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Whether men on board are ready to share power

Zahid Mubarik SHRM-SCP, SPHRi, GPHR

He is the CEO of HR Metrics and SHRM Partner in Pakistan. He has mastery in HR analytics. He is the only HR Leader from South Asia to become member ISO Technical Committee 260 which has a mandate to develop global HR standards. ISO is an association of 162 countries. TC 260 initially comprised of experts from only 11 countries including USA, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal and Pakistan. TC 260 now comprises of 57 countries.

Zahid Mubarik

Zahid Mubarik actively contributed in HR standards development meetings at Washington, London, Melbourne, Rotterdam, Paris, Singapore, Bali, Milan and Sydney. As a recognition of his contribution, he got the honor of being unanimously elected as Global Convener of HR Metrics Standards Working Group. During his leadership, TC 260 published two standards specification documents including “Quality of Hire and Impact of Hire”.

Zahid Mubarik introduced SHRM HR Competency Standard in Pakistan and facilitated global certification of more than 200 HR executives. He has been a keynote speaker at SHRM conferences at Las Vegas, Beijing and Dubai. He is also a member of Board of Directors, The Centre for Inclusion USA. He led rollout of Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks Standard in Pakistan through research, publication, conferences and awards. He is the Editor in Chief of quarterly HR magazine Workforce Tomorrow.

According to United Nations, human sex ratio of world in 2018 is 101.783. Sex ratio is the number of males for each 100 female in a population. Sex ratio above 100 means there are more males than females. Sex ratio below 100 means there are more females than males. Sex ratio of 100 means there are equal numbers of females and males. According to this report, Pakistan sex ratio is 105.638, which means a greater opportunity to build on female human capital.

Women integration in society is a global imperative now. According to McKinsey & Company 2015 research report, there is relationship between diversity and business performance. Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation. Corporate sustainability is therefore the hottest agenda and the main question is whether a company it wants to be market leader or a late adopter.

Women empowerment is a key agenda of UN Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 countries in 2015. SDGs expand the integration of environmental, social and economic policies and raises the bar on the role that all types and sizes of organizations in various sectors should play in supporting the global sustainable development agenda. It mentions and supports gender empowerment and integration as one of its focus.

In Pakistan, some of the progressive leaders of society persuaded government to enact law to pave way for gender inclusion in formal structures. As per Pakistan Companies Act 2017, public interest companies to have at least one woman director within three years. In Pakistan currently, the proportion of women directors on the boards of listed companies is only 6.4%. It is much lower than the proportion of women directors in the companies in S&P 500 (24%) and FTSE 100 (29%). Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan desires that proportion of women directors in public interest companies be increased from 6.4 percent to at least 14.3 percent in three years.


Now important question is that whether board of directors with typical male chauvinist mindset are ready to share power with women? Apparently, the situation does not seem favorable because people prefer socializing and working with others like themselves the so-called ‘affinity bias’ effect. As a result, corporate board diversity in gender tends to progress slowly without external pushes, because the majority of sitting directors in Pakistan are men.

We should also not expect some miracle because in country like USA S&P 500 have made slow progress in this realm. The average percentage of female directors increased from 15 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2017, while the number of companies without female directors declined from 13 percent to 2 percent in this period.

Breaking into male-dominated boardrooms is not easy for women. UK government also wants women to make up at least a third of boards for the UK’s 350 biggest companies by 2020. While the interim review report found that things are improving, however, some firms seem to be dragging their feet and paying only lip service to diversity.


Diversity Hub Pakistan observed that while some companies are aggressively hiring women at entry level but their gender composition at executive and board level is very slim. Companies need to make a clear business and social case so that decision makers are willing to allocate resources for hiring, developing and retaining women at all levels.

To optimize organizational results, creativity, problem solving, talent management and engagement, operations and innovation, organizational leaders need to adopt inclusive approaches, management strategies and styles that incorporate different perspectives, cognitive, cultural and linguistic differences and collaboration. This will ensure long-term sustainability of the world and the people in the world.

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