SINGAPORE – The appointment of 30 women in the boards of some of the largest companies of the country has helped improve women’s representation on boards in Singapore. In fact, it has almost reached the participation level targeted by the government. 

According to the information released by the Council for Board Diversity, the ratio of women on boards of the 100 largest companies listed on Singapore Exchange (SGX) as on January 1, 2022 stood at 19.7%. This was a marked difference from the ratio of 17.6% at the end of 2020. The figure is also very close to the target set up by the government which was 20%. 

Between the same period, the number of women on statutory boards rose to 28.4% while those in the top 100 public institutions rose to 29.7%. The interim goals set by the council for these public organisations is 30%. While the numbers of gender balanced boards, that is ones with between 40% to 60% participation from either genders, doubled from 9% in December 2020 to 18% in December 2021, while the number of such boards in the private sector reduced from 5% to 4% in this duration. 

In its report, the council praised SATS Ltd. and Far East Hospitality Trust, both of which had women’s participation level on their boards as 50% – a tremendous growth from 0 in 2013. One sore point in the otherwise upbeat report was the fact that out of the top 100 companies, 17 still have all-male boards. It is safe to say that both the goals are within reach, and are expected to be achieved soon.

Mildred Tan, Co-Chair of the CBD and Chair of Tote Board Singapore and Singapore University of Social Sciences Board of Trustees, said, “Singapore’s statutory boards demonstrate how quickly it is possible to diversify our boards. The progress augers well for many capable women to demonstrate their ability to thrive in our boardrooms.” She also acknowledged that the pandemic has caused a significant disruption in our society over the past two years, in turn causing many IPCs to face new challenges in meeting the needs of their beneficiaries with increased funding constraints. “In times like these, it is more important than ever for IPCs to build a diverse mix of directors who reflect the communities they serve,” she added.