Business Women

“If more women are in leadership roles, we’ll stop assuming they shouldn’t be.”

-Sheryl Sandberg

Women hold 17.1 per cent of the board seats in India, as per the Deloitte “Women in the boardroom: A Global Perspective” report. This number has been increased by 9.4 per cent from the 2014 edition − the year when the Companies Act, 2013 mandated having one woman member on every board.

Moreover, only 3.6 per cent of the board chairs are women, a decrease by 0.9 per cent since 2018. At the global level, 19.7 per cent of the board seats are held by women, an increase of 2.8 per cent since 2018 compared with 1.9 per cent over 2016–2018. If this pace continues, the world can expect to reach near parity only in 2045. 

Although India saw a decline in board chairs held by women in 2021, it saw an increase in the number of women taking up Chief Executive Officer (CEO) roles − 4.7% female CEOs against 3.4% reported in 2018.

Deloitte Global’s research report also revealed a positive correlation between appointing a female CEO and the diversity on the board. At the global level, companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards than those run by men − 33.5% vs 19.4%, respectively. The statistics are similar for companies with female chairs (30.8% women on boards vs. 19.4%, respectively).

“While the Indian regulators have set up a holistic framework to encourage the representation of women in key positions at corporates, the numbers suggest a significant gap between the ideated measures and ground realities. With the ongoing pace of disruption, the case for diverse boards that work with a unified purpose is becoming stronger than it ever was. It is time that gender diversity and gender parity get more focused attention from Indian corporations,” says Atul Dhawan, Chairperson of Deloitte India.



Other key findings of the report reveal more challenges and obstacles to women’s leadership. Fewer women are serving on boards. Deloitte Global’s stretch factor metric examines the number of board seats an individual holds in a particular market. The higher the stretch factor, the greater the number of board seats the same Director occupies in each market. 


  • In 2021, the stretch factor for women increased slightly from the 2018 figure of 1.22 to 1.30 in India. It indicates that compared with men, a smaller group of women are taking on many more board seats while men have a stretch factor of 1.20.


  • The average tenure of women directors in India marginally increased from 5.0 years in 2018 to 5.1 years in 2021. The number decreased from 5.5 years in 2018 to 5.1 years in 2021 at the global level. 



To increase diversity on Indian company boards, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced a listing requirement for companies to disclose a matrix that details the skills, expertise, and competencies of the board in their annual reports. 

As of March 2019, companies were also required to list the expertise, skills, and competencies they believe are required for the board to work efficiently. As of the fiscal year ending 2020, boards were required to disclose which directors fit those skills, expertise, and competencies in their annual reports.

Women leadership
Credits: Forbes


No one can deny that women have faced greater barriers and challenges than men in the past when it comes to participating in the economy. Disparities between men and women have persisted for years in the form of uneven opportunities, pay gaps, unbalanced representation in decision making, and more. Moreover, pervasive preconceptions (women being seen as prioritizing family over career, seeing women as less effective leaders than men) and a lack of support from mentors are holding women back. 

The only way to address these preconceptions is to have more women in the positions of leadership and power; providing the support and role models women desperately need to advance their careers and bring essential changes in the workplace that benefit both men and women. 

There is an ardent desire to change workplace cultures contributing to gender inequities. Businesses can play a crucial role to impact change and have a responsibility to provide career development resources to their female employees. More women in leadership positions impact a lot in the workplace: helping to reduce the pay gap between both genders, changing workplace policies that benefit both men and women, and attracting a more diverse workforce. 

Also Read: The Iconic Women Entrepreneurs of the 21st Century


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