There is a marked decrease in the proportion of Indian women in senior positions in the workplace. According to the findings of a new study by Grant Thornton, titled International Business Report, the proportion of women in senior positions in the Indian workforce fell from 19 per cent in 2013 to 14 per cent in 2014.
Globally, the proportion of senior roles filled by women in 2014 is 24 per cent, with China at 38 per cent, Eastern Europe at 37 per cent, and Southeast Asia at 35 per cent leading the way.
For the study, more than 6,700 interviews were conducted between November 2013 and February 2014 in India and globally across industries.
What is even more alarming, the report notes, is that despite the increasing impetus to improve female participation in the workforce and address the lack of women at the top, half of all Indian business have no programme to support or mentor women, nor do they plan one in the near future.
In Indian companies, human resource director (21 per cent) is the most common role filled by women in senior positions. Eighteen per cent of women representatives occupied other leadership positions in companies. The report states that Indian companies have negligible female representation in senior roles such as general/office manager, director and president/vice president.
The survey finds growing support among businesses for regulation to get women on boards and to facilitate their career paths. Women's representation on corporate boards and executive committees has long been a cause for concern.
According to a study by McKinsey & Co, female representation on executive boards of Indian companies currently stands at a meagre 5 per cent.
Fatema Hunaid, Partner, Transfer Pricing Services, Grant Thornton India, says: "The Companies Act, 2013, is set to have far-reaching implications for corporate boardrooms across India. The provisions of the new Act, which mandates every listed company to have at least one female director within a year, and other companies reporting minimum revenue of Rs 300 crore to have at least one female director within three years, is set to create a wide career pipeline for women to rise up the corporate ladder...open doors for more women candidates for boards."
According to data compiled by Bloomberg, nearly half of the top 100 companies traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange including the biggest two by market value, do not have even a single female member on their boards.
The report also highlights that in an average year, just 14 per cent of graduates hired at mid-level positions in Indian businesses are women, compared to the global figure of 21 per cent. It calls on corporate India to unpack the current male bias in hiring and promotion, saying that is key to increasing diversity.