Women missing from boardrooms of most valuable companies

Zee Research Group/ Delhi

As Nita Ambani joins the board of Reliance Industries from June 18, the company has pushed ahead of most valuable companies like TCS and ONGC which are yet to have a single woman member on their boards.

According to SEBI norms, every listed firm should have at least one woman director on its board by October 1, 2014.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis of Sensex (Index has 30 companies) reveals that six companies (20 per cent) don’t have a single woman on corporate boards. The list includes Cipla, Hero Motocorp, L&T, ONGC, TCS and HUL.

Interestingly, Unilever PLC (parent company of HUL) has five women directors in the boardroom. Out of the remaining 24 companies listed on Sensex, 21 (70 per cent) have a single seat for women in boardrooms.

In the list of top-10 companies (in terms of market capitalisation), apart from TCS and ONGC, Larsen & Toubro, too, doesn’t have a single woman director in the boardroom.

Regarding absolute women strength at board levels, Bharti Airtel and Axis Bank each emerged leaders with three women directors followed by Infosys (two).

Renowned women directors on boards of Sensex-30 companies include Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, Renu Sud Karnad, MD of Housing Finance Development Corporation, Shikha Sharma, MD and CEO of Axis Bank, and Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman of State Bank of India.

Sujata Prasad and Shyamala Gopinath are two women directors being nominated by the government on the board of Coal India and GAIL, respectively. Further, Harinder Hira is on the board of BHEL as a Part-time Non-official Director.

Among promoter women family members joining the board the list is long. Besides Nita Ambani, wife of Mukesh Ambani, joining the board of RIL, Rajashree Birla, mother of Kumar Mangalam Birla is a director on the board of Hindalco.

Of late, it seems that the trend related to member of promoter family taking up board positions is on the rise. In May 2014, Sarala Birla, wife of Basant Kumar Birla, was appointed as a board member of Century Textiles and Industries. Similarly, in April 2014, Bina Modi, wife of KK Modi, was inducted as an Additional Director of Godfrey Phillips India.

While India Inc is busy in inducting woman directors to meet the SEBI norm, it might be a wakeup call for TCS, India’s most valuable company.

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