Alarming gender gap in make-up of Singapore company boards

Men occupy more than 90 per cent of all board seats and 56 per cent of company boards have no women at all. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM 
Men occupy more than 90 per cent of all board seats and 56 per cent of company boards have no women at all. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM 

The boards of listed companies in Singapore could improve their gender diversity and their disclosure of how much directors are paid, two industry bodies said on Tuesday.

A study by the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), presented at the Carlton Hotel, found that men occupy more than 90 per cent of all board seats and 56 per cent of company boards have no women at all. 

Also, only 31 per cent of firms disclose the precise remuneration of their directors though the code of corporate governance now demands it, the two institutes said in a statement.

The figures were out of 3,670 individual directors on the boards of 717 listed companies, including those from the Singapore Exchange mainboard, those on the Catalist, business trusts and real estate investment trusts.

The lack of independent chairmen on company boards was another issue. Only a mere 18 per cent of boards had chairmen who were independent directors. About 31 per cent had executive chairmen who were also the chief executive of the firm, according to the report

Unexpectedly, the report also found that company board directors who sit on multiple boards have a better attendance record than those with only one board seat.

However, there were fewer such multiple-seat directors to begin with. More than 82 per cent of directors sit on only one board. 

The highest number of independent directorships held by one person has also fallen from 12 seats a few years ago to nine seats as at the end of last year, SID and ISCA said.