Best practices on having more women, diverse boards in Singapore introduced

SINGAPORE - Companies hoping to put together more diverse boards, particularly with more women directors, can look to a newly issued set of best practices for advice.

The Diversity Action Committee (DAC), which was formed last year to boost female representation on company boards, teamed up with five executive search firms to come up with the suggested road map, which was unveiled Thursday.

Under best practice, particular attention should be paid in ensuring that search firms strive to have between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of women candidates when helping their clients look for new directors.

Search firms are also encouraged to get boards to pursue diversity actively by first looking at the board composition and identifying the capabilities they are lacking in.

They should also broaden the candidate pool and have a wider set of selection criteria, especially in considering candidates who have relevant experience in emerging industries and areas of specialisation.

Search firms should also prepare candidates, especially first-timers, well for their interviews and guide them through the process.

Subsequently, the firms should advise the boards on inducting a new director in order to benefit fully from diversity.

This is the first initiative by the DAC since the 14-member committee was formed in August last year. Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob is its adviser.

The five executive search firms - Egon Zehnder, Korn Ferry, Heidrick & Struggles, Russell Reynolds Associates and Spencer Stuart - will share these guidelines with companies that use their services.

Other executive search firms have also been invited to commit to the best practices to improve board effectiveness and corporate governance.

feimok@sph.com.sg