100 BoardAgender Champions

WILLIE CHENG

Chairman, Singapore Institute of Directors

As the acknowledged national association of corporate directors which is committed to the promotion and development of best practices in corporate governance among companies in Singapore, the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) is keenly aware that effective boards are crucial to achieving this objective. Boards must not only comprise competent individuals with the relevant experience, knowledge and skills and the ability to commit time and resources to properly understand the businesses of the Company and the markets in which it operates in order to add value through ensuring the development of effective long term strategies and achievement of strategic goals, they must also comprise the necessary board diversity.
 
In this regard, we believe gender diversity in boards to date has not been given sufficient attention. While SID remains gender neutral and is a strong advocate of a meritocracy regime it is also our belief that a more balanced gender distribution of directors would, among other factors, add to board effectiveness. Women have a different physical and emotional make-up from men and often provide different perception of issues and different viewpoints which are invaluable to board discussions and the quality of board decisions.
 
Women are currently under-represented in boards all over the world except in a few Nordic countries and the percentage at less than 10% in Singapore can in our view be significantly improved without compromising the principle of meritocracy. We hope more women executives, professionals and academics will make themselves available so as to increase the pool of women directors here and help redress the current imbalance over a reasonable period of time.

“Diversity is important for an effective board because it reduces groupthink and uncritical conformity. Diversity is more than about gender. However, gender diversity is a significant issue as women are clearly and significantly underrepresented on Singapore boards. The problem lies on both the supply and demand side of the equation. Therefore, the solution needs to address both aspects. One SID’s part, we are stepping up to help increase the pool of board-ready women candidates, to educate boards on the need and means for gender diversity, and to facilitate the appointment of women on boards.”

The BoardAgender SG50 Champions of Change call on every corporate leader
to make the change for gender-balanced business in Singapore.