35% of senior business roles women hold in startups compared with 20% across India Inc: Survey
New Delhi: India’s new-age companies seem to be leading the way in gender diversity. A survey of 100 startups commissioned by ETreveals that 35% of senior management roles are held by women and 13% of CEOs/company leaders at these startups are women. The study was conducted in collaboration with talent assessment and capability building firm Jombay.
Across India Inc, only 20% of senior business roles are held by women, and the country ranks fifth lowest globally on having women in leadership roles, according to Grant Thornton’s Women in Business report 2018 that was shared with ET and will be released on Thursday. While the percentage of senior roles held by women in India in the Grant Thornton survey increased from 17%, extending a consistent improvement year on year from 14% in 2014, startups are way ahead of the curve.
The higher presence of women in startups doesn’t seem to be driven by the active pursuit of a diversity agenda. More likely, it’s the result of trying to find the best person for the job, said company founders and recruiters. “It’s a mindset and everything else falls into place,” said Mohit Gundecha, CEO of Jombay. “The first step is to recognise women as the asset that they are.”
Sairee Chahal, the founder of Sheroes, a career services platform for women, attributes the increase in numbers to startups roping in women for operational roles. “Most founders are techies, and we see a host of women taking up the operational roles in startups, putting the framework for scaling businesses,” Chahal says, drawing parallels with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg hiring Sheryl Sandberg, who’s chief operating officer at the social media giant.
Hari TN, human resources head at Big-Basket, sees the trend at his startup—it has at least five women functional heads out of 12. “Startups tend to focus on picking up the right person for the job. These women obviously are the right people for the jobs they are in,” Hari said.
Founder CEO of three-year-old startup FreshMenu, Rashmi Daga, has an equal number of men and women in functional head roles. The heads of HR, finance, product, catalogue and the call centre are all women. “As startups, we hire not for diversity, but for competence,” Daga said, attributing the rise to women’s ability to bring about stability despite tough situations.
This has nothing to do with a diversity agenda, said Chahal. “It’s the demand of business, and operational bandwidth efficiency that is pushing the number of women in startups,” she said.
The Jombay survey reveals that women in leadership roles in startups are younger than their male counterparts, indicating that they reach leadership levels earlier. The average age of women at functional head and above levels is 34 years, while for men the average age is 36 years.
The average tenure of women at CEO to business head levels is 40 months, slightly shorter than that of men at 42 months. A significantly higher percentage of women are more educated than men for the same position. Nine out of 10 women at the senior level are postgraduates compared to 77% for men, the survey reveals.
The survey included 100 startups that got funded in the past year.
“This, to us, reads that women are achieving higher education as well as higher positions faster than men. This trend shows good promise to improve our gender diversity ratios overall,” Gundecha said. The survey included 100 startups that got funded in the past year.
Once the startups were selected, Jombay collected and studied the data regarding the hierarchy of these organisations.