President Halimah announces move to get more women on boards, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

President Halimah announces move to get more women on boards

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President announces formation of new council

In the last four years, the proportion of women on the boards of Singapore's top 100 listed companies doubled to 15 per cent.

While a "good achievement", it is hardly enough, President Halimah Yacob said at the Istana yesterday, as she announced the formation of a new council to get more women on the boards of organisations.

Madam Halimah will be the patron of the Council for Board Diversity, which will be co-chaired by Mr Loh Boon Chye, chief executive officer of the Singapore Exchange (SGX), and Mrs Mildred Tan, chairman of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre.

The council consisting of 20 members - nine men and 11 women - used to be known as the Diversity Action Committee (DAC), which was formed in 2014 and focused on SGX-listed companies.

It will have an expanded scope to look into female representation on the boards of organisations in the public sector and people sector, which includes non-governmental organisations, voluntary welfare organisations and charities.

As of last month, the representation of women on boards in the top 100 primary-listed SGX companies had increased to 15.2 per cent from 7.5 per cent before the DAC started.

Madam Halimah, who was adviser to the DAC, said: "This is a good achievement. But of course, we all acknowledge it is still a challenge for us to reach the first-tier target of 20 per cent by the end of next year, and further effort is necessary.

"It is a natural progression for statutory boards and charities to be included so that organisations in the people and public sectors can also harness the benefits of a leadership with diversity of thought."

In 2017, the DAC set targets of increasing female participation on boards of listed companies to 20 per cent by 2020, 25 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.

Madam Halimah added: "With an increased demand for qualified executives fairly early on in our economic development, Singapore has had a reasonably high proportion of women executives for some time now.

"Many women in Singapore already contribute at senior leadership positions in their organisations. But not many serve on boards, and this has to change."


The new council will focus on raising awareness of the importance of board diversity, developing the pipeline of board-ready women, and working with the Government on policies and programmes.

Among 16 countries studied in a DAC report, Singapore ranked 11th in terms of the representation of women on boards, below countries such as Britain and Malaysia.

Madam Halimah encouraged organisations, especially those that have not had female directors, to "seriously consider" whether they have valid reasons for resisting diversity and its benefits.

"Those that turn thought into action sooner rather than later, by casting the net wide to look for the best and most diverse talents and experience to serve on their boards, will position their organisations well, as forward-looking and responsible stewards for sustainable development in the long run."