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Cover Story
As Shatter-Proof as Ever!
Women have broken a lot of Gender Barriers in Society, But The Glass ceiling is not Exactly in that List Yet
Issue Date - 17/03/2011
But sadly, the progress of women in advancing to top management is not as impressive as it should be. A report titled Accelerating Board Diversity Globally, released by Corporate Women Directors International in 2010, indicates that there still is significant under-representation of women on corporate boards around the world. Among the 51 countries included in the report, only one has succeed in having over 30% female representation on corporate boards. Norway reports that 100% of their boards include 40.3% female representation. Canada lags with only 60% of corporate boards reporting approximately 14% female representatives, which is only a improvement over the past 10 years. Approximately 30% of boards in India report female representation, and the average female representation is only 5.3%.

Clearly there is work to be done.

Leadership on Trial: A Manifesto for Leadership Development, a report recently released by the Richard Ivey School of Business, Professors Jeffrey Gandz, Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts and I share what we learned from a nine month research project following the financial crisis of 2008. We found that one of the most critical failures of the organizations that fared badly during the crisis was a culture marked by lack of ‘constructive dissent’. In other words, many of these organizations, especially their executive teams, were afflicted by groupthink, which occurs when leadership teams and boards achieve consensus without critically testing, analysing, and evaluating ideas.

The many reckless and often disastrous decisions taken at senior management levels in financial and other organizations during the crisis illustrate the power of groupthink to distort reality. Lulled into a false sense of superiority by past successes, these executive teams came to believe that they would never lose. They viewed their actions and decisions as rational and correct, while everyone else was wrong. Consequently, the opinions of others outside the team were not valued and often denigrated. Inside the team, members avoided controversy because they wanted to be seen as team players.

The catastrophic aftermath of the financial crisis is a clear indication of where organisation with such a handicapped vision ultimately end up.

Building greater diversity and more female representation into organizations is one clear way to enhance a culture where constructive dissent and innovation becomes an inherent positive cultural attribute.

I believe, and the ground breaking research proves me right, that organizations benefit tremendously when women advance to leadership positions. The risks of ignoring this research are costly for all leaders, organizations and governments around the globe.

Coordinated By : Deepti Singh
Of Endurance and Aggression
An Entrepreneur in The Pre-Liberalisation era, that too a Woman, Kiran mazumdar shaw had a real tough time to start with. Nevertheless, as an aggressive visionary she kept Moving to become one of the World’s 100 most Powerful Women

In a country which has both women attaining dizzying heights of success in their fields as well as women who do not have access to basic requirements like health and education – compassion, sensitivity, multi-tasking abilities and the inner strength to excel are the only attributes that can help a woman reach the zenith. Meet such a sparkling woman, Kiran Mazumder Shaw, MD and Chairman, Biocon, whose journey of building the company has been about experimentation, learning, and trying out ideas to defeat the countless challenges that are a part and parcel of a developing country’s business environment.

Like most other start-ups, Biocon too faced the initial hiccups during the pre-liberalisation era. Recalls Kiran, “No bank wanted to lend me, no one wanted to work for me and nobody thought I should be taken seriously.” Realising that there are no shortcuts to success, she started from the scratch in 1978. And within just a year of inception, Biocon was the first company to manufacture and export enzymes to the US and Europe.

She has always been a quick learner and visionary. So, by 1998, when she felt that the potential in enzymes is limited and an exponential growth from a turnover of Rs.750 million was next to impossible, with an urge to look at some other products based on the technology that they had developed for enzymes, she shifted Biocon’s focus to Bio-pharma segment – a move that turned out to be the key revival strategy for Biocon. It charged ahead on a high growth trajectory growing at a CAGR of 100% for six consecutive years to become a Rs.5 billion company by 2004. Harping on the fact that Biocon’s business model hinged on “developing affordable innovative solutions with a lot of local relevance, but a huge global impact,” the company decided to develop new molecules and worked to bring down the costs of critical drugs. Having reached the Rs.5 billion mark, she realised the need of scale and size in order to carve a niche on the global map, and thus went for an IPO in 2004. The response from investors was overwhelming for the company and at close on the listing day, the stock was trading at Rs.484.35 as against offer price of Rs.315 (upper limit of IPO price band) making Biocon a billion-dollar company in terms of market value.


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