Women Directors on Board: India Inc Has A Long Way To Go

The 2014 Catalyst Census Report painted a rather poor picture of India in regard to the number of women directors on board of its companies. Among the BSE 200 index companies, there were only 9.5% women directors. Data in the report pertained to October 2014.

Source: WSJ


In comparison, 19.2% directors in the US stock index companies (represented by 500 S&P companies) were women. However, even in US, only two out of the 500 companies had 50% or more women directors. These were Avon Products Inc (63.6%) and Xerox Corp (50%). Among prominent US companies with higher number of women directors were, Procter and Gamble Co (45.5%), Kellogg Co and PepsiCo Inc (41.7% each), Coca Cola Enterprises Inc, General Motors Co, Lockheed Martin Corp, Symantec Corp and Viacom Inc (33.3% each). Just over one fourth of US companies had 25% or more women directors.

In Canada, the position was similar with 20.8% women directors in the S&P/TSK 60 index companies. European countries fared better than US with Norway, Finland, France and Sweden having 35.5%, 29.9%, 29.7% and 28.8% women directors.

Germany and Spain were behind US with 18.5% and 18.2% women directors.

In India, in April, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had made it mandatory for all listed companies to appoint at least one woman director on their Board of Directors by 31st March, 2015. In April 2015, SEBI directed all companies which had not complied with the norm to do so by June 2015. Companies which comply with this requirement after June 2015 are required to pay fines till the date of compliance.

This resulted in a scramble for women directors in the Indian corporate world and consequent improvement in position since the 2014 Catalyst Report. According to the Indian Boards Database covering 1497 NSE listed companies, there were 10,730 directors on these companies, of which 1,360 (12.7%) were women. There were still 90 listed companies without a single woman director.