Companies are hiring more women because of ESG

The ESG Factor: Hiring More Women Leaders is a Priority

In a significant shift, corporations and multinational companies operating in India are actively seeking to recruit senior female professionals for key leadership positions. This trend is being driven by a strong focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, as well as pressure from company boards to increase diversity among top executives.

The Rise of Women in the C-Suite : The ESG Factor

According to Atul Vohra, managing partner at the leadership search firm Transearch India, “In nearly 30% of our CXO mandates, it is imperative to identify and hire a woman professional.” Jyoti Bowen Nath, managing partner at executive search firm Claricent Partners, echoes this sentiment, stating that “there is a huge preference for having women candidates in top jobs and more so in the coveted corner room. More than 50% of C-suite mandates come with a strong preference for women in top roles.”

This trend is particularly pronounced in the technology, consumer, consumer-tech, fashion, and luxury sectors, as well as in startups. However, even traditional sectors like manufacturing are now seeking to bring more women into their top leadership ranks.

The ESG Factor

The driving force behind this shift is the increasing emphasis on ESG standards. Companies are recognizing that a diverse leadership team, with a strong representation of women, can better address the complex challenges they face and foster innovation. As Vohra explains, “Companies want a high ESG score and gender diversity is a big piece in it.”

Investors are also playing a crucial role in this trend. They are increasingly inclined to allocate capital to companies that not only generate financial returns but also demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, with gender diversity being a significant factor in their decision-making process.

Overcoming the Talent Gap

The high demand for female leaders, however, is outpacing the available talent pool. Vohra notes that “a search that could typically be completed in 6-7 weeks is now taking 12-15 weeks, depending on availability of a female candidate.” This is pushing up compensation for qualified women executives, as companies compete to attract and retain top talent.

To address this challenge, companies are implementing a multifaceted strategy. This includes mentorship schemes, leadership development programs, and flexible work arrangements. This creates a supportive and inclusive workplace environment that fosters the growth and advancement of women within their ranks.

The Business Case for Gender Diversity

The push for more women in leadership positions is not just about meeting diversity quotas or appeasing ESG-conscious investors. It is a necessity for companies aiming to thrive in an era where social responsibility and effective governance are paramount.

As Meleveetil Damodaran, chairperson of Excellence Enablers, points out, “Diversity and Inclusion are doubtless very important. That should not translate to only selecting women candidates for key positions. Talent should triumph over tokenism which does injustice to genuinely accomplished women.”

Embracing gender diversity at the top helps companies leverage unique skills and perspectives that women bring to the table. This includes adept communication, collaboration, and a holistic problem-solving approach. This, in turn, can enhance organizational resilience, foster innovation, and ultimately drive business success.