Hiring of women in C-suite roles going up: Survey

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New Delhi: This could be heartening news for women executives aspiring to reach the top as also for the diversity efforts being made by India Inc. The number of women hired in C-suite roles has moved up. Now around 16% of all women hires are CXOs, and 8% are CEOs or MDs, a survey by Executive Access, done exclusively for TOI, showed. A decade back the number of women CEOs was around 2%, while their percentage in CXOs was 7-8%.
Women are moving up the ladder in terms of top roles in marketing and finance – job functions which are typically traditional male bastions. But, the real litmus test of diversity is how inclusive the sectors like manufacturing, construction and project management are, HR experts told TOI.

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“The good news is that there has been progress particularly during the last three years, though much more needs to be done. With the momentum likely to grow stronger, the figure in next three-four years is likely to increase by minimum 50-60% because there are outstanding capable women waiting in the wings. There is no paucity of high quality women talent today,” said Ronesh Puri, MD, Executive Access (India). The survey covered 1615 placements in over 1200 companies from January 2023 to mid-February this year.
“Women are moving up the ladder in terms of top roles in marketing, project management and finance, where typically they have been largely absent so far. There has been an uptake in finance roles- a male-dominated territory. Women are coming up in finance roles, where those armed with MBAs can also fulfill.
The diversity quotient is higher in senior roles related to sustainability and ESG, while earlier it was just CSR. There has been an improvement in senior leadership roles in manufacturing and technical functions too. One of our plants in chemicals manufacturing unit in Gujarat is staffed entirely with women. We have started the journey with a special focus on hiring and grooming women for executive leadership. ” Sandeep Girotra, executive director & CHRO, DCM Shriram said.
Widening the talent pool, empowering women to access leadership roles and creating a more inclusive work environment, can drive better business outcomes, said experts.
“If we don’t embrace diversity, we are missing half the talent pool. While the sectors like IT, ITeS, financial services, banking, telecom etc have high diversity quotient due to the nature of the work, the real litmus test of diversity is how inclusive and diverse the sectors, like manufacturing, construction, projects etc are. Organisations will have to take concrete steps and make it attractive for women to work on the shop floor. The second metric we have to track is the number of women dropping out of the workforce after marriage and once they have children,” Prem Singh, president – group HR, JK Organisation & president, National HRD Network said.
At JK Organisation, about 35-40% of the management trainees recruited each year are women, he added.
Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE) chairperson and MD, Mallika Srinivasan and Kinetic Green, the EV making arm of Kinetic group, led by Sulajja Firodia Motwani, are a few examples of women leaders in manufacturing companies. Recently, FMCG company Dabur set up an all-women production line at its largest-ever greenfield plant near Indore.
According to research from Harvard Business Review Research, women in leadership positions are perceived just as – if not more – competent as their male counterparts. In an analysis of thousands of 360-degree assessments, women were rated as excelling in taking initiative, acting with resilience, practicing self-development, driving for results, and displaying high integrity and honesty. In fact, they were thought to be more effective in 84% of competencies that we most frequently measure.
It is not surprising that a majority of the hires in corporate communications function are women (see graphic). They have a natural flair to this function as they are better communicators, Puri adds.
Women have a natural instinct for finance but somehow seem to prefer HR, marketing and corporate communication. Technology and supply chain are other functional areas that saw hardly any women talent being hired at the top.


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