Hyderabad: Market regulator SEBI has mandated listed companies to have at least one woman director on their boards. The decision is supposed to encourage corporate India to groom women for senior leadership positions. However, experts feel that the acute shortage of senior women professionals in India may make the exercise difficult. To address this problem, the Institute of Directors has started a course on boardroom functions for women.
"There is a serious shortage of women in senior positions. This is one of the reasons for not having adequate women’s representation in boardrooms," said Venkatramanan Vishwanath, partner, KPMG in India. He, however, feels that this could be a start.
According to an expert, around 90 per cent of Indian companies do not have a woman on their boards. Even among 30 blue chip companies in the Sensex, 11 companies, or over 33 per cent, do not have a woman director on their boards.
The companies are Reliance Industries, TCS, ONGC, L&T, Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto, Cipla, HUL, Sesa Sterlite, Sun Pharma and BHEL. In Andhra Pradesh, there are around 750 listed companies. Among them almost 80 per cent companies do not have a woman director, an industry expert claims. Even the companies, which have women on their boards, have preferred to rope in family members.
Pranav Haldea, managing director of PRIME Database, however, said, "The stipulation should have been that the women should necessarily be independent directors, otherwise compliance may mainly be achieved by getting family members and friends of the promoter on the board, defeating the very purpose of gender diversity."
Mr Vishwanath of KPMG, however, is optimistic. "Large organisations may not bring unqualified directors on their boards. Sebi norms would be implemented in the right spirit."