Global Investor

Not on board

Arvind Jayaram | Updated on January 24, 2018


Women are under-represented in the Indian workforce

Securities market regulator SEBI’s warning to listed firms to appoint at least one woman director on their board or face a hefty fine is intended to address the gender bias at the highest echelons of India Inc.

But female representation in India’s workforce is woefully skewed if you go down the corporate ladder too.

World Bank data shows that just 14.7 per cent of the permanent full-time workforce in India is comprised of women.

That compares poorly with the rest of the world, where they make up approximately one-third of the total full-time permanent workforce.

More pronounced

The gender bias is more pronounced in the manufacturing sector, where the proportion of women in the total workforce is just 12.1 per cent, while the services sector is more open to female staff, though the representation is still lower than the world and South Asia average.

It is also apparent from the data that women are often preferred for non-production roles at the workplace.

It is important to note that even though 10.7 per cent of Indian companies are owned by women, just 8.9 per cent have a female top manager, indicating that women entrepreneurs may not be actively seeking women for top positions.

Power women

But what’s interesting is that the percentage of firms with a top female manager in India is equivalent to the proportion seen in the rest of South Asia.

Globally, 36 per cent of firms have a woman stakeholder and 18 per cent of them have a top female manager.

This data was compiled on the basis of a survey of 9,281 Indian firms between June 2013 and December 2014, including 2,925 small firms with staff strength of 5-19 employees, 4,081 medium size firms with 20-99 employees and 2,275 large companies with 100 or more employees across the country.

Published on March 29, 2015

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