Citizens' Issues
Discrimination at the workplace: It’s still about your chromosomes

Women are six times less likely than men to hold top ranks in the corporate world, according to a new survey. This despite the fact that companies with more women in the senior management have performed better. Will the divide ever change? 

Talking about gender discrimination at the workplace, Bella Abzug once said: "The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes." Years down the line, the world is yet to imbibe the thought.

According to a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), members of the fair sex are six times less likely than men to hold top ranks in the corporate world. Does this come as a surprise? May be not-the findings don't say very much that's new. But when the pattern persists even after a millennium, it probably merits serious thought.

United Nations comprehensive statistics on women, titled 'The World's Women: Trends and Statistics', released on 20 October 2010, describes a dismal gender divide in almost all areas of life. It reveals that in 2009, out of the top 500 largest corporations in the world only 13 had a female chief executive officer (CEO). It is a known fact that women draw slimmer salaries and enjoy fewer privileges than their male colleagues in almost all countries-the post and level of experience being the same. The divide gets more pronounced after 10 years of service.

Ms Dnyanada, who has been a prominent journalist, says, "The divide I think is more pronounced in India, and it is a shame. Even if in some places where women do get promoted to important positions, it is debatable how much decision making powers actually rest with them."

What are the reasons? Of course, there is the question of balancing familial responsibilities with work, but there are other factors as well. The CIMA survey says women are less likely to seek a change of job, profession or look out for opportunities at some other location, thereby staying in the same place for long. Moreover, while men are more likely to highlight their achievements within the organisation, women often talk about getting help to develop leadership skills even when they are at par with their male colleagues.

But India is a land of contradictions. Some of the most prominent banking and financial positions in the country are held by women. The Reserve Bank of India-the country financial chest and regulator-has a woman as one of its deputy governors, the third woman to occupy this position. Indian Bank made a very successful turnaround during the tenure of Ranjana Kumar as chairman and managing director. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are headed by Chanda Kochchar and Shikha Sharma respectively. Meera Sanyal of ABN Amro Bank, Kalpana Morparia of JP Morgan and Naina Lal Kidwai of HSBC India are among the most-respected names in the field.

Ms Mona Cherian, in HR at Ask Securities, says that ultimately it is the ability of an individual that determines his or her fate. But, there are others who are sceptical about this. Mrs Mahalakshmi DM, head of Professionele Consulting India, says, "The glass ceiling is very much there. Even when we speak of women achievers, most of the time, it is the success of the institutions which contribute to their positions. It is a case of power play, and it is unlikely that any company will see a woman as the boss. Government positions are no exception."

Women at management schools discover that they are left out during placement programmes. Journalism is another interesting field, where women often outnumber men in media houses, but are seldom seen as editors. So, this is very much the common picture.

An encouraging discovery in the CIMA research is that companies which have 30% or more women at the board level or in the senior management, have performed better financially. Women are more adept at conflict resolution, less likely to take high-risk decisions in times of crisis and they are also better participatory leaders.

If only companies would create a better working environment for women, they would have found that it is a worthwhile investment. It's up to the ladies as well, to assert themselves and take the top place that they deserve.



Ram Kumar

6 years ago

Wow How Original....Another female journalist claims women are discriminated against.. Correction Sarma..women loose out because they shirk responsibility claiming family responsibility, "cities are unsafe for women" and other excuses. Corporate India is not going to hand out promotions on a silver platter.You cry babies need to earn it PERIOD!


6 years ago

It is not about women. It is about likely non co-operation in a sickeningly dishonest country and a dog-eat-dog world (read, man's world).
Most women are naturally unhappy about dishonesty. Additionally, they may chose to work hard. This makes them a big threat in 'collusion' and/or in 'succession'.
Therefore they lose out.



In Reply to JS 6 years ago

Point well made Ram. It is Obvious that the lady has a bone to pick with her fraternity. Note her comments "Journalism is another interesting field, where women often outnumber men in media houses, but are seldom seen as editors." Wake up & smell the coffee Shukti Sarma! It is merit that counts! Useless bantering wont get u anywhere.


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Pranab hopeful of further decline in food inflation

New Delhi: The government today said it is hopeful that food inflation, which is already at single-digit level, will come down further, reports PTI.

"Decrease in food inflation is good... I hope it will come down further," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here.

Food inflation fell to a four-month low of 8.60% for the week ended 20th November, as prices of vegetables, wheat and pulses declined on increased output and arrival of kharif crop in the market.

The last time the food inflation was recorded at the single-digit level was for the week ended 24th July, when it came down to 9.53%.

Besides the four-month low, inflation has been dipping for the seven consecutive weeks now.

The fall in food inflation is in line with chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu's projection earlier this week that food prices inflation will come down to single digits, declining beyond 9% for the week ended 20th November.

The decline in food inflation has raised hopes that overall inflation may decline to around 6% by the end of the year, as predicted by the government.


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