In India’s corporate sector, women are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions. This issue has been discussed for years, yet the number of women in executive roles remains low. The need for change is crucial, and a “Great Breakup” trend in the corporate sector is required to address this issue.
According to a report by Deloitte, women hold 17.1% of the board seats in India and globally,19.7% of the board seats are held by women. Factors contributing to this underrepresentation of women in leadership positions include systemic biases, societal norms, and lack of role models. Women also face several challenges in their journey to leadership positions, such as unconscious bias, stereotypes, and lack of support. The Deloitte report further stated that it would take over twenty years from now for the world to reach near-parity at this pace.
The Benefits of Women in Leadership Positions Having women in leadership positions can benefit organizations in several ways. Research has shown that companies with diverse leadership teams have better financial performance, increased innovation, and enhanced corporate reputation. A diverse leadership team brings different perspectives, ideas, and experiences to the table, resulting in better decision-making and problem-solving. According to a recent EY study, businesses with at least 30% women in leadership roles may boost their net margins by up to 6%. However, only five nations, however, possess up to 30% of women in leadership positions.
Women have long faced challenges in breaking through the glass ceiling in the corporate sector, but there are strategies that can help promote and encourage women’s leadership in India’s corporate sector. These strategies can benefit both women and the organizations they work for, as diverse leadership teams have been shown to lead to better decision-making and improved financial performance. Here are some key strategies that can help promote women’s leadership in India’s corporate sector:
Leadership Development Programs
One effective strategy for promoting women’s leadership is through leadership development programs. These programs can help women acquire the skills, knowledge, and experience they need to advance into leadership positions. Leadership development programs can include training on topics such as strategic thinking, communication, negotiation, and problem-solving, among others. These programs can also provide opportunities for women to network with other leaders and learn from their experiences. By investing in the development of women leaders, organizations can help create a pipeline of talent that can drive their future success.
Mentorship and Coaching
Mentorship and coaching can be valuable tools for women looking to advance their careers in the corporate sector. Mentorship involves pairing a junior employee with a more experienced mentor who can provide guidance, advice, and support. Coaching, on the other hand, involves working with a coach who can help identify and address specific areas for improvement. Both mentorship and coaching can help women build their confidence, improve their skills, and expand their networks. Organizations can promote mentorship and coaching by creating formal programs, providing training to mentors and coaches, and promoting the benefits of these programs to employees.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible work arrangements can help women balance their work and personal responsibilities and can make it easier for them to advance in their careers. These arrangements can include options such as telecommuting, flexible schedules, and job sharing. By offering flexible work arrangements, organizations can attract and retain talented women who may otherwise have difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities. Flexible work arrangements can also help promote gender equality by reducing the impact of traditional gender roles and expectations.
Networking and Sponsorship
Networking and sponsorship can be powerful tools for promoting women’s leadership in the corporate sector. Networking involves building relationships with other professionals in one’s field, while sponsorship involves finding a senior leader who can advocate for and support a woman’s career advancement. Both networking and sponsorship can help women build their visibility, expand their networks, and gain access to new opportunities. Organizations can promote networking and sponsorship by creating opportunities for women to meet and connect with other leaders, providing training on networking and sponsorship, and encouraging senior leaders to actively support the advancement of women in their organizations.
The underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in India’s corporate sector is an issue that needs urgent attention. The benefits of having women in leadership positions are clear, and several strategies can help promote gender diversity. Promoting women’s leadership in India’s corporate sector requires a concerted effort from both individuals and organizations. However, top management’s commitment and involvement are crucial in making a significant change. The call to action for Corporate India is to promote gender diversity in leadership positions and create an inclusive workplace that values and respects differences. The “Great Breakup” trend can create a better future for women in India’s corporate sector.
(The author is Ms. Swati Babel, A Cross Border Trade Finance Business Specialist, and the views expressed in this article are her own)