Only one woman for every eight on India Inc payroll: CFA study

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New Delhi: CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, has released a new study based on BRSR (Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report) disclosures highlighting the persistent gender gap across the field of finance in India. The report, titled “Mind the Gender Gap”, is based on disclosures of 134 companies, encompassing sectors such as financial services, information technology, fast-moving consumer goods and healthcare.

The BRSR framework is a comprehensive set of sustainability disclosures released by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in May 2021. For the first time, Indian companies were asked to report on a variety of topics, such as workforce composition, pay, attrition, and other factors, split by gender.

The disclosures are voluntary for FY2022, and mandatory for the top 1000 companies from FY2023, and will help track progress on these topics. In this report, we analyzed the FY2022 BRSR disclosures of 134 companies, including 26 financial services companies and offer insights into the causes of and recommendations to mitigate the gender gap.

Below are key insights from the study:

  • Indian women’s workforce participation rates, based on the companies in the study’s sample, was one woman for every eight people on payroll.
  • Within financial services companies, women represent 21.7% of employees and 15.9% of key management personnel.
  • Career progression of women in information technology and financial services, which have large workforces and high participation rates, is comparatively low to other sectors.
  • The average ratio of median remuneration of women to men for the companies in the sample was 0.97, suggesting approximate gender pay parity. However, the median remuneration ratio of women to men drops to 0.52 for KMP and to 0.64 for directors.

Given the significant barriers facing women who want to pursue financial careers in India, the study recommends:

  • Companies must improve disclosures, particularly related to median remuneration, to provide additional perspectives on participation, career progression, and potential gaps in remuneration.
  • There is a pressing need to improve diversity within senior management and key management personnel, and companies are encouraged to provide qualitative disclosures on how they are working toward improving career progression for women.
  • In addition to mentorship, sponsorship, as part of a structured plan, is also needed to ensure career progression, to advance both the individuals selected and the strategic needs of the business.
  • There is a need to track the gender diversity of the talent acquisition and talent development pipelines, with a target to increase the diversity of the overall pool every year.

“Women in India face various additional barriers in their careers. And measuring various gender-related parameters in the workplace is a great start to understand the issues, as the annual reports will provide rich time-series data,” said Rajendra Kalur, CFA, Chairperson, CFA Society India.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion lead to better investor outcomes and are essential for creating a strong and vibrant investment management industry. Increasing participation of women in the investment industry as employees and stakeholders, is essential to increase the reach of financial literacy and independence. CFA Institute and CFA Society India are committed to this cause. This report is a step towards raising awareness about of gender gap, through reported data and encouraging conversations in the industry to bridge this gap. In addition, we continue to implement initiatives like the Young Women in Investment, women mentorship program and capability development programs for women, to support their professional growth,” said Arati Porwal, Country Head, India, CFA Institute.

CFA Institute is actively working to advance the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) environment for investment professionals through a range of initiatives in India to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for women wanting to pursue careers in investment management. This includes the Young Women in Investment, a mission-driven and completely free initiative by CFA Institute that offers 40 eligible women an opportunity to enter the field of finance. Participants undergo a four-week intensive boot camp with day-long sessions by professional trainers and industry practitioners. They are offered a stipend-paying internship for six months at a reputed financial institution in India on completion of the boot camp. The boot camp covers subjects such as core finance, business, and soft skills. Applications are open for the 5th edition of the initiative and eligible women can apply at https://www.youngwomenininvestment.com/india on or before 15 March 2023.

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