Egon Zehnder
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Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL), a global manufacturer of beauty and wellness products based in Mumbai, India, is an example of a company that has deliberately onboarded international directors based on the need to better understand the markets it operates in.

For GCPL, diversity is a key part of its overall philosophy. Nisa Godrej, Executive Chairperson of Godrej Consumer Products, says that it was important for the company to better understand its customer, particularly after several global acquisitions. “We were an Indian company 10 years ago with 90 percent of our revenues coming from there, and now it’s 50 percent Indian/50 percent elsewhere,” she says. GCPL today has a total of 14 directors, including five women, two of whom hail from Africa — making it one of the most diverse boards in the region. “One of the drivers was to have more representation of women independent directors,” says Godrej. Having gender diversity also changes boardroom dynamics, says director Ireena Vittal. “Women bring a different lens — they know how to call out unconscious biases.”

Having directors from Africa also has helped Godrej with its expansion on the continent.

“Their diversity not only provides another narrative, but they also provide the contacts and the introductions on the ground,” Godrej says. The board agrees. “A board member from this region brings empathy and perspectives,” says one director. “It gives depth to a discussion that reading a newspaper doesn’t. So decisions are superior.”

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