Women make better leaders, industry speaks

MUMBAI: Haven’t we all heard/read jokes about women driving; however, General Motors, American multinational holding corporation, sealed everyone’s mouth when it announced it’s first-ever woman CEO - Mary Barra.

The 51 year-old has been with the company for over three decades and will take charge from next year. The current CEO Dan Akerson will hand over the charge on 15 January, the announcement was made on 10 December.

There are many women at high positions and who are running the show. If we take a look at the Fortune 500, there are 22 CEOs as per January 2013. Last year, Yahoo had appointed a pregnant Marisa Mayer as its CEO and this year Twitter added former Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino to its board of directors.

Closer home, things aren’t every different as well. From Vinita Bali to Chanda Kochchar to Kumud Srinivasan, there is no dearth of women taking charge. In October this year, State Bank of India too got its first woman CEO in Arundhati Bhattacharya.

The news of Barra’s appointment was applauded by many across the world; however, the company shares fell 0.5 per cent to $40.70 in Tuesday morning trading after the announcement.

This does raise one question: does the glass-ceiling effect still exists? The latest Pantene advertisement released in Philippines puts light on the old-age debate. The 60-seconder highlights how women and men are labeled differently. For instance, a man is the ‘boss’, but a woman in the same role is ‘bossy’. A man grooming himself is ‘neat’, while his female counterpart is ‘vain’. And so on.

The brand which usually depends on celebrities took a brave step to bring out the double standards practiced in the society. spoke to a few men in the industry to get their views if things have changed and which company or sector do they feel needs a woman on top.

According to Everest Brand Solutions president Dhunji Wadia there is no point in segregating by industry. “Women leaders are everywhere - from banking and finance, insurance, FMCG, movie production, television, media, alcoholic beverages, hospitality….the list would be quite long.  It’s on the ability of the individual person.”

Reflecting Wadia’s thoughts, Beyond Dreams Entertainment producer and creative director Yash Patnaik says: “I think all the companies should be run by women. Women are better managers then men. Wherever a man can lead, woman can as well.”

But there are a few who believe that certain sectors need a woman’s touch. Talking about the current issues related to women in the country, Scarecrow co-founder and director Manish Bhatt feels that the shape that public transport is in, it needs a woman to take charge of it. “A lot of crimes against women are happening in public transport; hence, it would be great if a woman took charge as she would be able to understand it better. Similarly, products related to kids (colours, drinks etc) need a woman on top as well because mothers understand a kid better than a man or a father would.”

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