Indra Nooyi seeks women's quota at Davos

Last Updated 29 January 2010, 06:15 IST
Indra Nooyi seeks women's quota at Davos

Nooyi ranked No. 3 on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women list last year laments that at this "one-of-a-kind initiative," women are still grossly underrepresented.

"We are up to 15 percent now, but I think the numbers should be more like 40 percent-50 percent," she told ForbesWoman at Davos noting that one of the problems is that women have not "done enough" to bring other women into Davos.
While she acknowledged that definitive conclusions were rarely, if ever, reached at the Swiss resort, it is a time for great leaders, executives and thinkers to talk about issues in a "fairly open way."

The 54-year-old business leader believes that bringing together a critical mass of women at Davos would ensure that women's issues were more prominent on the agenda.
Putting women on panels and having a quota system where every panel has at least one woman would "change the whole nature of Davos," she asserts. And just getting women to Davos at least once to "show them how powerful Davos could be," is the first step on a long road to success, she maintains.

Women's issues aside, Nooyi's outlook on 2010 is cautiously optimistic.  While the Western economies-the US and Western Europe-are still struggling, the Middle East is experiencing tremendous buoyancy, she says.

Citing employment and job creation as the "engine of growth," Nooyi warns that North America, Mexico and Western Europe have to ramp up their efforts on these fronts, this year.
"At this point, we have to put our faith in all of the leaders and hope that all of the policy actions they're taking actually leads to something," she concludes.

Old fashioned at heart

 Her company's products target the youth, she loves chips and cereals and is a relatively young professional at the helm of one of the larger US corporations. But PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi says she remains an “old-fashioned” person at heart.

“I have a Kindle already, might look at the Apple, but not a gadget freak,” the Chennai-born 54-year-old executive said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting at this Swiss ski resort.

“I like the feel of paper, books and like to write on pages. Am old fashioned person.”
In a chat with NDTV, Nooyi said PepsiCo products are not unhealthy as made out to be and that the company's constant endeavour was to make them better using healthier oils, less salt and reduce sugars.

“In India I ate potato chips everyday, it's not unhealthy, it's just a potato sliced and fried," she said. “A bag of chips is a divine product; a bag of chips has less salt than a slice of bread,” she added.

“So what we are doing is pushing the frontiers of science so we can offer healthier treats. What we are doing is re-writing the book on food and beverage. It's exciting to lead the company in these times!”

Nooyi said the $200 million investment plan for India was for a host of areas, including new products and manufacturing with a focus on agriculture - be it for growing potatoes or citrus in Punjab, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh or increasing yields with sustainable produces for farmers.

“We are introducing new technology for agriculture like direct seeding in paddy crops. All investments will increase our footprint and bring technology from the world over to enhance agriculture, the country and the community.”

(Published 29 January 2010, 05:25 IST)

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