Base board appointments on merit, not gender

Base board appointments on merit, not gender

The subject of female board directors has been debated at length.

Board directors are often appointed for their integrity, vision, proven track record and ability to contribute effectively to the well-being of the company, its employees and shareholders.

Gender is immaterial.

The onus, therefore, rests on the individual to develop, motivate and drive himself or herself, so as to possess the necessary prerequisites for a board seat.

This cannot be forced. Hence, it seems ominous when Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said that the Government is not ruling out the possibility of a quota for female directors on the boards of listed companies ("Call for capitalism that gives back"; last Thursday).

A company's performance is gender-neutral. It has not been proven that companies with female board directors fare better.

A company's performance is a function of many factors, not the gender of its board directors.

There is also no evidence to support the hypothesis that women board members will help to develop and retain women employees in the country. If indeed this assertion were true, there would have been an exodus of women employees from companies with an all-male board.

Although we believe that women should be appointed to the boards of companies, we must ensure that it is done for the right reasons, and not because of gender diversity and perceived equal rights for women.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

This article was first published on Sept 08, 2014.
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