Woman board member: 180 NSE listed firms failed to comply

Chennai : As many as 180 companies listed on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) have not inducted a woman director so far as required by the Companies Act and officials expect the market regulator to come out with its views and penalties for non-compliance.

The deadline for induction of woman director expired on March 31.

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“At least 180 companies out of 1,456 NSE listed companies that have to comply with the rule of having a woman director have failed to fulfil the requirement,” Pranav Haldea, managing director, Prime Database told IANS over phone from New Delhi.

The company operates in the database space pertaining to the primary capital market, covering fund raising by Indian corporates.

“Perhaps next week, the SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) shall come out with its order on companies that have not complied with the woman director norm,” he said.

Supreme Court advocate and insurance, company, competition law expert D. Varadarajan told IANS: “Simply put, every listed company or every other public company having a paid up capital of Rs.100 crore or more or a turnover of Rs.300 crore or more should have a woman on its board.”

A company and every officer of the company who is in default shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than Rs.50,000 but which may extend to Rs.500,000 under the company law, Varadarajan said.

“This is a positive move to include women in the mainstream of corporate governance,” Rajshree Pathy, chairperson, Confederation of Indian Industry-southern region (CII-SR), told IANS.

Pathy is also the chairperson and managing director of the Coimbatore-based Rajshree Sugars and Chemicals Ltd.

“Women are naturally inclined to think of aspects/dimensions in a business that men sometimes are in denial/ignore for reasons best known to themselves that may impact the performance of the board. Therefore, women could potentially add that extra value,” she said.

Agreeing with her was Haldea, who said: “A woman director would certainly bring a different perspective on varied issues that men may overlook.”

However, he said many companies have inducted close relatives of the promoters to comply with the law.

“However, women on the board merely for the sake of a legislation should not be construed as ‘patronising’ of women,” Pathy said.

She added: “Board members, man or woman should be selected on merit, achievements and for the purpose of adding value to the company. The selection process is important.”

Speaking at a training programme for woman directors, organised by Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ranjana Kumar, former chairman and managing director of Indian Bank, said: “Be assertive and do not get overawed by the company size or other personalities in the board.”

Kumar, who also headed NABARD and Canara Bank, and worked as director in several corporate boards said woman directors should be assertive at the board meeting and their views should be supported by data and facts.

She told the gathering to remember that independent directors represent the shareholders. Kumar also urged aspirants to go through in detail not only the board meeting agenda papers, but also the minutes of previous board meetings.