Singapore

20-20 vision for gender diversity on boards

Women's groups here have set a bold goal to redress a lack of gender diversity: Double the proportion of women on boards by 2020.

The PAP Women's Wing and BoardAgender - an initiative of the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations - have made the recommendation to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

"We advocate that a 20-20 target - at least 20 per cent of female directors on boards by 2020 - be adopted by listed companies and statutory boards," said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu yesterday.

That would be more than double the 9.7 per cent as at last June, which was a slight improvement on the 9.1 per cent as at June 2015.

Ms Fu, also the chair of the PAP Women's Wing, said that the two groups are also calling on the MAS to make the "comply or explain" disclosure policy on board diversity a mandatory one.

This requires companies that do not meet the guidelines to explain their deviations.

Ms Fu was speaking at the launch of the final set of Corporate Governance Guide series for boards and board of committees here, organised by the Singapore Institute of Directors.

Two and a half years in the making, the six guidebooks set out leading practices and regulatory requirements for boards and all major committees.

Although the number of women on local boards here has improved, Ms Fu lamented that it pales in comparison to women's representation in the workforce and in senior management ranks.

Having gender-diverse business leadership, including on boards, would provide better guidance on more gender-equal policies, and encourage more women to take on key roles.

"That said, this is not about giving preferential treatment to a specific gender - merit still comes first."

PEOPLE’S ACTION PARTYMonetary Authority of Singapore