About half of the 56 NSE-listed cos that have yet to abide by the rule are PSUs

The Economic Times - - Economy & Companies -

Kala Vi­jayragha­van & Rica Bhat­tacharyya

Mum­bai: Some of In­dia’s largest pub­lic sec­tor units, in­clud­ing Oil & Nat­u­ral Gas Corp, GAIL (In­dia), In­dian Oil Corp and MMTC, are among the com­pa­nies that have failed to meet the re­quire­ment of at least one woman di­rec­tor on their boards, more than a year af­ter the rule came into force.

About half of the 56 NSE-listed com­pa­nies that have yet to meet the rule are state-owned en­ter­prises, ac­cord­ing to PRIME Data­base, a data provider on cap­i­tal mar­kets. The dead­line to meet the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Board of In­dia (Sebi) rule was March 31, 2015. “Though a bulk of the com­pa­nies has met the cri­te­rion, there are some for whom it does not seem to be on top of their agenda,” said Pranav Haldea, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of PRIME Data­base.

It is an em­bar­rass­ment to the govern­ment as PSUs do not see it as a pri­or­ity, said Anil Singhvi, founder di­rec­tor of In­sti­tu­tional In­vestor Ad­vi­sory Ser­vices In­dia (IAAS), a proxy ad­vi­sory com­pany for in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors. “It is not about just gen­der di­ver­sity, get­ting in ca­pa­ble woman di­rec­tors brings in di­ver­sity of thought,” he said. As per data col­lated by PRIME Data­base, other PSUs that have yet to meet the man­date as of April 7 in­clude Na­tional Fer­tilis­ers, Ori­en­tal Bank of Com­merce, Power Fi-

nance Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp, Madras Fer­tilis­ers, Rashtriya Chem­i­cals & Fer­tilis­ers, Ru­ral Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion Corp and State Trad­ing Corp of In­dia.

To en­sure gen­der-di­ver­sity in board­rooms, Sebi, two years ago, had asked all listed firms to have at least one woman di­rec­tor on their boards from April 1, 2015. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of com­pa­nies in­ducted a woman mem­ber from the pro­moter fam­ily to com­ply with the rule within the dead­line.

“There is suf­fi­cient num­ber of well-qual­i­fied woman di­rec­tor can­di­dates avail­able. It must be the in­ter­nal pro­cesses of th­ese PSUs that are in­hibit­ing them to take this for­ward and meet the reg­u­la­tions,” said Arun Dug­gal, chair­man of lo­cal rat­ings firm ICRA. It is in­cum­bent upon PSUs to be the role mod­els in terms of com­pli­ance and cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, said Dug­gal, an ex­pert on cor­po­rate gov­er­nance and a men­tor to in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors. “If govern­ment-owned com­pa­nies don’t com­ply, how can the govern­ment ex­pect oth­ers to com­ply?”

To an ET query, GAIL said it is un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of the Min­istry of Petroleum and Nat­u­ral Gas and its “di­rec­tors are nom­i­nated/ap­pointed by the Govern­ment of In­dia.” ONGC didn’t re­spond to an email seek­ing com­ment un­til press time Sun­day.

While In­dian in­dus­try has been show­ing keen­ness on build­ing a pipe­line of woman lead­ers through rig­or­ous men­tor­ing pro­grammes, it is still not yet easy for a woman to get a board po­si­tion un­less she is a well­known per­son. Ireena Vit­tal, Man­isha Giro­tra, Kal­pana Mor­paria, Naina Lal Kid­wai and Fal­guni Na­yar are some top woman ex­ec­u­tives who are di­rec­tors of mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies.

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