We have had a huge gender disparity when it comes to women in boardrooms. And more often than not, companies find it hard to fill the gap, many times leaving it as is. It is so visible that even after government intervention there is little change that we see today. In such a scenario, it is Former Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Chairman, M Damodaran, who emerged heroic in speaking the truth about company board members not spending enough time finding women leaders.

Damodaran spoke at a summit where the moderator asked him if companies are “somewhat lazy” in looking for women leaders to appoint them in the company boardroom. And he said, “I think they are very, very lazy. In a country which has as many people as we have and we are talking in terms of power of half a billion, finding a few hundred people isn’t hard.”

He went on to give recommendations to corporate leaders on how to find women capable of executive roles. “Look around, look at universities, look at professors. Why must you look at just 10-15 women who have had exceptionally good careers?”

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The feminist attitude of Damodaran won over the women invited at the summit. After his session, many women surrounded him to have a conversation with a man with opinions that can bring in parity in the boardroom.

SEBI has also upgraded its guidelines to appoint more women in the top-tier. According to the new format to accept the Uday Kotak committee’s recommendation on the matter 336 of the top 1,000 NSE-listed entities by market capitalisation will have to appoint a woman independent director by April 1, 2020. 155 of the top 500 will have to do so by April 1, 2019.

“I think they are very, very lazy. In a country which has as many people as we have and we are talking in terms of power of half a billion, finding a few hundred people isn’t hard.”

“It is an important step forward to improve gender balance at the board level. This is likely to open up at least 100 more board positions for independent women directors in the next 12 months,” said Arun Duggal, chairman of ICRA.

“We now start to advocate for 2-2020, i.e., at least two women directors from 2020,” added Duggal, co-founder of the Women on Corporate Boards mentorship programme.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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