Even as the percentage of women in leadership positions in the corporate world in the country has grown, fewer women are serving as board chairpersons, suggests a report.
The seventh edition of Deloitte Global's 'Women in the Boardroom' report revealed that women hold 17.1 per cent of the board seats in India, which has increased by 9.4 per cent from the 2014 edition when the Companies Act, 2013 mandated having one woman member on every board.
However, only 3.6 per cent of the board chairs are women, down by 0.9 per cent since 2018, the report added.
According to the report, the percentile growth in the number of board members to 17.1 per cent and the percentage of women chairpersons coming down to 3.6 per cent in the last four years primarily mean that although women representation in the boardroom has increased, the number of women chair positions occupied by women has gone down. The report found that globally, 19.7 per cent of the board seats are held by women, an increase of 2.8 per cent since 2018, compared with 1.9 per cent over 2016-2018.
At this pace, the world could expect to reach near-parity only in 2045, the Deloitte report noted.
Austria, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the US saw the most notable increases in women in board chairs.
The seventh edition of Deloitte Global's Women in the boardroom report includes updates from 72 countries, including India, on the representation of women in the boardroom, deciphering the political, social, and legislative trends behind these numbers.
The report further revealed that although India saw a decline in board chairs held by women in 2021, it witnessed an increase in the number of women taking up CEO roles - 4.7 per cent female CEOs against 3.4 per cent reported in 2018.
Globally, companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards than those run by men - 33.5 per cent compared with 19.4 per cent, respectively.
The statistics are similar for companies with female chairs (30.8 per cent women on boards vs 19.4 per cent, respectively), according to the report. The inverse is true as well - gender-diverse boards are more likely to appoint a female CEO and board chair, it said.
In India, the average tenure of women directors marginally increased from 5 years in 2018 to 5.1 years in 2021, said the report.
Globally, the number decreased from 5.5 years in 2018 to 5.1 years in 2021, especially in markets, like the US (from 6.3 years in 2018 to 5.3 years in 2021), the UK (4.1 years to 3.6 years in 2021), and Canada (5.7 years to 5.2 years), it stated.
While the Indian regulators have set up a holistic framework to encourage the representation of women in key positions at corporations, the numbers suggest a significant gap between the ideated measures and ground realities, Deloitte India Chairperson Atul Dhawan said.
With the continuing disruption and the current pace of change, the case for diverse boards that work with a unified purpose is becoming stronger than it ever was, he said adding that it is time that gender diversity and gender parity get more focused attention from Indian corporations.