by Junie Foo
March 8 was International Women’s Day. A number of events for women and celebrating women were organised here and around the world. In fact, the month of March will see a myriad of events celebrating women and her successes.
The awareness of gender equality is becoming more ubiquitous. More women’s conferences are being organised around the globe. Over the last five years, there has been an explosion of women entrepreneurs and women organisations.
One such organisation is BoardAgender, launched in 2011 in conjunction with the 100th year anniversary of International Women’s Day. Its objective is to create awareness of the benefits of having more women on boards and the importance of building senior women leadership pipelines.
A global concern, a global need
The scarcity of women at senior levels is a global phenomenon.
The global average of women on boards is only 11 per cent. In fact, five per cent of Fortune 500 companies do not have a single woman on their boards. Thirty five boards in the ASX 200 do not have any women. Germany, which is Europe’s biggest economy, has women occupying only seven per cent of executive board seats among its 30 largest companies. Recently, it passed a law that required major companies to allocate 30 per cent of seats on non-executive boards to women.
Singapore also performs poorly. According to the SID-ISCA Singapore Directorship Report 2014, women occupy only 8.3 per cent of total listed board seats. More than half of listed boards in Singapore have no women. Singapore lags behind its peers in the region and is at about half of the percentages seen in the EU, US and Australia.
Gender diversity is not just about political correctness.
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