It’s fine and dandy that in America we have Hillary Clinton, the first woman to stand a good chance of becoming President of the United States.
But at Indian banks we have many Hillarys.
Several CEOs or top honchos of major Indian banks are women.
The latest woman to take the helm at a big Indian bank is Zarin Daruwala, who was named Chief Executive of Standard Chartered’s India operations on November 17, 2015.
Other prominent women chief executives in Indian banks include Shika Sharma, CEO of Axis Bank; Chanda Kochha, CEO of ICICI Bank; Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairwoman of State Bank of India; Aisha De Sequeira, Co-CEO of Morgan Stanley; Kalpana Morparia, CEO of JP Morgan Chase India; Kaku Nakhate, President and Country Head, Bank of America Merrill Lynch India; and Naina Lal, Chairperson of HSBC India.
If we include names of those who have retired, the women CEO count at Indian banks would rise further.
How is that in India that women, who still face a lot of trouble and discrimination in their daily lives, have managed to rise to the top of several Indian banks?
In part, the answer lies in corporate history. Women who have recently become CEOs of public sector banks are in their mid-50s and joined banks in the 1970s and 1980s when banks were among the few avenues open to ambitious women workers.
In Indian private sector banks, women who rose to the top are relatively younger and come with impressive qualifications and experience.
The other logical explanation is that banks in India provide a conducive work environment where women don’t hit the glass ceiling like they do in other lines of work.
More importantly, Indian banks likely offer a work environment where women can balance the pressures of both family and work.
Finally, women tend to be more conservative in finance and less prone to making wild bets on crazy financial instruments that have wrecked dozens of financial institutions in both the U.S. and India over the last two decades.
Now if only the status of Indian women would improve in all other walks of life!