Board diversity remains elusive in Singapore

by Nurhuda Syed10 Aug 2018

Singapore companies are still struggling to enforce board diversity, according to the latest figures by the Diversity Action Committee (DAC).

New board directors appointed onto company boards are mostly filled by men. Seven in 10 directors appointed in Singapore’s top 100 companies were men, while eight in 10 were men for all SGX-listed companies.

The proportion of all-male boards in majority of companies only saw a meagre improvement. Currently 49% of companies have all-male boards, as compared to 2017’s figure of 50%.

The top 100 companies saw a slightly better improvement – from 32% of firms with all-male boards in 2017 to 27% this year.

On a positive note, the top 100 companies saw a 20% increase in women’s participation on boards since June 2017. The figure stands at 14.7% as at June 2018, making it closer to DAC’s target of 20% by 2020.

“Companies are making encouraging progress,” said DAC chairman Loh Boon Chye. “I believe there is room for more capable women to be appointed to the boards.

“If the pace is sustained, the top 100 companies will be the first group of companies to achieve DAC’s first-tier target of 20% women on boards by 2020, leading the way for other companies to join in.”

And the top 100 companies have been leading the charge in promoting board diversity. At present, 33 of the companies have achieved more than 20% women on their boards.

The proportion of all-male boards for the top 100 have also continued to decline, down to 27% in June 2018 from 32% as at end of last year.

“With the upcoming revisions to Singapore’s Code of Corporate Governance calling for more focus on board diversity, I hope that more companies will think how their board composition could be strengthened in line with its strategic gaps,” Loh said.

The proposed revision will push half of the SGX-listed companies to appoint at least one new independent director before long.


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