Diversity Task Force's Work Gathers Steam, Advisory Panel of Prominent Business Leaders Announced
With an Advisory Panel sharing its expertise and providing guidance to the Diversity Task Force (DTF), much progress has been made in its study. The DTF was formed last year to examine the state of gender diversity on boards and in senior management in Singapore, as well as its impact on corporate performance and governance.
The Advisory Panel comprises business leaders from the private sector who are champions of board gender diversity. Chairing the Advisory Panel is Mr J. Y. Pillay, Chairperson of Tiger Airways Holdings and Chairperson of the Council of Presidential Advisers. The rest of the Panel comprises:
a. Mr Magnus Bocker, CEO and Board Director of the Singapore Exchange;
b. Ms Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO and Board Director of SingTel;
c. Ms Euleen Goh, Chairperson of Singapore International Foundation; Independent, Non-Executive Director of DBS Group Holdings Limited, CapitaLand Limited and SATS Limited;
d. Ms Olivia Lum, Executive Chairperson and Group CEO of Hyflux Ltd
Mrs Mildred Tan, Chairperson of the DTF remarked, “The DTF is extremely encouraged to have with us the Advisory Panel of illustrious business leaders who are passionate and dedicated to supporting the push for greater gender diversity on boards. The DTF has greatly benefited from the Advisers’ wealth of experience and knowledge.”
The Advisory Panel believes a diverse board with a good balance of gender, skill-sets, and experience makes good business sense. The Advisory Panel commented, “Boards in Singapore may have a good mix of skill-sets and experience, but gender diversity is clearly lacking. Decisions made in boardrooms should reflect the realities of the marketplace if they hope to keep their competitive edge. We hope that when the DTF report is launched, boards will have a greater awareness on the benefits of gender diversity and take necessary actions to change the status quo.”
As part of the study, in July 2013 the Singapore National Employers Federation launched a survey with SGX-listed companies and statutory boards on gender diversity on boards and in senior management. This was supported by the Singapore Exchange, Singapore Institute of Directors, BoardAgender1 and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Together with the Consultant of the study, Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen of NUS Business School, the DTF has also held 5 dialogue sessions and conducted 12 in-depth interviews with Chairpersons, Board Directors and CEOs of SGX-listed companies and statutory boards.
Mrs Tan said, “The survey’s response rate was excellent and the series of dialogue sessions and in-depth interviews went very well. I am grateful to the Chairpersons, Board Directors, and CEOs who took time off their busy schedules to participate in our study. With their insights, I am confident that our findings will be robust. This will allow us to formulate sound recommendations that we hope if implemented will lead to greater gender diversity on boards and a higher standard of corporate governance in Singapore.”
The DTF is currently reviewing data from the annual reports of SGX-listed companies and statutory boards, as well as literature on the topic. The DTF will analyse its findings and targets to launch its report with recommendations to the Government and businesses in the first half of 2014.
1 An outreach arm of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations.
FACT SHEET ON THE DIVERSITY TASK FORCE
The Diversity Task Force (DTF) was formed to examine (i) the state of gender diversity on boards and in senior management of listed companies and statutory boards in Singapore; and (ii) its impact on corporate performance and governance. The DTF was initiated by Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament, during her term of office as Minister of State, Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). The move was prompted by the concern that women in Singapore continue to be under-represented on boards and top-level senior management positions despite making immense progress in educational attainment. The DTF will produce a report with the findings as well as any recommendations to businesses and the Government. This is expected to be ready in the first half of 2014.
The DTF comprises industry leaders from the private and people sectors as follows:
a. Mrs Mildred Tan, Managing Director, Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd – Chairperson;
b. Mr Patrick Ang, Deputy Managing Director of Rajah and Tann LLP;
c. Ms Junie Foo, Co-Founder and Co-Chairperson of BoardAgender; Board Member of Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations; Council Member of SIM; and Assistant General Manager of Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ;
d. Mrs Laura Hwang, President of Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations; and Co-Chairperson of BoardAgender;
e. Mr Koh Juan Kiat, Executive Director of Singapore National Employers Federation; and
f. Ms Yeo Lian Sim, Chief Regulatory & Risk Officer, Singapore Exchange; and Council Member, Singapore Institute of Directors.
The Office for Women’s Development (OWD) under the MSF is Secretariat to the Task Force.
The DTF’s Terms of Reference are to:
a. Promote and facilitate public and private networks for dialogue and exchange of information, ideas and leading practices to support the building of a diverse culture across boards and senior management levels;
b. Study the benefits of diversity on boards and impact on companies and societies through research; and
c. Develop strategies to strengthen corporate governance and encourage greater transparency in nomination and selection processes for board and senior management appointments.