What is it about?

Increasing representation of women in higher education and professional careers in India has not resulted in their commensurate advancement into the upper echelons of organizations wherein they continue to face barriers. This work is an initiative to understand how independent women board appointments take place in India.

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Why is it important?

The contributions of this study are manifold. First, it examines the appointment of independent women directors from the lens of human and social capital and their interaction.The findings provide empirical evidence that human capital by itself does not have a significant effect but does so only in conjunction with social capital. Second, it reveals the prevailing unfavorable perceptions about social capital of a woman and the costs she bears unless it rests on legitimacy of strong human capital. Third, it identifies that, ownership structure plays an important role in appointment of independent women director by interaction with their social capital. Finally, this paper provides a new perspective on the endogenous issues of independent women director appointments on corporate boards in India, by drawing out insights based on the “patriarchal ethos” still deeply entrenched in the upper echelons of business and society. This calls for a national debate on the missing spirit of gender egalitarianism, which constitutes the very foundation of corporate governance and as legally promulgated in the Companies Act 2013 which for the first time made it obligatory for certain class of firms to appoint at least one woman on its Board of Directors.


Entry barriers to corporate boards for women are often quite invisible and go much beyond having the right qualifications and experience. Writing this piece with leading ladies who have impacted lives of thousands of women leaders in India and abroad was an enriching experience. This study is a small endeavor from the research community to advance diversity and inclusion on Indian boards.

Dr Arunima Haldar
S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research

Barriers to entry in corporate boards for women are often invisible and rooted in the cultural ethos of a region. There is a need to call out these barriers and promote equal opportunities for women to represent gender diversity in the higher echelons of management.

Sumita Datta
S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Tokenism or realism? Gender inclusion in corporate boards, Equality Diversity and Inclusion An International Journal, March 2020, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/edi-04-2019-0126.
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