India Inc’s New Gender Math Starts from the Top

Four headhunting firms report 100 live search mandates for women CXOs

India Inc is aggressively trying to improve gender diversity at the top management level with four headhunting firms together reporting nearly 100 live search mandates for women CXO-level executives. This is more than double the number of mandates the four firms they had at the same time last year.

EMA Partners International has 26 client mandates for women at CXO level compared with about 12 a year ago, says A Ramachandran, client partner, EMA PartnersInternational. Global executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles has seen a 60% increase in women CXO searches over the last two years. It now has man dates for about 30 such searches. For Kelly Services, 30% of its CXO mandate from Indian clients is for women candidates, compared to only 10% a year ago. Similarly, at RGF Executive, 40% of CXO mandates are for women. Companies like Mahindra & Mahindra, Hindustan Zinc Limited, Jindal Steel & Power Limited and Schneider Electric have given mandates to search dates to search firms to scout for potential female CXO talent. Jindal Steel is currently scouting for a woman candidate to head its finance department, says director group-HR, Rajeev Bhadauria. MNCs were among the earliest to step up hiring women at senior management levels. But Indian companies are also keen on this now. “Indian promoter driven organisations are on an aggressive bid to get high potential women talent at CXO level,“ says Anindita Banerjee, executive director at RGF Executive Search. “Initially, the whole push came after it became mandatory to have women directors on the board. But this process triggered thinking in this direction.“

“There is a (gender) gap at the senior-most level and most organisations have realised the need for gender diversity at every level,“ says Harsh Mariwala, chairman of Marico Limited. “India needs board-level women representation; so companies are trying to create a pipeline one level below,“ adds Kamal Karanth, managing director, Kelly OCG.

“We will prefer more and more women when it comes to filling up positions with no compromise on merit,“ said Prince Augustin, EVP Group Human Capital & Leadership Development at Mahindra & Mahindra.

While demand for top women talent has gone up rapidly, actual success rate of such searches hasn’t kept pace, say search experts.

RGF Executive Search has seen demand go up by 40%, but success rate is only around 20%, according to Banerjee. Such searches take longer, echoes Karanth of Kelly OCG.

Forum for Women in Leadership (WILL) estimates that 8-10% of senior management leadership in India are women, compared to 22-25% in the US.“There is a lack of understanding on diversity…on why should we have diversity, for innovation, competitiveness, for different ideas and different skills,“ says Poonam Barua, founder chairman, WILL.

Source: The Economic Times

Date: March 31, 2015

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