The rising tide, expressed as an increasing number of women receiving appointments onto boards of directors, is now well-established. Some countries (Norway, Germany, for example) have driven change via quotas, whereas others (Australia) have utilised peer pressure by requiring companies to report the gender mix of their boards in annual reports. Others are just getting on with it.
The latest drive, in India, has seen some interesting behaviours emerge. The Indian Companies Act now requires every board of every publicly listed company to have at least one female director, with a compliance deadline of 31 March 2015. The Bloomberg reporter used "scramble" to describe recent behaviours, as if to imply that the motivation to appoint female directors is driven by compliance rather than performance. While the scramble may satisfy the statute, and some inspired appointments will be made, there is a very real risk that some boards will be encumbered with a 'token' female who does not have sufficient skill and expertise to contribute effectively.
If companies and societies are serious about achieving high business performance, then at least three things probably need to happen:
If these things (and others, no doubt) occur, then the unhelpful patterns of behaviour witnessed in India will, hopefully, be consigned to history. However, this hope is predicated on an underlying [cultural] change taking place, whereby the focus of shareholders and boards moves from conformance and compliance, to performance. Is this something worth pursuing, or might it be a bridge too far?
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Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and boardcraft; our place in the world; and other topics that catch my attention.