Are Corporates anti-women?

A friend’s company recently published this article on Harvard Business Review. Here’s an excerpt –

New research by our firm, Catalyst, shows that among graduates of elite MBA programs around the world—the high potentials on whom companies are counting to navigate the turbulent global economy over the next decade—women continue to lag men at every single career stage, right from their first professional jobs. Reports of progress in advancement, compensation, and career satisfaction are at best overstated, at worst just plain wrong.

The report stated that there is not much correlation between child bearing and career growth for women, there was not any significant indicator as to why women are at a junior position v/s men on the same career path. The only indicator which showed bias was the entry roles offered to women, where they had to prove their worth to the organization before being taken for higher roles (10% women were accepted at higher level roles v/s 19% men were accepted at higher level roles).

To know more of the scenarios that is in corporate India, I did some secondary research (read googling) and came with some interesting articles. This one says that the condition of women in India Inc. is no different, some excerpts –

Surprise? Not really, as experts say that a bare three per cent women occupy senior positions in private companies across India. And most of the companies only have five to six per cent women employees. What is more, a national daily quoted Pallavi Jha, former chairperson of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) (Maharashtra Region) as saying; “A study on women graduates of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, showed that more than 70 per cent do not pursue a career.”

A study conducted in 2007 revealed that this discrepancy is not only observed in the lower echelons of company management, but even more so at senior management levels.

Out of the 9,000 people on boards of the BSE-listed companies, only five are women. Indian companies seriously lack women in senior management roles, HR consultants say.

If one has to change this, then who does the responsibility lie with? The women to achieve more? The men to give women a fair chance? The organizations to level the odds for both the genders? The education system? Or the society to change their mindset?

  • Interesting article. You know something? I had the exact same conversation with a couple of friends over dinner a few days back. Where does this stem from? I think the eco-system as such propels the idea of a male dominant society even when it comes to the work place. For example, I know so many women, who just conveniently compromise on their career for various reasons. Like their husband’s career is more important than their own, or family is a priority, or that they simply now want to take a break from the corporate life.

    Even when it comes to cultural impact – the western world sees everyone working for themselves (mostly), culturally – in our country we see more housewives, hence the idea of pursuing a career is never at the forefront, unless the woman is extremely headstrong and clear about what she wishes to do with her professional aspirations.
    So to answer your question – the responsibility lies with
    1. the women herself (since she is fighting the society at this level as of now)
    2. Her family (which should support her in all her endeavors)
    3. The organizations (but this already exists in some corporates – like I work in a company which is swamped with women)

  • good article kida…i think the scenario is changing and this is too little a time to measure a paradigm shift. Compare the current %s with that of a decade back, and i am sure it will be green. The tribe of career committed women are still growing and in the growth stage of life cycle…probably 7-8 years later, you will find a lot of these women occupying top tiers.

  • @LC – I agree with you to an extent. But I also want to add society to that list.

    @Don – I disagree, the changing scenario is an argument oft stated earlier. Infact the HBR article I linked takes some effort into blowing this “it will take time” alibi. Do read it!!

  • Vidyut

    good read. But I think that Child bearing has an impact on women’s career growth. At least this is true for me. My career is at a halt since the birth of my baby. Many times women have to compromise career for child care.

  • pallavi

    okay,since I never worked with a MNC I don’t know if they are anti women or not but as I have some of them as clients I really don’t think its true!

    It is women, women and more of our species you see in every department! from the ground level ( I mean security) to the top positions.

    btw in the media industry if not more at least 50% of them are women!

    So yeah it might just take for the ratio to equal as those of men but it is steadily growing…

    PS: in our society at some level or other the fight is not going to be easy for us, for simple reasons that though menfolk offer a helping hand yet a chunk of home front responsibities comes on our shoulders :)

  • @Vidyut – I would agree. Even my wife had to compromise on her career for our child. However, the study suggests otherwise – women who were single or were not having children still were lagging behind their male colleagues. There is some kind of bias there in the system, dont you think?

    @Pallavi – thats what the friend whose company posted the initial article said about the Indian scenario.

  • I think the responsibility lies with women themselves. I dont think the MNCs or for that matter even the Indian corporates are anti-women. Though I agree that women today are bound more by socio-cultural boundaries than by a handful of chauvinistic men.

    Vidyut has a point, very important point.