More women join boards of SGX-listed companies

The number of women holding board seats at listed companies in Singapore increased 10 per cent last year over 2013.

There were 448 female directors last year, up from 406 a year earlier, said the Diversity Action Committee (DAC) yesterday.

Those 42 additional directorships made up a quarter of the 166 additional directorships created last year.

Appointments and new company listings grew the pool of women by 91, but 49 women also stepped down from their positions.

Independent director roles had the greatest net increase, with an additional 36 women directors for firms listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), while there were six more non-independent directors.

The findings show that women represented 8.8 per cent of board membership last year, up a touch from the 8.3 per cent in 2013 and 8 per cent in 2012.

The DAC was formed last August to boost female board representation and help implement recommendations made for gender diversity.

DAC chairman and SGX chief executive Magnus Bocker said in a statement: "The increased representation of women on boards of SGX-listed companies is encouraging.

"DAC has embarked on several initiatives, working together with other organisations to help companies look beyond traditional sources to bring diversity to listed companies."

The percentage of women represented on boards was nearly the same for small and big firms, but the DAC noted a marked improvement in large companies - with a market capitalisation larger than $1 billion - and Catalist-listed firms.

The number of women on boards in large companies rose 1.5 percentage points to 8.7 per cent last year, while their representation in Catalist-listed firms inched up 1.4 percentage points to 8.6 per cent.

However, female directors comprised only 7.6 per cent of the boards of the leading 30 companies on the Straits Times Index.

This is "lower than the market as a whole, despite an increase of 1 per cent from the previous year", said the DAC.

Findings also showed that women were better represented across various sectors.

The media industry had 16 per cent of female directorships, the highest representation of women on boards.

The DAC also found that 55.5 per cent of the 764 companies on the SGX had only male directors as at the end of last year, compared with 56 per cent in 2013.

It noted that Singapore trails behind other markets, even though the country "has a relatively large pool of well-educated senior women executives".

Mr Bocker added: "Though we still have a long way to go, the findings support how a rising number of companies and their boards are taking steps to foster better governance and business performance with a more gender-diverse board."

This article was first published on April 17, 2015.
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