Women make up just 8% of Singapore-listed corporate boards. Make it at least 20%: Grace Fu

SINGAPORE - Companies should strive to have women make up at least one-fifth of their board membership, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu.

She pointed out that in 2013, just 8.3 per cent of board directors of Singapore Exchange-listed firms were women.

Singapore has not set a quota on female board representation.

But that should not be an impediment, noted Ms Fu at a private sector women leadership summit on Thursday morning (Jan 29).

"Even without such quotas, it is possible to achieve good progress," she said.

Ms Fu cited the experience of Britain, which required companies to set up voluntary targets and to report their progress on gender diversity regularly.

This enabled female board representation there to rise from 12.5 per cent in 2011 to 20.7 per cent last year.

Many women who lived in the post-independence era in Singapore have had good education and valuable work experiences and would be able to take up board leadership roles, said Ms Fu.

"Even if we are not ready for 50-50 representation, surely we are ready for something more than 8 per cent. We should at least aim for 20 per cent."

Employers can help in the process by actively cultivating women leaders, said Ms Fu.

They can do so by designing gender-friendly leadership selection and development processes.

Workplaces should also be made more family-friendly by, for example, having flexible working hours.

feimok@sph.com.sg