New era to transcend gender and career barriers

Ranjna Patel – New era to transcend- Ranjna Patel

According to Jan Dawson, Chairperson of Westpac, companies with women directors have higher return on equity, higher return on investment and superior sales than those with no women.

With 73% of household purchasing decisions made by women, it is now essential to have more women directors on boards of companies.

Imagine running an oil company where only one or two of the directors on your board have oil industry experience. Imagine running a computer company where none of the board uses a computer, tablet or smart phone.

Now imagine New Zealand companies running their businesses where less than 7.5% of their boards are women, while nearly 64% of the workforce is women. About 88% had advanced degrees compared with 45% of men.

Amazing women

We have to break our glass ceiling. It is in our DNA, most women do an amazing job at any given task. We nurture and grow, we think outside the square, as quite often we are in situations, especially with children, where all handbooks don’t work!

Our biggest challenge is changing mindset of the mentality of boards as they are now. Diversity is needed, whether its women, age, race or culture.

I speak about cultural diversity in business forums. We started our business in the 1970s in Otara, in days of the machete murders and gangs. It was hard to attract doctors, hence all the obstacles in front us became our opportunity to work differently.

When looking at barriers, where does the pipeline get blocked? Women are more educated in senior management roles.

Large advantage

A majority of businesses in New Zealand are small to medium. The larger an organisation is, the easier it is to define the boundaries for governance. The governing body governs, the chief executive officer/senior management team manages, and the rest of the staff and volunteers engage in operations.

However, in smaller organisations, especially in those organisations without paid staff, it is easy for the governing body to get ‘bogged down’ with questions of short-term management and operations and to lose sight of the need to focus on strategy for the longer-term. In these situations, it is essential to find an effective way of balancing the demands for governance, management and operations, which are all crucial to the organisation’s ultimate success.

As small organisations grow in size and begin to take on paid staff, it is vital for governing body members, who are likely to have been used to ‘pitching in’, to concentrate on their governance role and to allow staff to get on with the jobs for which they have been recruited. This is sometimes difficult.

From my personal experience, as I have been hands on for 40 years and it is hard to let go. I enjoy both, so sometimes independence on Boards is very important. This is in my business, but being on the Board of Bank of Baroda, has given me a new insight.

New era to transcend-Ranjna Patel with Dr Rajen Prasad and Vino RamayahAnd if you are looking at growing don’t line up people that think like you, look like you and act like you. You will get the same result.

To the women in the audience- Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “Women are the real architects of society, and look at each one of us here. ‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

I would like to finish with what Sir Anand Satyanand said, quoting Helen Clark, “Lets Rest our compass for 2015.”

Ranjna Patel is Director, East Tamaki Health Care Group and Director, Bank of Baroda. The above is an edited version of her speech as ‘Reflections’ at the Fifth Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture on Monday, July 27, 2015 at Pullman Hotel Auckland. Read related reports in this Section.

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Photo :

  1. Lady Susan Satyanand with Ranjna Patel at our Lecture
  2. Ranjna Patel with Dr Rajen Prasad (left) and Vino Ramayah

(Pictures by Narendra Bedekar & Sai Bedekar)

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