Whether it is Muthoot Finance, Bajaj Finserv or Kotak Mahindra Bank, most of the big names within the finance and banking sector of India have one thing in common – the fact that they were founded by men. Looking at the pattern, it is clear that the world of finance has been viewed as patriarchal and in fact, bias against women at workplace in terms of salaries is nothing unheard of. However, times are finally changing and over the recent years, emergence of companies headed by women leaders has been a rising trend.
Hardika Shah is one such woman who has been breaking through the glass ceilings especially within the lending circuit of MSMEs. Having witnessed the plight of small business owners in keeping collateral for acquirement of loans, she launched Kinara Capital. The company offers loans to small scale entrepreneurs without the need of collateral, thus helping them build or boost their business. Ever since its inception in 2012, Kinara Capital has disbursed over 50,000 loans worth around Rs 1703 crore and has been instrumental in creating new jobs as well in the fin-tech sector. The most unique part? Its management team mainly comprises of women.
While women like the founder of Kinara Capital have left their lucrative corporate jobs to be a boss of their own within the finance circuit, there are others who have been breaking the norm of men taking the hot-seat of managing director. In this regard, former chairperson and managing director of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar is an apt example. It is not every day that we hear of women taking up the role of CEO or managing director, however, she was not just a banker but a great one at that because she has revolutionised Indian banking sector in some ways. Leveraging her banking expertise and experience, Kochhar has been instrumental in steering ICICI Bank during the 2008 global financial crisis.
Falling in the same lines is Naina Lal Kidwai, who served as the Group General Manager and Country Head of HSBC India. She was also the first Indian woman to have graduated from Harvard Business School and the former chairperson of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) India.
From women taking on leadership roles to the changing workplace culture at various companies, what once was a relatively male-dominated sector, is now slowly changing for the better. Organisations are increasingly embracing diversity and inclusion whether it is in terms of work environment, policies or benefits. However, despite all these feats, many financial firms are yet to achieve a greater representation of women leaders. The gap can be closed by increasing and accelerating female representation at the highest level because there is a strong correlation between women’s representation in leadership positions and hiring rates of females at all levels. When more women are hired on higher roles, more women get hired across the board and this can create a deeper bench of female talent to the most junior positions.