Despite years of campaigns around the need for gender balance and inclusivity, women still have glass ceilings to break before they make their way up to the top position in organisations. Or that is what the latest report by diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consulting advocate Avtar Group suggests. 

According to the seventh edition of Avtar & Seramount’s 100 Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI) report, while the representation of women at entry levels continues to increase from 33 per cent in 2017 to 38 per cent in 2022, the female talent pipeline continues to narrow as it goes up the organisational ladder. 

In managerial roles, women representation in 2022 stood at 26 per cent women and further dipped to 18 per cent at the senior managerial level and 17 per cent at the corporate executive level. Women leading business units stagnated at 14 per cent between 2017 and 2022.

The findings cover the top 100 best companies for women in India, of which 33 per cent are Indian companies, while the rest were multinational companies.

“While it gives a great deal of happiness to see the overall percentage of women participation going up, the trend of women in leadership is not a trend that we can feel happy about. Unless you have cultural change happening by way of having women at powerful or influencing positions, the lives of women at the bottom level is not going to improve,” Saundarya Rajesh, Founder-President, Avtar told businessline.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the seventh edition of the BCWI report and the fourth edition of the Avtar & Seramount Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI). The study covered 351 companies spanning different sectors, answering 300 questions across seven key areas.

Key findings

Among other key findings, the BCWI report noted that 34.86 per cent of women hold positions in the companies, as per the gender distribution across levels, as against men who hold 65.14 per cent. 

On the positive side, 75 per cent of the top 100 best companies have formal programmes for returning women/second-career women as against 30 per cent in 2016, when the study was launched. “Over the years, more companies have come forward to embrace the returnship programs as an effective means to improve their gender diversity,” the report noted. 

About 99 per cent of the 2022 BCWI 100 best companies provide fully paid paternity leave – a consistent record being maintained over the last two years.

The 2022 MICI found that in 97.5 per cent of companies on the index, managers are held accountable for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) during the performance review process (up from 95 per cent in 2020). The report noted that all companies on the Index ensured that all their policy documents use unbiased, neutral language. 

Subha V Barry, President of Seramount added, “The Most Inclusive Companies Index places emphasis on identifying and developing diverse talent, utilising best practices in DEI training, holding managers accountable for their DEI results, and more. It is through measures like these that ensure inclusive workplaces are built. We at Seramount are proud to honor these forward-thinking organizations.”