At the end of 2016, women’s representations on boards in Singapore was at 9.9 per cent. (Image: Rafa Estrada)
SINGAPORE: The Diversity Action Committee (DAC) is adopting a new approach to raise the share of women’s participation on boards to 30 per cent by 2030, it said on Tuesday (Apr 4).
Women’s representations on boards is currently at 9.9 per cent, according to figures at the end of last year and the DAC is setting a “triple-tier target” of 20 per cent by 2020, 25 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.
Calling this a “hop, skip and jump” approach, the DAC, which was formed in 2014 to address the under-representation of women on boards of companies, called on the top 100 Singapore Exchange-listed companies to take the lead.
“Larger companies must lead to create a momentum of change and demonstrate the compelling benefits of having women on boards to the smaller companies,” said DAC chairman Loh Boon Chye.
He added that the multi-year targets were set after the DAC had “examined extensively the feasibility and reasonableness of various targets and the possible steps that companies can take to increase diversity in the context of a good governance structure and process.”
According to a study by the DAC, Singapore falls far behind many international and regional markets as at the end of last year, ranking near the bottom of the list of 15 countries – ahead only of Japan and South Korea.
(Image: Diversity Action Committee)
“CHANGE HAS BEEN SLOW”
The DAC acknowledged that doubling the current women’s representation of 9.9 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020 is a big challenge. “While awareness has been sown in the past two years, change has been slow,” said the committee in a news release.
It hopes that with changes to the code of corporate governance and having active dialogue will encourage companies to actively appoint suitable women to boards.
To increase the number of women board directors, the committee said it will pursue a six-step plan:
1. Require companies to disclose their diversity policies (including gender) for board and key management, measurable objectives that express their policy and progress in achieving their objectives.
2. Ask companies to disclose how their board compositions are suitable for upcoming business needs, drawing women directors with appropriate skills and experience from outside the traditional pool of friends and contacts.
3. Help companies gain an in-depth understanding of the benefits of diversity.
4. Encourage investors, investor associations and the civil society to motivate companies to move forward on diversity.
5. Grow the local conversation and encourage studies regarding the significance of women’s participation on boards and management.
6. Work with organisations and associations which have expressed commitment to promoting board diversity and support their efforts.
The DAC comprises 19 members from the business, people and public sectors, and is chaired by Mr Loh, who is also CEO of SGX. Members include the chairman of Shell Singapore Goh Swee Chen, Singtel and SingPost chairman Simon Israel, as well as chairman of the Singapore Business Federation Teo Siong Seng.
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