India’s female representation on boards increased by just 4.3 percentage points to 15.2% in 2019 from 2014, as per the latest CS Gender 3000 report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI).
As per the report titled "The CS Gender 3000 in 2019: The changing face of companies", India was ranked 23 globally, with female representation on boards having risen to 15.2% in 2019. This is however significantly below the global average of 20.6%.
India also has the third-lowest rank in the Asia Pacific with regard to female chief executive officer (CEO) representation (2%), as well as the second-lowest rank for female chief financial officer (CFO) representation (1%).
The report stated, “India saw a slight improvement in female representation in senior management of 1.6 percentage points over the past three years, rising from 6.9% in 2016 to 8.5% in 2019, based on the matched dataset. However, the country holds the third-lowest spot in APAC, ahead of South Korea (4%) and Japan (3%).”
The report analyzes the gender mix of the executive teams of over 3,000 companies stretching across 56 countries and comprising 30,000 executive positions. In APAC, including Japan, the dataset includes 1,280 companies from 14 jurisdictions.
Globally, the percentage of women on boards globally now stands at 20.6%. This has broadly doubled since the start of the decade and risen from around 15.3% since the last report in 2016.
Women representation in APAC
When it comes to the APAC region, with 15% of female CEOs, Singapore and Italy rank the highest in terms of female CEO representation globally, followed by Thailand (9%) and the Philippines (8%). APAC countries are also globally leading in terms of female CFO representation, with Thailand (42%), Malaysia (29%) and the Philippines (28%) holding the top three positions.
In totality, Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) has seen a small upward trend in gender diversity in the boardroom, rising to 14.4% in 2019 from 11.6% in 2015.
Meanwhile, Europe leads the regional table with an average of 29.7%, driven by the greatest tailwind of policies and initiatives seeking to address gender diversity within supervisory boards.
The countries with the largest representation include those where quotas or less formal targets exist, such as Norway, France, Sweden, and Italy. The countries that have seen the biggest proportional increase in boardroom diversity in the last five years – of between 9.4 and 12.8 percentage points – have been Malaysia, France, Australia, Germany, and Austria.
While India’s female representation in senior management rose to 8.5% in 2019 from 6.9% in 2016, but it is not on par with peers. The proportion of women in management increases as their percentage on boards rises, suggesting that the impact of greater diversity in the boardroom leads to a better gender balance in executive functions.
Last year, India made it mandatory for companies to have at least one woman director on their boards. But companies in India still seem to be doing the bare minimum to meet regulatory requirements and have not taken a holistic approach to ensure gender diversity. The report clearly points out that there is a lot that remains to be desired, not only in India but also globally.
Patsy Doerr, global head of diversity & inclusion, Credit Suisse stated, “We are still a long way off in achieving workplace parity. This is why we are keen to spotlight the issues that persist globally and be part of the conversations that can impact material change in the direction of better gender representation and better corporate performance.”