While India still ranks fifth lowest in having women in leadership roles, the percentage of leadership roles held by women in India has increased as per Grant Thornton’s Women in business: Beyond policy to progress report. The report shows a steady growth in women in leadership positions from 17 per cent last year to 20 per cent in 2018. This stood at 14 per cent in 2014. Further, the report highlights that 30 per cent of the respondents in India said they have no women in leadership roles.

The findings in this report are drawn from 4,995 interviews conducted between July and December 2017 with chief executive officers, managing directors, chairs, and other senior decision-makers from all industry sectors in mid-market businesses in 35 countries.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Kavita Mathur, People & Culture Leader, Grant Thornton Advisory Private Limited, said, “The findings of our latest Women in Business report suggest that while the representation of women in top leadership roles is on the rise, the process is indeed slow, limited to the dated approach of ticking the diversity box. The businesses creating real change have their policies and practices rooted in a genuine conviction that diversity is necessary for the greater good of the society.

Organisational values drive behaviour. Including Diversity & Inclusion and the associated behaviours as part of organisational values, can lead to consistency in understanding its impact and simplify the naturalisation of an inclusive work culture. At Grant Thornton India, development programmes such as Leadership Enrichment and Development, Advanced Manager Programme, Emerging Leaders Conference, among others, are enablers towards identification and development of future leaders in a gender neutral environment. Our current women partner strength stands at 10 per cent. We have set ambitious targets and are certain of progressively achieving those.”

Policy alone cannot drive progress

Grant Thornton’s report investigates the role of both business and government policy in bringing about change. While 57 per cent of the surveyed Indian businesses suggested that government should do more to address the issue of gender inequality in business leadership at a legislative level, only 31 per cent expressed that businesses and government need to work collaboratively in this area.

The data shows that gender equality policies are abundant and widespread, with 64 per cent of Indian businesses adopting equal pay for men and women performing the same roles, and 55 per cent implementing non-discrimination policies for recruitment.

Indian businesses say they are motivated to introduce gender equality policies primarily to live up to organisational values (56 per cent). However, the respondents highlighted that barriers to introducing policies include lack of evidence of having a positive impact on their company’s performance (35 per cent) and a business culture that does not always support the diversity agenda (39 per cent).

To read the full report, click here.