More Gender Diversity On Boards In Singapore And Asia

Credit Suisse recently reported that the number of women holding board seats in Singapore went up to 9.9%.

The bank studied the 3,400 companies that Credit Suisse covers, and found that, overall, European companies showed strong increases in boardroom gender diversity, as a result of high quotas and targets. Women hold nearly 25 percent of the continent’s board seats.

Meanwhile, the diversity progress in Asian companies had a great deal to do with the fact that they were starting from a very low threshold.

In Singapore, the numbers were the highest ever in 2015, with a 1.5 percentage point increase from 2014. Women made up 8.4 percent of the boards of Singapore’s largest companies in 2014.

Singapore’s percentage was higher than the Asian average of 8.9 percent. This number is slightly skewed, though, because Korea and Japan both have the least amount of board diversity in the world, and their percentages are included in that average.

While the increase is promising for Singapore’s diversity, it’s still outshadowed by some of its neighbors. In Malaysia, women held 13.9 percent of board seats and in Thailand, women held 12.7 percent.

These numbers are positive. However, it’s important to note a few factors:

  • The Asian average remains at less than 10 percent of female representation on boards.
  • Many companies have fallen into the habit of giving board seats and appointments to women who are already sitting members of other boards. So the same women tend to have seats on many boards.

The report also showed that boards where at least one member was a woman saw higher corporate performance, outperforming boards with only male members by 3.5 percentage points.

Additionally, if women made up 15 percent of more of a company’s senior leadership and management team, the company had a 15.3 percent return on equity. In companies where women made up less than 10 percent of the corporate executives, companies reported a return on equity of 13 percent.

Even further, companies with a female CEO had a 15.2 percent return on equity, while companies with a male CEO had a 12.8 percent return on equity.

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