Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry has set the ball rolling for a debate on gender diversity in the corporate world, cautioning that India still has a long way to go.
"When women are insufficiently represented in the workplace, we lose out on 50% of the talent pool. In an environment where human capital makes all the difference between success and failure, this is a massive loss which countries and corporate can ill afford," Mistry, 44, wrote in his chairman's message in the annual report of the Tata Global Beverages Ltd.
Mistry’s observations, which form the opening remarks of the annual report themed Celebrating Women, seeks to contextualise the issue of gender diversity in corporate India.
His remarks come at a time when more and more women are taking over as corporate bosses, breaking the glass ceiling in industries earlier considered male bastions in India — from leading premium liquor companies and coffee chains to oil drilling giants — a pleasant social trend for a country caught in a peculiar flux where parents in many pockets still treasure boys over girls.
"While all of us hunger for faster economic growth, are we giving adequate thought to the subject of appropriate representation of women in the corporate world," wrote Mistry, who took over as Tata Sons chairman last year.
Workplaces that celebrate women naturally benefit from better decisions, as a result of such diversity. That alone is reason enough for every company to put this topic at the forefront of its business and human resources agenda, he said.
"Yet it is equally true that many talented women drop out of the workforce in several countries including India, creating a porous pipeline of talent," he said adding: "Therefore, companies need to do much more to retain, develop and grow their women employees."