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Want more profits, here’s what you do: Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had a simple piece of advice for Corporate India in case they were looking to bolster their profitability even further. And the irony is that this is a suggestion that many have made before her and many may do hereafter, but there seems to be very few listeners. 

“Bring in more women into the boardrooms,” is what Sitharaman told the ‘Women Directors’ Conclave 2022′ in Mumbai where the theme was “Celebrating Women Board Leaders”. The event was hosted by MentorMyBoard and BSE Ltd and Sitharaman hoped the latter would soon  become more vibrant and much more representative of removing gender bias.

However, the Finance Minister also made the point that merely filling up positions on a quota basis won’t work, besides attaining gender balance in the boardroom, It was also critical that there is a balance of ideas. 


No need to patronize women

Emphasizing on the need to widen the director pool to include more women, the minister said there is no need anymore to prove that women are worthy of taking up leadership roles. “We do not need to be patronized anymore. Many women have proved themselves and have been thus recognized as thought leaders,” she said.

She said there was a direct correlation between gender diversity and profitability and quoted a recent research conducted across a 1000 sample companies operating from 12 countries. It showed that the average profitability of enterprises were higher by 43% where the boardrooms were diverse as compared to the male-dominated ones that showed a 29% dip in profitability.   

“If you want your profits to grow, get me in,” she said while also highlighting the disparities in salaries as well as the way gender bias rears its ugly head when it comes to treating employees. She said such behavior was unacceptable and also sought to bust the myth that women were used to drudgery. 


Oxfam report presents disturbing picture

Meanwhile, a recent Oxfam report found that women are completely discriminated against in the labour market even in the rural areas and in 98% of the urban centers. The “India Discrimination Report 2022” indicate towards discrimination being a driving factor behind the low women’s Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in the country.

Government data says that LFPR for women in India was only 25.1 per cent in 2020-21 in both urban and rural areas. This is considerably lower than Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, according to the latest World Bank estimates. In fact, the rate has declined from 42.7% during 2004-05 to 25.1% in 2021. 

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