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More women on board in statutory bodies

09 March 2012

Research by NUS Business School's CGIO shows that women are better represented in the boardrooms of statutory boards than of listed companies in Singapore

An NUS research shows that women are better represented in the boardrooms of statutory boards than of listed companies in Singapore.

As of February 2012, female directors held 19.8 percent of board positions on local statutory boards, compared to only 6.9 percent in Singapore Exchange-listed companies. For the role of chairpersons, the proportions were 16.9 percent and 2.7 percent respectively.

This finding is a new addition to the Singapore Board Diversity Index, which tracks gender diversity in the boardrooms of Singapore-listed firms. The ongoing research for the Index is being conducted by the NUS Business School's Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO), together with BoardAgender, an outreach arm of Singapore Council of Women's Organisations that facilitates greater awareness of gender balanced business. The study is sponsored by UBS and Singapore Exchange and the full report will be released later this year.

Of Singapore's 65 statutory boards reviewed, three organisations had at least half of their boardrooms made up of female directors: Singapore Nursing Board (70.6 percent), Singapore Pharmacy Council (63.6 percent) and National Parks Board (50 percent).

In contrast, 11 statutory boards did not have a single woman in their boardrooms, despite an average board size of 14 directors. These included the Agency for Science, Technology and Research; Building and Construction Authority; Council for Estate Agencies; Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore; International Enterprise Singapore; Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore; Monetary Authority of Singapore; Nanyang Polytechnic; Public Utilities Board; Temasek Polytechnic; and Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Even so, 83.1 percent statutory boards had at least one female director on their boards, with some holding multiple directorships up to a maximum of four positions.

The research into statutory boards follows the launch of the inaugural Singapore Board Diversity Report in October 2011, where Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said that appointments to statutory boards and government-linked companies would represent a good start in terms of having more women on boards.