• Governance practices improving in India Inc: Grant Thornton

Corporate governance practices across the top 150 companies in the country have improved, but the female representation on board of companies is still skewed, says a report by Grant Thornton.

According to the assurance, tax and advisory firm, while provisions like having a whistle blower mechanism has been widely accepted by India Inc, having a women director in the board is still a challenge for most of them.

According to the report, only 7 per cent of the directors are women in India’s top 150 companies in terms of market capitalisation.

“Companies Act 2013 has given a major boost to corporate governance in India and has given a clear path to companies in mitigating several risks which occur at various levels of doing business in India,” Grant Thornton India LLP Partner Harish HV said.

“We need to create enabling support mechanisms and achieve the real benefits of having such women on the Board who can contribute. Otherwise, with typical Indian ingenuity, promoters will add a female member of the family to the Board to meet the letter but not the spirit behind the rules,” Harish HV said.

“Although the figure shows a positive increase compared to 2013, the fact remains that female representation on Boards of India Inc is still skewed,” Governance Observer – the Grant Thornton publication on Governance covering a study of directors and governance said.

The report noted that out of the top 150 listed companies in India, only 4 firms opted for a woman chairperson. A mere 61 women are holding the post of independent director, while 23 women are executive directors, and 27 women are non- executive and non-independent director.

The study said companies that have turnover higher than Rs 10,000 crores prefer a larger board size and in terms of sectors, manufacturing took the lead with the maximum number of directors on the Board.

The report focused on matters relating to corporate governance such as board size, classification of directors, roles and responsibilities of independent directors, risk management, vigil/whistle blower mechanism, related party transactions, codes of conduct for the Board and senior management.

The article appeared in the Economic Times. The article can be found here.