India continues to rank third lowest in the proportion of business leadership roles held by women for the third year consecutively, according to a global survey by Grant Thornton – Women in business: New perspectives on risk and reward.  Only 17 percent of senior roles are held by women in India. The survey of 5,500 businesses in 36 economies further adds that 41 percent of the Indian businesses surveyed have no women in leadership roles, 7 points higher than the last year.

At the global stage, Grant Thornton’s data shows developing regions continue to lead the charge on diversity with developed economies lagging behind. Eastern Europe performs best, with 38% of senior roles held by women in 2017 and just 9% of businesses with no women in senior management. Meanwhile the MINT economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) saw the most improvement, with the proportion of senior roles held by women rising from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2017 and the percentage of businesses with no women in senior management falling from 36% in 2016 to 27% in 2017.

The survey also reveals that only 7 percent of the senior management (CEO/ Managing Director) roles were held by women in India. The most common roles held by women in India are Human Resources Director (25 percent) and Corporate Controller (18 percent).

Radhika Jain, Director, Grant Thornton Advisory Private Limited said:

"Embracing diversity is no longer a feminist notion but an essential on the corporate agenda as it helps drive efficiencies and effectiveness within teams, functions and organizations. The low 7% representation of women in senior management roles in India clearly indicates a need to fix the leaking pipeline and this requires a change in mindset of all stakeholders – business, community and government. We tend to talk of the changes required to be made in and by organizations and by society. But at the same time, women themselves need to be more vocal about their ambitions and raise their hands up for the right roles and projects if they aspire to progress into senior management positions."

How men and women see and respond to risk

Grant Thornton’s report highlights that the increase in businesses without gender diversity in senior management comes at a time when companies face increasing levels of uncertainty. It explores the role of gender when it comes to spotting and managing risks, by either seizing the opportunity or managing the threat that risk can bring.

The research shows that men and women see risks and opportunities through a different lens, which provides a diversity of thinking when combined together. The data reveals that women overall see lower levels of risk when considering aspects of organisational and commercial life such as political or economic change, as well as lower levels of opportunity. Women are also less inclined than men, according to the survey, to take action in the face of an unforeseen risk that threatens their organisation’s commercial performance.

Francesca Lagerberg said: “Our research challenges the presumption that women are risk averse and will therefore see high levels of risk in the business world. It suggests that women will not rush to label a situation as a risk and mitigate it. Instead, they will consider the context and nuance fully, and respond in ways that recognise the wider environment and the impact their decision will have on people as well as on the bottom line.

“Uncertainty is high on the business agenda in 2017 so these differences in approach and viewpoint can be a strength for companies. The international business environment has become more volatile, and the ability to manage uncertainty is becoming more important. Diversity of thinking at the senior level gives management teams a wider peripheral vision of what constitutes a risk and provides a more balanced approach for reacting to it, either as an opportunity or a threat. Gender diversity in firms’ decision-making teams could ultimately be the difference between reaping success or failure.”

The full report Women in Business 2017: New perspectives on risk and reward is available at