Companies are realising that hiring women at the senior-level is imperative and makes good business sense, and firms are resorting to innovative ways to recruit and retain women talent in order to ensure gender diversity, experts say.
The decision by stock market regulator Sebi to make it mandatory for every listed company to have at least one lady director on its board is likely to open thousands of boardroom positions for the fairer sex.
Experts are of the opinion that it is a commendable step towards bringing in gender diversity and having companies re-look at the available and future pool for scaling to senior levels.
“This means early identification, investment, training, mentoring by companies. It means a window of opportunity for future aspirants,” TeamLease Services Senior Vice-President & Co-Founder Sangeeta Lala said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Caterpillar India Country HR Director Anju Jain said “It is acknowledged that there is a gender gap at the board level. But in order to begin to close that gap, there must be a pipeline of women leaders in the middle/senior brackets who would be good candidates to fill board positions.”
In order to achieve gender diversity, companies are creating forums, thinking of innovative ways of hiring/ retaining women (full-time and part-time) and removing gender bias to promote hiring women.
HR experts are of the opinion that there should be a proper mechanism in place for picking and placing these women directors. If the said positions become “ornamental,” it would beat the whole purpose of the decision, they said.
Companies need to go a level deeper in mapping out reasons, circumstances, drivers for those who are ‘stuck’ at a certain level and should allocate budgets to re-skill and re-train them for higher positions.
“Organisations are not interested in the overall gender ratio alone. They have started looking at gender ratio at all levels more closely. SEBI’s decision to make it mandatory for every listed company to have at least one lady director on its board will provide further impetus to this,” Towers Watson India Benefits Director Anuradha Sriram said.
Mentoring and Leadership Coaching is becoming a priority for most organisations, she added.
While organisations continue to develop and structure initiatives aimed at improving gender diversity, merit should also be an important guiding principle, experts said.