Much has been said about the poor representation of women force in the corporate board rooms. Statistic shows women occupancy of mere 6% in board room and 8% in executive committees’ world over. Indian Companies stand a disappointing figure of 5% and 3% respectively.
However few countries have made women representation in boards compulsory with quota laws. Norway was the first which started with the quota in 2003 when the women representation was at mere 6% but today the country can boost of an encouraging figure of 44%. This has been adopted by countries like France, Sweden and Spain as well and sure enough the percentages have increased many folds.
According to a survey conducted by Catalyst which considered 44 countries world over, India stands at 31st position, a very disheartening rank at that.
Let us look at some common perceptions behind the existence of ‘Glass Ceiling’ in India:
- Family Oriented: Once a woman reaches her 30’s her priority changes and she is no longer willing to take up challenges and assignments which calls for higher responsibilities at work place. They are simply waiting for their knight in shining armor to come and rescue them from the big bad corporate jungle. Women are less willing to strike a balance between work and family.
- Drive and Aggression: Generally women folk is considered better suited for roles which are into nurturing. Corporate roles where one needs to drive numbers and drive sales; woman fail miserably. They are just not aggressive enough to be taken seriously.
- Networking: A skill very important to be able to reach the upper echelons. Women have been found lacking in striking healthy relations with colleagues. Creating community of colleagues over the years and seeking input on array of business decisions.
- Lack Of Awareness: A missed opportunity, a credit pocketed by a counterpart under the nose, lack of confidence to challenge unfair treatments and there are so many which can make to this list. All because women themselves are not aware of their capability and are reluctant to showcase their achievement and professional growth.
A handful of Indian organizations have made it to the Fortune 500 list but none can challenge the existence of glass ceiling, their management portfolio surely does not. One of the ‘Navratna’ companies to have been listed in the Fortune 500 is Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. is India’s largest company by sales with a turnover of Rs. 4,09,957 crore ($ 85,550 million) and profit of Rs. 3,955 crore ($ 825 million) for the year 2011-12.With business spread across the world, the company is riding high on success.
IOC is one of the largest employers of women in the public sector enterprises and over the years it has contributed significantly towards the welfare of women employees. It also bagged the ‘Best Enterprise Award for Women’s Development’ for
the year 2010. But a look at the management portfolio of the group reveals poor women representation percentage. For sure IOC is working diligently for equal access of the fairer sex to education, training, science & technology. But a poor ratio of men to women in the higher echelons of the management does not come across as very motivating.
Studies have revealed better financial performance of organizations with women at higher levels. The reasons might be
Greater Adaptability: The women force with fair share of experience in facing challenges on their way to the top exhibit better adaptability in handling change and uncertainty.
Leadership: Once considered as a negative the nurturing nature of women leaders is making them into inspiring leaders who help subordinates build up their confidence.
Multitasking: Playing different roles helps women gain edge in interpersonal skills and conflict resolution.
Positive Signal: Having a woman at the helm of affairs sends out a positive signal to treat the women right. The outcome is an evolution of a gender stereotypes free organization.
Efforts of IOC towards creating a workplace which fosters women development is commendable but the show stealer would be to have women break the glass ceiling.
Last Updated: October 11, 2012