Diversity Is Being Invited to the Party, but Inclusion Means Being Asked to Dance

Business Wire IndiaOdgers Berndtson held a round table with prominent women leaders on Gender Diversity in India. The white paper – “Gender Diversity in India ” attempts to reflect the roundtable discussion and is published with the intent to spark conversations on gender diversity for the benefit of all.

Clearly, assembling diverse leadership teams should be a top priority for businesses that intend on building back stronger in the wake of Covid-19. Diverse leadership teams perform better financially, have a competitive advantage when recruiting for talent, and benefit from lower employee turnover were key points brought out in the paper.
“Odgers Berndtson has a critical role to play in promoting diversity at the leadership level of organisations. We present a suitable diverse pool of candidates and work in collaboration with the Board, CEO and HR leadership of the client to ensure selection and closure,” said Dr. Prasad Medury, Managing Director – India, Odgers Berndtson
The 2020 Global BoardEx report on gender balance revealed that only 18% of board members were female in listed companies on the BSE Sensex. This compares to a global average of 27% amongst the 26 indexed companies. Setting low benchmarks at an organisational level & deepening the talent pool of women are some of the immediate concerns for business leaders.
It is only by having a diverse set of opinions that unique solutions can be brought to the table. At an organisational level it is important to create enabling systems so that diverse opinions can be heard. The responsibility of women leaders to advance the cause of women representation at the board level was also highlighted.
There are clear biases at work. A practical example shared was if a woman candidate negotiates for the industry benchmark in terms of pay, she would often be regarded negatively as money minded. This would not have been the case for a male counterpart in the same situation, who would be praised for his assertiveness. So when it comes to pay equality, it is definitely an organisational culture issue. HR can drive pay equality up to a certain point but equal pay needs to be addressed at the leadership level, as it is an issue that impacts the organisation as a whole. To begin with, diversity should not just be a tick-box exercise. Towards this, training is required at every level. A person who manages a team should have a clear understanding of why diversity is important for the success of the organisation.
For more insights on gender diversity read the entire report here. The paper has received valuable insights from pioneering women leaders such as Anita Belani, Independent Director and Co-Founder Emotionally, Bhavana Bindra, Independent Director & Fmr. MD DSM India, Gita Nayyar, Independent Director & Senior Advisor – Fulcrum Ventures, Hiroo Mirchandani, Independent Director on corporate boards & Fmr. Business Unit Director Pfizer India, Naina Lal Kidwai, Independent Director & Fmr. Country Head HSBC India, R. M. Vishakha, MD & CEO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance, and Uma R Krishnan, MD & co CEO – Barclays Global Service Centre.
Odgers Berndtson delivers executive search, assessment and development to businesses and organisations varying in size, structure and maturity around the world. The firm has specialist practices which focus on over 50 sectors, commercial, public and not-for-profit, involving partners and their teams in 30 countries.
In India, Odgers Berndtson has offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and works with multinational and regional organisations to discover and develop leaders with the talent to capitalise on India’s growing markets.
Odgers Berndtson BoardEx. 2020. Global Leadership Team Gender Diversity Report. BoardEx.

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