Women still go largely under- represented on corporate boards and hold just 12.4 per cent of board seats in India, slightly lower than the global average of 15 per cent, says a Deloitte report.
The percentage of women in top leadership roles is even lower as they constituted 3.2 per cent of board chairs in India in 2016 while the global average stood at 4 per cent.
Based on a Deloitte analysis covering 132 companies, the number of women on boards in India increased by 4.7 per cent to 12.4 per cent in the past two years.
In India, the revised Companies Act approved in August 2013, for the first time, made it mandatory for all listed companies and other large public limited firms to appoint at least one woman director to their boards.
Moreover, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) also amended its disclosure requirements to include a similar provision.
It requires the boards of directors of all listed companies to have an optimum combination of executive and non-executive directors -- at least 50 per cent non-executive -- with at least one woman director. This has led to an increase in the pace at which women are being appointed to boards.
"Although there are concerns that companies will comply by appointing female relatives of incumbent board members, some companies with progressive outlooks were already appointing women directors to their boards before the law was enacted," the study noted.
The report noted a direct correlation between female leadership -- CEOs and board chairs -- to board seats held by women.
"Organisations with women in the top leadership positions have almost double the number of board seats held by women. The inverse is true as well, with gender diverse boards more likely to appoint a female CEO and board chair," said Dan Konigsburg, Senior Managing Director of Deloitte's Global Center for Corporate Governance.
The report noted that the Asia-Pacific lags other regions in terms of gender diversity. At 8 per cent, gender diversity in some of Asia's leading economies is the lowest compared to other parts of the world. Only a few countries in the region have quotas or other approaches to address the issue.
The fifth edition of Deloitte Global's Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective publication explores the efforts of more than 60 countries to promote boardroom gender diversity.
On behalf of Deloitte Global, MSCI ESG Research Inc collected boardroom diversity data covering nearly 7,000 companies in 44 countries spanning the Asia-Pacific, the Americas, and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). The data were collected as of December 15, 2016.