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When law says bring women on board, firms look to home

The Indian Express asked each company about the search process conducted before the appointment.

RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani's wife Nita Ambani was appointed to Reliance Industries board on June 18, 2014. RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani’s wife Nita Ambani was appointed to Reliance Industries board on June 18, 2014.

By September 30, listed companies in the country must have at least one woman on their board — made mandatory by SEBI in line with the Companies Bill 2012.

Data sourced from Prime Database and accessed by The Indian Express shows that while 140 private sector companies have appointed a woman director on their board over the last one year, at least 29 have picked one who is either part of the promoter group or belongs to the promoter’s family.

The Companies Bill, which came into effect in August 2013, proposed women directors to bring gender equality in the board room, and SEBI issued a circular in February 2014 setting a September 30 deadline. A committee on corporate governance constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had said, “(Diversified board) contributes to better performance, since in such cases decisions would be based on evaluating more alternatives compared to homogenous boards… Diversity can widen perspectives while making decisions, avoid similarity of attitude and help companies better understand and connect with their stakeholders.”

Appointing women associated with the promoter groups could defeat the purpose of the exercise. Says Deepak Parekh, HDFC Chairman and a leading voice in the corporate world, “If the woman is competent, then it is not wrong to appoint her. However the nomination committee headed by the independent director should also judge the eligibility, capability, experience of the individual to see whether they fit or not. That process should be there.”

Prithvi Haldea, Prime Database Chairman, says the appointment of family members was “expected”, “and therefore the guidelines should have made it mandatory for companies to appoint only an independent person as woman director”.

Here is the list of women related to their promoter groups appointed by 29 companies to their boards in the past year. The Indian Express asked each company about the search process conducted before the appointment:

Nita Ambani, appointed to Reliance Industries Ltd board on June 18, 2014.
Wife of RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani.
No response to the email sent.

Roshni Nadar, appointed to HCL Technologies board on July 29, 2013.
Daughter of HCL founder and chairman Shiv Nadar.
No response to the email sent.

Amrita Amar Vakil, appointed to the board of Asian Paints on May 14, 2014.
Wife of Amar Vakil, the son of Asian Paints co-founder.
No response to the email sent.

Shobhana Ramachandhran, appointed to Sundaram Finance board on January 27, 2014.
Great granddaughter of T V Sundaram Iyengar, founder of TVS Group.
Response: ‘No comments’.

Sarala Devi Birla, appointed to Century Textiles board on May 5, 2014.
Wife of B K Birla, chairman of Century Textiles & Industries.
No response to the email sent.

Gauri Kirloskar, appointed to Kirloskar Oil Engines board on June 17, 2014.
Daughter of Atul Kirloskar, chairman of Kirloskar Oil Engines.
No response to the email sent.

Bina Modi, appointed to Godfrey Phillips board on April 7, 2014.
Wife of K K Modi, president of Modi Enterprises that includes Godfrey Phillips.
Response: Bina Modi’s appointment is yet to be approved by shareholders at AGM.

Nomita R Chandravarkar, appointed to FDC board on June 2, 2014.
Related to the promoters of FDC Limited and part of the promoter group.
No response to the email sent.

Nawaz Gautam Singhania, appointed to Raymond Ltd board on April 30, 2014
Wife of Gautam Singhania, CMD, Raymond Group
No response to the email sent.

Tripti Arya, appointed to Jindal Saw board on May 17, 2014.
Daughter of Prithvi Raj Jindal, non-executive chairman of Jindal Saw.
Response: ‘Nomination of women from the family on board of directors is not something out of the ordinary. Young, qualified, dynamic and talented women in the family are welcome to be part of business if they are willing to contribute. However, this is not the only resource pool we look to, in the future if it is felt that women from other fields can add value to the board of directors, the decisions will be shaped accordingly’.

Sumita Somany, appointed to HSIL board on May 29, 2014.
Wife of Sandip Somany, Joint MD of HSIL.
No response to the email sent.

Deepshikha Khaitan, appointed to Cera board on March 29, 2014.
Daughter of Vikram Somani, CMD, Cera Sanitaryware.
No response to the email sent.

Shailja Saraf, appointed to Radico Khaitan board on May 30, 2014.
Daughter of Lalit Khaitan, CMD, Radico Khaitan.
No response to the email sent.

Supriya A Rai, appointed to the board of Suprajit Engineering on May 30, 2014.
Related to the promoters of Suprajit Engineering and part of the promoter group.
No response to the email sent.

Kusum Jagdish Gupta, appointed to the board of J Kumar Infraprojects on May 20, 2014.
Wife of Jagdishkumar Gupta, CMD, J Kumar Infraprojects.
No response to the email sent.

Saroj Bhartia, appointed to Jindal Drilling & Industries board on May 24, 2014.
Daughter of the late O P Jindal, founder of Jindal Group.
No response to the email sent.

Sarala Devi Birla, appointed to Century Textiles board on May 5, 2014.
Wife of B K Birla, chairman of Century Enka.
No response to the email sent.

Shikha Daga, appointed to DB (International) Stock Brokers board on May 30, 2014.
Daughter of Shiv Narayan Daga, MD of DB (International) Stock Brokers.
No response to the email sent.

Savita Alla, appointed to the board of Alphageo (India) on May 29, 2014.
Belongs to the promoter group of Alphageo (India).
No response to the email sent.

Roopa Bhoopathiraju, appointed to the board of NCL Industries on May 30, 2014.
Belongs to the promoter group of NCL Industries.
No response to the email sent.

Nitya Mirchandani, appointed to the board of Aries Agro on May 30, 2014.
Wife of Rahul Mirchandani, executive director of Aries Agro.
No response to the email sent.

Juhi Chawla, appointed to Gujarat Sidhee Cement board on May 31, 2014.
Wife of Jay Mehta, vice-chairman, Gujarat Sidhee Cement.
No response to the email sent.

Gangadevi Shankarlal Somani, appointed to Sumeet Industries board in June 2014.
Wife of Shankarlal Somani, CMD, Sumeet Industries.
No response to the email sent.

Vinay Kumari Jain, appointed to PPAP Automotive board on December 26, 2013.
Wife of Ajay Kumar Jain, CMD of PPAP Automotive.
No response to the email sent.

Mira Mehta, appointed to the board of Kilitch Drugs on October 17, 2013.
Wife of Bhavin Mehta of the promoter group of Kilitch Drugs.
No response to the email sent.

Anshu Goyal, appointed to the board of Sita Shree Foods on May 30, 2014.
Wife of Ashish Goyal, belonging to the promoter group of Sita Shree Foods.
No response to the email sent.

Pratibha Arvind Doshi, appointed to the board of Pae Limited on May 27, 2014.
Wife of Arvind Doshi, chairman, Pae Limited.
No response to the email sent.

Nina Bhadrashyam Kothari, appointed to Kothari Petrochemicals board on May 27, 2014.
Wife of Bhadrashyam Kothari, CMD, Kothari Petrochemicals.
No response to the email sent.

Nina Bhadrashyam Kothari was also appointed to the board of Kothari Sugars & Chemicals on May 27, 2014.
Bhadrashyam Kothari is the CMD of Kothari Sugars & Chemicals too.
No response to the email sent.

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