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Women under-represented across Asia Pacific boards

Anuradha Shukla | April 20, 2016
Companies with greater female representation in the boardroom more profitable, says report.

Women still remain under-represented across Asia Pacific boards, according to a new Asia Pacific study by Korn Ferry and NUS.

Although companies with greater female representation in the boardroom tend to be more profitable, most countries show little or no progress.

However, Australia, India and Malaysia, showed significant improvement in broadening women representation on boards across the companies.

This improvement is attributed to a combination of government initiatives in these countries.

"It is clear that governments and regulators play an instrumental role in shaping the board diversity landscape," said Alicia Yi, managing director, Board & CEO Services, Korn Ferry. "Whether it is through targets, quota or disclosure requirements, these measures are needed to help enterprises make a deliberate choice in considering female candidates alongside men for senior positions. The benefits to sustainability, talent retention, strategic growth and sustainable success are significant."

Return on equity
Firms in Asia pacific with at least 10 percent of female board members delivered a 14.9 percent return on equity (ROE) in 2014 compared to just 12.6 percent for those without.

All-male boards are no longer a majority in the region with a significant drop from 53.2 percent in 2012 to 39.0 percent in 2014.

In Australia, 21.9 percent of female board members are amongst the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)-listed companies.

Malaysia saw the largest year-on-year increase in female representation, from 8.3 percent to 12.5 percent. Companies in India reported an increase in female board representation from 7.3 percent to 8.6 percent in 2014.

South Korea and Japan are at the bottom of the gender diversity rankings with 2.6 percent and 3.3 percent female board members respectively, followed by Singapore at 7.7 percent.

"In Asia Pacific, we have a long way to go when it comes to fully embracing diversity. Thus, a stronger push is needed to bring corporate boards to the next level in the region," said Yi. "Our aim is to raise awareness and encourage all stakeholders - governments, regulators and private enterprises - to take an active approach to improving board diversity in Asia."


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