Singapore Wants to Double Women on Company Boards in 3 Years

  • Women accounted for 9.9 percent of board members in 2016
  • Singapore only ahead of Japan, South Korea in 15-country study

A Singapore government-backed group wants to double women’s representation on company boards to 20 percent by the end of the decade in what it says would be a "big challenge" catching up with other countries in terms of having more females in the upper echelons of management.

The Diversity Action Committee issued on Tuesday a six-step plan to encourage more women on the boards of companies listed in the city state where they made up 9.9 percent at the end of last year.

"Global companies in other leading financial markets are already seeing 30 to 40 percent women board participation, having experienced and appreciated the contributions of women on boards," said Singapore Exchange Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Loh Boon Chye, who chairs the committee. "Greater diversity would enhance companies’ ability to identify opportunities and manage risk."

Singapore ranked 13 out of 15 countries, ahead only of Japan and South Korea, according to a study carried out by the committee. The 19-member group, of which 9 are women, said despite greater awareness of the issue, change has been slow.

The committee’s six-step plan includes:

* Requiring companies to disclose diversity policies. Recommendation made to Monetary Authority of Singapore; Code of Corporate Governance under review
* Getting companies to reveal how board compositions are suitable for business needs, drawing women directors from outside traditional pool of friends and contacts
* Helping firms get in-depth understanding of diversity benefits
* Encouraging investors to enthuse firms to move forward on diversity
* Encouraging studies on significance of women’s board participation
* Working with groups to promote board diversity; support efforts

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