There are numerous studies which show that having more women in the workplaces is good for business - not because it is the politically correct thing to do in today's era, but because it is better for the bottom line. Two years ago, a study by EY and Peterson Institute of the US, looking at 21,000 companies in 91 countries, showed that companies with more women in their leadership teams had better bottom lines. Two McKinsey reports - one in 2015 "Why Diversity Matters" and another in 2018 "Delivering Through Diversity" - came to similar conclusions. Companies with a higher number of women in top management ranks were more likely to outperform those with lower gender diversity in top rungs. And these are not the only ones - there have been multiple other studies, both sector-specific as well as country-specific, which have reinforced the findings.
But even while companies and governments are trying to improve gender diversity at all levels - through both HR policies and government policies - another issue is cropping up. This is about gender pay parity - or rather disparity - at all levels in the organisations. It has become a bit of a cause celebre in both the US and the UK. Several high-profile cases have been fought and are being fought over gender pay discrimination.
And it is an issue in India as well, though most of the senior women leaders we talked to wanted to speak off-the-record. But they pointed out that in many cases, there is both conscious and unconscious bias that comes into play, especially against women who have just married or have just had children and are coming back from maternity leave.
Sometimes, well intentioned laws play their own role. For example, the law on six months maternity leave often means that women coming back after child birth get assessed for only six months, while their male colleagues are assessed for the full year.
Our cover story in this year's Most Powerful Women special issue takes a close look at the problem and the possible solutions. Another article looks at the problems that women entrepreneurs face, which their male counterparts do not have to deal with, when starting up a company.
Of course, do not miss the profiles of the fascinating women leaders who make up our list of 30 Most Powerful Women in business and economics this year. And also the 16 women who have won our social impact awards for their work at the grassroots level.