Boardrooms can no longer be male bastions. Companies with five or more members on their boards must have at least one woman director, the corporate affairs ministry said on Tuesday, the centenary of International Women’s Day.
This provision will be incorporated in the new Companies Bill, which the government plans to introduce in Parliament in the current Budget session.
“We have recommended that any company that has more than five members on its board should have at least one woman director,” corporate affairs minister Murli Deora said.
11% of 240 large companies —Indian-owned as well as multinational, private as well as state-owned — have women CEOs, according to a study carried out by executive search firm EMA Partners in late 2009.
Among women who have broken the corporate glass ceiling are Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma — head India’s second-largest bank ICICI Bank and its third-largest bank, Axis Bank.
Yet, nearly 70% of Indian companies do not have any woman as board members.
Industry body Assocham in a study released on the eve of the Women’s Day stated that at present, of 1,112 directorships of 100 Bombay Stock Exchange-listed companies, only 59 positions — or 5.3% —are held by women. This compares poorly with 15 % in Canada, 14.5% in the US and 12.2% in Britain.