India is only second to having corporate directors on board, says an EY study 'Women on boards: global approaches to advancing diversity'.
As of 2013, only 4.7% of India's corporate directors were women. This compares with 40.5% for Norway which has the highest share of women on boards; 20.7% in the U.K; 16.9% in the U.S; 7.7% in Brazil and 1.2% in UAE.
Focused government attention, corporate transparency and committed private sector leadership were necessary to ensure corporate boards were adequately represented by women, EY said in a research paper
The study assumes significance as India Inc is grappling with compliance made regulatory changes recently to have at least one woman director on their boards by 1 October 2014.
That board diversity enhances corporate performance and failure to address the gender gap can have economic consequences has been borne out by ongoing research, EY said.
With a view to enabling Indian women directors to succeed in their board roles, EY also announced the launch of its Board Readiness Workshops for Women later this month, which are aimed both at existing women directors or those who are expected to take up these positions.
According to the paper, increased attention from public officials keeps pressure on the private sector and results in faster change. This has taken the form of governments championing voluntary targets such as in the UK, and other related initiatives, though mandatory quotas appears to have been the most common move to enhance diversity. More than 20countries have adopted quotas for women on corporate boards, including India, where all listed companies must induct a woman director by 1 October 2014 and other public unlisted companies with certain turnover and/or paid-up share capital thresholds must comply by early next year.