With no women on oil PSU boards SEBI sees red

Vol 20, PW 15 (20 Apr 17) People & Policy

India's patriarchal society has a long way to go to achieve real gender equality but stock market watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is determined to force the pace.

SEBI is adamant that state-owned oil companies ONGC, IndianOil and Bharat Petroleum must keep up with the times and appoint women directors on their male-only boards this fiscal which began April 1. A SEBI source tells this report it plans to write to the oil and corporate affairs ministries to ensure compliance with its rule that all companies listed on the BSE or NSE must have at least one woman director on the board from April 1, 2015.

"Big state-owned companies are role models for corporate governance," says our SEBI source. "But they are two years late!" ONGC for instance has 16 directors and IOC has 13 but neither has a single woman.

ONGC director human resources DD Misra was not available as he was travelling. But another senior ONGC source said: "Why are you asking me about a woman director? Ask the government when it will appoint a woman." After the Companies Act of 2013 made it compulsory to appoint woman directors, SEBI set down its own rule in February 2014 with an initial deadline of October 1, 2014, later extended to April 1, 2015.

Any company failing to appoint a woman director on or after October 1, 2015 must pay Rs1.42 lakh ($2200) and another Rs5000/day ($77.47) until it appoints a woman director.