Presently, women hold 25 percent of board seats at S&P 500 companies in the United States, according to BoardEx data. There has been a remarkable jump in the number of companies (122 from 40 in five years), in which women hold at least a third of the board seats.
As the research suggests that more diverse teams make better decisions, increasing the gender representation on these boards stands to improve outcomes. Increased female representation on the board of governors would make sense for the corporations. Although women have traditionally not been part of the top-down hierarchy, they are better at building networks and consensus. Corporations are demanding more of such skills apart from the empathy and insights they possess. There has been a strong association between gender diversity and creativity, which is a need of the hour. In India, the Companies’ Act of 2013 is a game-changer that imposes a quota of at least one female director on the board of listed companies. This reservation has led to tremendous demand creation for women managers to participate in leadership positions in corporate India.
Supply-side is weak so far. The registration of women candidates for the entrance examination (CAT 2019) meant for MBAs has gone up to over a six-year high with around 85,810 candidates. However, females still mark around 35.14 percent of the total applicants out of 2.44 lakh. The so-called ‘glass ceiling’ problem in C-suite and boardrooms has its roots far earlier in the talent pipeline. Therefore, academia of the business domain has started promoting gender diversity for some degree of equity in their system. IIMK is a pioneer institute to encourage gender diversity in India, followed by many Top B-schools. SPJIMR has started a new program to empower women who took a break during career. Each B-school has its way of raising gender diversity at various stages like shortlisting and final selection etc. Such preference is an innovative way of accommodating the talent pool.
This academic year incoming batch at top B-schools of the country has marked a new record in their gender diversity in their flagship two-year MBA program — this record has inspired many top B-schools like TAPMI.
Indeed, gender diversity does not imply an insipid meritocracy. This inclusiveness has started showing its results. One of the top B-school reported that the female students achieved an average 24 percent higher stipend than male counterparts. Summer and final placements at these top B-schools are gateways to corporate India for MBA candidates. Top consulting firms like Bain & Company, McKinsey & Company, and Boston Consulting Group, have always had more boys than girls. Last year these top three consulting firms recruited an equal number of boys and girls in them. MBA education is a roadway for women to reach leadership positions and contribute to the corporate world.