Women still Face Leadership Gaps in Senior Management Roles finds Report

By: WE Staff

Despite women's empowerment and startups in India, gender imbalance persists in leadership positions, necessitating a shift towards women-led sectors to address the current business climate.

India has seen a rise in women entering the workforce, driven by education, policies, and economic potential. However, a leadership gap persists, with women underrepresented in executive roles and decision-making positions. This highlights gender bias and structural barriers, but also potential for economic growth. Bridging this gap is crucial for sustainable development and in order to achieve true gender equality in the workplace. India's business landscape has witnessed significant gender imbalance, with women only occupying 25 per cent of senior positions globally. This is particularly evident in healthcare management, where despite 29 per cent of female doctors and 80 per cent in nursing roles, there is a persistent under-representation of executive and board equity, including survival, education, and financial inclusion.

Reports on Women's Representation in the Workforce:

According to a recent study by LinkedIn and The Quantum Hub, more women are indeed joining the workforce in India, contributing to a rise in overall representation. India's workforce representation has grown from 23.9 per cent in 2016 to 26.8 per cent in 2024, but leadership gaps persist, with women in senior leadership roles increasing from 16.6 per cent to 18.7 per cent in 2023, however, slightly declining to 18.3 per cent in 2024. Women in India continue to face barriers in reaching top leadership roles.

Deloitte's Women @ Work 2024 report highlights global factors impacting women's careers, including increased stress, mental health stigma, long working hours, and menstruation challenges, with slightly higher mental well-being among Indian women. The study is based on the views of 5,000 women across 10 countries that these critical workplace and societal factors impact women's careers.

State of Women's Employment in India (Careernet Report) mentions that India's women's employment rate increased to 37 per cent in 2022-23, a significant increase from 23.3 per cent in 2017-18, with higher rates in Hyderabad, Pune, and Chennai. Opportunities are growing in the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) sector, particularly within Global Capability Centers (GCCs). In addition to these, the S&P Global Report shows a 26 per cent increase in women's representation in Indian organizations in 2023, while globally, women make up 39 per cent of the workforce.

Driving Efforts & Commitment to Change:

Geeta Karnik, CFO mentions, "Balancing profitable growth amidst intensified emphasis on digital transformation & preparing the organization for future ESG (environmental, social, & governance) considerations presents a significant challenge."

Inclusive workplaces for women require intentional efforts and commitment to change. Strategies include diverse hiring practices, equal pay and benefits, leadership development programs, inclusive policies and culture, training and awareness workshops, employee research groups (ERGs), and ensuring women's representation in decision-making bodies. These efforts aim to address gender pay gaps, provide flexible work arrangements, parental leave, and childcare support, and encourage women to take on challenging assignments.

Above all, the utmost point to shorten the gender gap is equal pay and providing the required benefits. Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder of TeamLease Services, argues that India's women's employment situation is unique due to rising education levels and the pandemic, which has led to lower labor force participation in urban areas. The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) shows a decline in women working in regular salaried jobs in urban India from 54 per cent in Q1 to 52.8 per cent in Q2 of the current fiscal year. However, self-employed women's percentage increased from 39.2 per cent in Q1 to 40.3 per cent in Q2 of FY24, while casual workers' percentage slightly increased from 6.8 per cent to 6.9 per cent. The labor force participation rate among women in urban areas has reached a six-year high of 24 per cent but is lower than in rural areas. Labor economist KR Shyam Sundar suggests women often work to supplement family income, despite a structural transformation in India's labor market.