Di­ver­sity lack­ing: In­dia’s top banker

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

THE first fe­male head at one of In­dia’s big­gest banks says a rul­ing forc­ing firms to ap­point women direc­tors to boards has eased chron­i­cally lop­sided gen­der ra­tios – but warns too many firms are still fail­ing to em­brace di­ver­sity.

State Bank of In­dia chair Arund­hati Bhat­tacharya told AFP that the reg­u­la­tor’s moves to get rid of the “old boys’ net­work” and de­mand women were ap­pointed to boards had led to posts be­ing filled by fam­ily mem­bers. How­ever, she said she was fine with that if they have the abil­ity.

In­dia changed its laws in 2013 to force publicly listed com­pa­nies to have at least one woman among their board direc­tors – around 96 per­cent of whom were men at the time.

Af­ter the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Board of In­dia (SEBI) reg­u­la­tor is­sued a com­ply-or-be-fined dead­line in March 2015, firms scram­bled to act, draft­ing in wives, daugh­ters or other rel­a­tives to fill the spots.

“A lot of women who are get­ting in­ducted af­ter SEBI’s rule are fam­ily mem­bers. And this isn’t a prob­lem as long as they un­der­stand the busi­ness.

“But we be­lieve it is im­por­tant to get an out­sider’s per­spec­tive,” said Ms Bhat­tacharya, who joined SBI in 1977 and rose through the ranks to the top of the coun­try’s largest and old­est com­mer­cial lender.

As com­pa­nies com­plain about a lack of tal­ented women can­di­dates for board-level jobs, her view is that they have not looked hard enough.

“Even to­day I find many peo­ple say­ing we don’t find prop­erly qual­i­fied women. What they’re say­ing is they are not net­worked enough.”

The prob­lem is not only at the top – only 27pc of In­dian women work, which ranked In­dia 120th among the 131 na­tions on fe­male labour par­tic­i­pa­tion in 2013. –

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