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Women in India Inc are lonely at the top but they are better off than those in South Korea and Japan

Reuters/Andrea Comas
By Madhura Karnik
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Over the last six years, the share of women on the boards of Indian companies has almost doubled. From 5.5% in 2010, the number grew to 11.2% in 2015, according to a new study by Credit Suisse.

But women are still far away from breaching the glass ceiling in corporate India.

The number of senior positions held by women in Indian firms has fallen from 7.8% in 2014 to 7.2% in 2016, according to the Credit Suisse study, which analysed some 2,400 companies worldwide. In 2016, the global average of diversity in management was 13.8%—with 16% in the US and 17.2% in China.

“India is the second-lowest in the region in terms of female representation at a senior management level, behind Japan and South Korea,” Credit Suisse said in a statement, while releasing the study. Part of the problem is that “cultural dictates remain well-entrenched with an insufficient pipeline of, and opportunity for, female talent to make any meaningful changes over the short or even medium term,” the study said.

Female representation in Indian boardrooms is different because, in 2014, the Securities and Exchange Board of India made the appointment of women directors for listed firms mandatory. But promoters have appointed their wives, mothers, and daughters to the boards to comply. This doesn’t really solve the problem.

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