SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - The representation of women on the boards of Singapore's largest companies has improved over the past year, and it is a whisker away from hitting a diversity target that was previously set.
Women's participation on the boards of the 100 largest companies listed on Singapore's exchange increased to 19.7 per cent as at Jan 1, with more than 30 women directors being appointed since end of 2020, according to the Council for Board Diversity.
That is up from 17.6 per cent at end-2020 - shy of the council's target of 20 per cent by that timeframe - with board diversity cited previously by firms as taking a backseat to combating Covid-19.
Among companies that made the most progress, the council highlighted Sats and Far East Hospitality Trust for getting women to account for half of board seats at the end of last year, compared to zero in 2013.
The number of all-male boards among the top 100 companies remained roughly unchanged at 17 in 2021 versus a year ago, the data show.
The picture at government-linked companies is more encouraging, with almost 30 per cent of their boards made up of women as at Dec 31, 2021, compared to 27.5 per cent a year before.
The Republic also made some strides in the appointment of more independent directors as the exchange attempts to improve governance at local firms and foster a larger pool of board talent. The percentage of board appointments who were first-time directors reached 59 per cent in 2021, the highest since tracking began in 2015.
Still, Singapore companies remain behind their developed-market peers in terms of female representation on boards. An average 27 per cent of the board members of MSCI World Index companies were women as at end-2021, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
For its biggest firms, the Singapore-based council has set a target of achieving 25 per cent of women's participation on boards by the end of 2025, and 30 per cent by end-2030.