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Having More Women on Boards is a Business Imperative

‘Women on Boards: Tackling the Issue’ report launch. (Photo: DAC)

“Gender equality is a business imperative and not just a social cause. As we face an increasingly complex and challenging world around us, strength in diversity, leverage from maximising the potential in human capital and uplift from a collaborative culture will make the difference in organisations built to last. I believe that the female talent in our population, nurtured and groomed from a well embedded meritocratic culture stands us out with the potential to forge ahead and compete successfully.”

Euleen Goh, BoardAgender SG50 Champions of Change
Director, DBS Bank & Royal Dutch Shell plc

On 5 October, Diversity Action Committee (DAC) presented its report ‘Women on Boards: Tackling the Issue’ to Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development. The Diversity Action committee is chaired by Mr Magnus Bocker, former Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Exchange Ltd, and its Adviser is Madam Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament of Singapore.

BoardAgender, an initiative of SCWO, is one of the committee members comprising 15 leaders from both large and small organisations, and professionals from the private, people and public sectors.

In the report, DAC urges Singapore companies to raise women’s representation on boards at a quicker pace, or risk undermining Singapore’s reputation as a leading business hub with sound and exemplary governance.

Since BoardAgender started tracking women’s representation on boards in 2011 with the launch of the BoardAgender–CGIO (Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations at NUS) diversity report, women’s representation on boards has been improving and has reached 9.7% as at end June 2016 from 6.9% in 2011. Despite the improvements seen, the pace of change is too slow and Singapore is falling behind. We are now ranked third from the last, behind Malaysia and Hong Kong.

DAC makes 5 recommendations to hasten the pace of change:

a) The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to strengthen the Code of Corporate Governance (Code), requiring listed companies to disclose their

  • diversity policy (including gender),
  • self-set measurable objectives, and
  • progress made in achieving their objectives

b) Companies should implement their diversity policy straightaway and disclose it in their annual reports, even before the Code is strengthened.

c) Shareholders and other market participants need to monitor progress and MAS to consider the need for stronger action if companies do not respond.

d) Companies to adopt best practices for board nomination and

e) Companies to develop their executive pipeline in order to increase the pool of women for board roles in the future

This dovetails into BoardAgender’s vision of having more senior women in the leadership pipeline and the economic benefits of having more women on boards. Increased requirements for transparency and accountability will spur companies to adopt a disciplined approach to diversifying their boards at faster pace. Let us build a more robust pipeline and in our personal capacities lead the way!

By Junie Foo
Chairperson for BoardAgender

For more information and to get involved with BoardAgender: www.boardagender.org
Download the report, Women on Boards: Tackling the Issue: www.diversityaction.org

October 27, 2016
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