They are professionals in their own right, they have done as well as their male counterparts (and even better!), and they have risen from the ranks.
They count among leading corporate executives, bankers, lawyers and academicians. And, now they are among the most sought-after in the boardrooms of leading listed companies.
More so, after the Companies Act 2013 and SEBI guidelines that followed made it mandatory for all listed companies to have at least one woman on their boards — either as an executive or a non-executive director — before April 1, 2015.
Most of these women were already on the boards of well-known companies long before the law mandated quotas for women. Now they find themselves busier, in a position where they have to turn down invitations from companies to join their boards.
Among India’s busiest women directors are former Indian Institute of Management professor Indira Parikh; HDFC Managing Director Renu Sud Karnad; and former ICICI Securities MD and CEO Ramni Narula. Each of them currently sits on boards of seven listed companies, according to data compiled by Prime Database from stock exchange filings and curated for BusinessLine .
Former Director and General Manager of General Insurance Corporation Bhagyam Ramani; former SBI Deputy Managing Director Bharati Rao; former Senior Managing Director of Blackstone Group Punita Kumar Sinha; and former FICCI Executive Vaijayanti Pandit hold board positions in six listed companies each.
Similarly, former Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank Ranjana Kumar, who was also the first woman to head a public sector bank; former Deputy Governor of RBI Kishori Udeshi; former McKinsey partner Ireena Vittal; and former PepsiCo India Executive Director Vibha Paul Rishi are among those who have accepted board positions in five public listed companies each.
Their board positions are not limited to just listed companies, they sit on boards of a few unlisted companies too
An exception among these women is Rajashree Birla, mother of Kumar Mangalam Birla; she sits on the boards of seven AV Birla group companies, of which only two appointments (to the boards of Century Textiles and Century Enka) were made after the law on women directors took effect.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon, another sought-after director, sits on the boards of Infosys, United Breweries and Narayana Hrudayalaya Ltd, besides Biocon and its associates.
Several women directors, whose services are just as much in demand, have chosen to accept fewer positions as they hold day jobs –– as corporate executives, bankers, lawyers, academicians, chartered accountants and consultants. What is clear is that reputed listed companies have actively sought out professional women of stature, who can offer strategic inputs and advice, even as they complied with the law.
However, there are also hundreds of companies that have ticked the box on compliance, and appointed female relatives with no previous exposure to business to board positions.
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