More than half the listed companies in India are yet to appoint a single woman director to the board—a legal requirement in India now—and they have less than one month to do so now.
In 2013, India enacted a new Companies Act, replacing the original 1956 law. It mandated that all companies listed on stock exchanges must have at least one woman on its board of directors.
As many as 755 out of a total of 1,469 National Stock Exchange-listed companies or 51% of the companies, have still not adhered to the one woman director norm, according to Indianboards.com, a database of listed firms.
This means India Inc needs to clock 25 appointments per day for the next 1 month to meet the deadline. This will also mean that qualified women directors will be inundated with offers to join multiple boards.
Two hundred and forty four companies, which did not have a woman director earlier, have complied with the requirement in the last six months. A fifth of these directorship positions have gone to women belonging to the promoter family.
“These women shall have the same voice as the promoter, defeating the very purpose of genuine (independent) gender diversity,” said Pranav Haldea, managing director of PRIME Database which operates indianboards.com.
In June, Quartz had predicted that many companies would take this route to comply with the law after Nita Ambani, who is married to chairman Mukesh Ambani, was named to the board of Reliance Industries Ltd.
Even after the recent appointments, women occupy just 7% of the total directorship positions.