Out of 440 women appointed in the last 12 months, half of them have been appointed in the last six weeks. As the deadline approaches to comply with SEBI requirements, announcements keep pouring in.
The new Companies Act, which came into effect from 1 April 2014, mandates that every listed company or public company with a minimum paid up capital of Rs 100 crore or a minimum turnover of Rs 300 crore should have at least one woman on its board. Further, according to the new corporate governance norms finalized by Sebi in February 2014, all listed companies must have at least one woman director on the board.
There are several constrains that companies in India face to comply with this new directive--From maturity to understand the fundamental raison d’etre of the law; the value that diversity of thought brings to the board; available talent pool of women to take up positions; to the fact that one person cannot be a director on the boards of more than seven listed companies. In a rush to comply with the law by the 1st of April deadline, as many as 97 companies (as published in Mint this week) have taken the easy route to appoint women from their immediate or extended family. The rest of the organizations are struggling to fill in the roles as one can see the appointments happening closest to the date.
TCS was one of the few companies that still did not have a woman on their board and the announcement was eminent. Yesterday TCS CEO & MD, N Chandrasekaran announced the appointment of Aarthi Subramanian (Global Head of Delivery Excellence Group) as an Executive Director to the Board of Directors for a period of three years and mentioned that the organization was “keen on giving exposure of the Board to top talent” and he also mentioned “she will bring a unique perspective to the Board deliberations”.
One may argue how much of these appointments are driven only by compliance or by tick-in-the-box but at least we have got started. The process will evolve, the value will get unlocked and over time organizations will move towards balance leadership on their boards.