Why Are There So Few Women on the Famed Fortune India 500 List

The number of women reaching the top tier of the corporate world is unfortunately extremely low and even though there are many women at the entry-level in the Indian corporates, somewhere something goes wrong. Take a closer look at the Fortune India 500 list for this year and you’ll know how many women are really leading some of the biggest companies in India. The women who have made the list are ‘Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director, Biocon, No. 243 on the list; Kaku Nakhate, president and country head, India, Bank of America (BofA), which is at No. 370; and Meher Pudumjee of Thermax, which is at No. 240. Renu Sud Karnad, managing director of HDFC Ltd, which is at No.16 on the Fortune India’.

The balancing act between family & work leaves women with almost no time to socialize professionally

There are a lot of reasons why women are pulling out of their career and the biggest reason is the ever-elusive work-life balance and though this might seem a small matter, it definitely isn’t when only 29 companies in this year’s list have women leaders with executive power. Fortune India says, “One major challenge that women always face is ‘work-life balance’. Those who can achieve the right balance will succeed… The balancing act between family and work leaves women with almost no time to socialize professionally. Effective networking is a necessity for a good leader.” Furthermore, sectors like energy, oil and gas, real estate, auto, and infrastructure continue to be male-dominated fields and unfortunately, not even one of the top ten companies in Indian is led by a woman. However, India is not alone in its struggle to getting women to the top of the corporate world because like whether it’s India or anywhere in the world, women need familial and organizational to reach the upper echelons. 

Organizations need to identify women leaders from the time they enter the workforce

Managing director of HDFC Ltd., Renu Sud Karnad says, “Organisations should have a conducive environment at the workplace with supportive policies, viz., maternity and paternity benefits, flexible career options, effective policies on sexual harassment of women at the work-place.” According to her, organizations need to identify women leaders from the time they enter the workforce which means at an early age too and if there is a lack of women in managerial and leadership positions, it is a massive hint that female talent at that particular company is being underused. Naina Lal Kidwai, former group general manager and country head, HSBC India said, “Boards can be a lot more gender-sensitive. If you are looking at three or four people, it is not difficult to have one woman and then pick the best.” Kidwai also added that this is also a great way for narrowing down candidates for leadership positions because it will help companies to groom leaders to get them to the top.

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