The appointment of Jyoti Deshpande, CEO, Viacom 18 Pvt Ltd as the co-chair of FICCI Media and Entertainment Board gives as a tremendous boost to the confidence of women.
Deshpande joins the league of five other powerful women in the media industry recently featured among the top 50 most powerful women in India in the business magazine Fortune India which include Shobhana Bhartia, Chairperson and Editorial Director, HT Media and Kalli Purie, Vice Chairperson, India Today Group among others.
Surely and steadily women are conquering every male bastion there is. From the Defence and Police forces to space, steel, real estate and liquor. An alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, Hina Nagarajan became the managing Director and CEO of Diageo India in July 2021 and in the same year in January, Soma Mondal, a graduate in electrical engineering from National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, took over as Chairman of SAIL.
With the growing list of women CEOs, the outlook of corporate India appears to be changing. According to the Business 2021 report by global accounting firm Grant Thornton, India ranks third in the world for women working in senior management positions. As per the study, the percentage of women in senior management for India stood at 39 per cent, against the global average of 31 per cent. The report also said that 47 per cent of mid-market businesses in India now have women chief executive officers (CEOs) compared with 26 per cent globally.
Although there’s decline in board chairs held by women in 2021, it witnessed an increase in the number of women taking up CEO roles: 4.7 per cent female CEOs against 3.4 per cent reported in 2018 according to the Deloitte Global’s Women in the boardroom report published by The Economic Times. Interestingly, the report also said that there was a ‘positive correlation’ between appointing a female CEO and the diversity on the board. Also, globally, companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards than those run by men, 33.5 per cent versus 19.4 per cent.
Women promote equality and bring soft skills to workplace
Having women in leadership roles has proved advantageous as they bring equality and soft skills to their workplace. Especially during the pandemic crisis, women played a crucial role. According to a news report published in US News, countries led by women such as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Germany and Slovakia have been internationally recognized for the effective response to the pandemic. The article also quoted a Harvard Business School study saying that ‘the presence of women leaders in national, local and community level governance leads to an increase in policy making that advances rights, promotes equality and improves quality of life for those overlooked in society’.
In fact, according to a report in Borgen magazine, with better representation of women in the political system, neglected sectors such as healthcare, education will become priorities.
Better representation in politics needed
The Women’s Reservation Bill that proposes to reserve 1/3rd of all seats in the Lower house of Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women is still pending.
In world rankings, India ranks 122 out of 153 countries when it comes to women’s representation in parliament, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020.At the national-level, while the 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw an increase in representation of women representatives, only 14% of the Members of Parliament (MPs) in India are women. At the state-level, women make up only nine per cent of the elected candidates of state legislative assemblies. If the management of the pandemic crisis by women led countries is an example to go by then clearly, the need of the hour is better representation of women in politics.
Malnutrition and equal pay package
However, despite the progress made by women, malnutrition and equal pay package continue to plague Indian women. According to a news report in Borgen magazine, half of the young women are anemic and enter pregnancy underweight.
And even when women take on leadership roles, women make 25 per cent of the income men make and generally take on childcare responsibilities, making it very challenging for women to have ambitious careers.
Supportive polices, access to education and nutrition and equal pay package will certainly pave the way for equal representation of women in every sphere of work.