
as they can be seen to disrupt the status quo of the boardroom and
the "old boys club".
seen as an area of power and authority, it makes it difficult for
women to enter as a result that women are not seen to have the same
legitimate power as men have. Recently, studies on gender diversity
on corporate boards have proliferated in different parts of the
world. No one is surprised to find that with few exceptions, not
many women have attained board appointments in the countries covered
in these reports. The debate around a boardroom for women has gained
a new momentum as several countries and companies are considering
measures for improving gender equality and economic performance.
It is difficult for women to rise through senior management
as male managers and directors are seen as the standard against
which women are measured.
to the boardroom is a symbol and a measure of organizational
change, it reflects the current mood today and it also shows
how women are not just trying to achieve their goals for the
feminist movement but rather for their own self-satisfaction
and for their own ambitions. Women are still however striving
in the workplace to achieve equality with their male counterparts.
They strive to attain management positions, they work long
hours, they delay or dispel the notion of having a child and
all for their dreams of being successful, reaching the top
and in some aspect, proving themselves. Despite
all this the case for getting more women on company boards
has never been stronger. Boardrooms are especially tended
to be occupied by men, which means there’s a very small
pipeline of women feeding into the C-suite and board roles.
to recent statistics of the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune
500 Women Board Directors and the 2010 Catalyst Census: Fortune
500 Women Executive Officers and Top Earners released recently.
Research shows that
actively battling the stagnation of the last several years by advancing
talented women could provide businesses with an enormous competitive
global study, Mentoring: Necessary But Insufficient for Advancement,
demonstrates that men with mentors are promoted more and compensated
at a higher rate, while women with mentors are far less likely to
be promoted or paid more as a result of being mentored. Sponsors—mentors
who advocate for promotions and high-profile development opportunities—could
help narrow the gender leadership gap. Despite years of progress
in the workforce still only six percent of women hold titles of
chairman, president, chief executive officer and chief operating
officer in Corporate America Fortune 500 companies, and only fifteen
percent of the seats on the boards of directors are held by women.
Similar numbers are reported in countries other than the United
States. Why do we continue to see this ongoing resistance to women
in roles of executive leadership?
If we talk about
India’s top 100 corporations listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange
another survey report released recently by Standard Chartered
Bank in association with the U.K.-based Cranfield School of
Management and Community Business, has found that women comprise
only 5.3% of the 1,112 directorships on boards. More than
half of these companies don’t even have a single woman director.
On the positive side, two companies Jindal Steel & Power
Ltd. and JSW Steel Ltd. have female chairs.
Also, two of the country’s largest
banks have female chief executive officers—Chanda Kochhar at ICICI
Bank, the country’s biggest private lender, and Shikha Sharma at
Axis Bank Ltd. In fact companies in the financial sector perform
best in terms of gender diversity, with nine out of 11 banks listed
on the BSE-100 able to point to a woman on their board. But with
the overall number of women directors at the top companies at 5.3%,
India compares unfavorably with Canada’s 15%participation rate,
14.5% in the US and 12.2% in the United Kingdom. Even markets like
Hong Kong with 8.9% and Australia with 8.3% are much ahead.
We keep hearing
about how hard it is to find talented women to fill these
top jobs – which imply it’s only the crème de la crème
of corporate India who make it into these jobs. So if it’s
true that we already have the best and brightest business
brains leading our companies, why haven’t they been able to
improve the presence of women on boards? And why has the number
of women in key executive roles declined over the past years
of reporting – despite the vast (inter)national research over
the past decade that demonstrates those organizations with
women on their boards produce stronger financial results.
It could be
that they’re not in fact the best and the brightest at all,
with the strategy, HR and change management skills to fix
this issue and therefore produce the stronger business results
that have been linked with higher female representation at
top for many years now. Or it could be that they’re not suitably
motivated – in other words, the “boys club” is alive and thriving.
is not easy, but women can play a positive role in this process.
Women have a much higher emotional quotient than men and that is
something that can help them get through.
It is true that top-rate
thinkers and leaders and almost all of them are men. That’s not
to say it’s universal: there are plenty of guys that simper like
wet kittens, and a few women who stand up and make the tough calls,
but by and large the ratio is not even close. The truth is, the
fabled “pipeline to the executive suite” has a severe bottleneck.
It gets qualified women in the door and promotes them to a spot
in middle management, where their careers plateau or they jump to
other opportunities. Efforts to help women advance to the C-suite
in line with their potential simply are not succeeding Many companies
have strengthened their pipeline of talented women, but focusing
strictly on the pipeline will take you only so far,” More and more
companies now realize that it takes coordinated individual and organizational
change to sustain successful advancement for women executives. Eliminating
the bottleneck to allow more women to the “top of the house” requires
a more encompassing effort, and human resource Directors have a
key role in the transformation. Indeed, moving beyond middle management
is the critical inflection point where many women executives find
themselves as a minority for the first time in their careers; the
time when the strategies and skills that got them to that point
won’t take them any further.
The opinions expressed in
this article are that of the writer. www.contentwriter.in is not
responsible for the independent views of the writer.
Writer: Natashaa Kaul from Ahmedabad. I am a student
of " Doctoral Programme in Management" at Nirma University,