3 April 2017
Ms Sun Xueling
MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development how can the Government better support the work of the Diversity Action Committee which looks at enabling women leadership and increasing the representation of women directors on boards of Singapore companies.
In recent years, many people have spoken about the importance and benefits of having more women on boards and in senior management. They include key private sectors players, regulators, as well as senior Government leaders like Madam Speaker, Minister Grace Fu, and Minister Shanmugam. Indeed, it is already widely known that having more women on boards adds to the board's diversity in skill sets, experiences and perspectives, leading to better decisions. However, while there has been some progress on this front, more needs to be done to quicken the pace of change.
I would thus like to thank Ms Sun for her timely question on how the Government can better support the work of the Diversity Action Committee, or DAC for short. MSF set up the DAC in August 2014 to build up women's representation on boards of companies in Singapore. It comprises illustrious business leaders and professionals from the private, people and public sectors.
I received DAC's end-of-term report and next step recommendations in October last year. One of the recommendations was to strengthen MAS' Code of Corporate Governance (CG Code) to require listed companies to disclose their diversity policy (including gender) and their progress towards achieving the objectives. MAS has formed a Corporate Governance Council to review the CG Code. The Council will consider DAC’s recommendation as part of its review.
While the Government continues to encourage the inclusion of qualified women in executive development pipelines, companies have an equally important role to play. We urge companies to rely less on personal networks when searching for board candidates and look at widening their board search criteria. Companies must adopt best practices for board nomination and appointments, and also proactively incorporate board training in their talent development programme. Private sector leaders should volunteer to mentor and sponsor aspiring women leaders, who should be encouraged to step up and take up available board positions.
The Government and private sector have to work hand in hand with the DAC to build up women's representation on the boards of Singapore companies.