The appointment of Rekha Menon as chairperson of Accenture’s board of directors is an important milestone for corporate India. It is not a first, but it is an important statement being made by a global MNC at a time when India Inc. is scrambling to appoint women directors, leave alone elevating women to chair their boards!  Menon has played a key role in talent management in various technology-led companies from Cargill to Accenture, and this elevated role is a recognition of her professional competence.

The SEBI mandate to publicly listed companies to co-opt at least one woman director has met with mixed response. About 88 per cent companies listed on the NSE have complied with the directive. Whilst many have made token appointments, others have responded with responsible and progressive intent. In fact, when I joined the board of Infosys, I stepped in to fill a position vacated by a sole woman director. Less than two years later, the board has three independent women directors balanced by four independent male directors. 

My own board, in recent times, has paid greater attention to enrolling women nominees for board positions than in the past. There is a perceptible shift in thinking in male-dominated boardrooms of corporate India, which in part is driven by regulations, but for the greater part is influenced by a ‘nudge’ from their peer group who have benefited from the induction of highly professional women board members. In fact, a recent survey by HRservices provider Randstad has found that the majority of HR leaders in India think that more women in leadership is a ‘critical success factor’ for organisations. 

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