Malaysia sees highest number of women in Asean boardrooms

The country has 15.4% women directors on boards across all PLCs as at 3Q18, an improvement from 10.7% in 2015


MALAYSIA is on top of the leaderboard among Asean countries for having the highest number of women in the boardroom, and well on the way to achieve at least 30% women representation in top 100 public-listed companies (PLCs) by 2020.

The 30% Club Malaysia founding chair Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar said Malaysia has recorded 15.4% women directors on the boards across all PLCs as at the third quarter of 2018 (3Q18), an improvement from 10.7% in 2015.

Such an achievement is ahead of other Asean countries including Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia with less than 15% women on boards.

Currently, Norway is leading the global nations with female directorship reaching 40%, followed by Sweden and France at slightly below 35%, according to statistics by the World Bank.

Zarinah said 23.2% of board seats on the top 100 PLCs in the country were occupied by women, an increase from 14% in 2015.

She said the 30% Club will continue to support and work with the government to push women participation on boards of Malaysian companies.

“The 30% Club will continue to help companies identify and appoint suitable women candidates on their boards,” she said at the graduation of the second batch of the 30% Club Board Mentoring Scheme in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Hannah Yeoh, who graced the event, said opportunities, awareness and supporting infrastructure are important to support the drive to have more female leaderships on companies’ boards.

“It is not about the lack of women leaders, because we do have enough of them. It is about the lack of opportunities, awareness and infrastructures, such as childcare centres at the workplace to sustain women in workforce,” Yeoh said.

She added that such mentoring programme conducted by the 30% Club would be more efficient to develop future leaders as it provides a one-on-one guidance from the mentors to the mentees.

Yeoh said the government is also looking to increase women participation in politics and policymaking as the country now has less than 20% women policymakers in the federal and state levels.

Separately, Yeoh said the ministry is now doing strategic mapping to analyse the surrounding areas of where baby dumping occurred.

She said such analysis also includes demographics that will be done up to 500m in the surrounding areas for an accurate intervention which could be initiated to address the baby dumping issue.

The 30% Club Malaysia made its debut in 2015, taking inspirations from a similar campaign launched in the UK in 2010.

The Securities Commission Malaysia and the 30% Club has jointly organised several business leaders roundtables with chairmen and board members of listed companies to discuss gender diversity on boards.

The McKinsey and Co 2018 Report: Delivering Through Diversity stated that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.

Large companies are expected to have 30% women on their boards in line with the latest iteration of the Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance.

Otherwise, the companies are required to disclose measures which have been taken and the timeline to achieve 30% women leadership on the boards.

Malaysia aspires to be the first Asean country to achieve at least 30% women directors on the boards of the top 100 PLCs by 2020.

The mentoring programme helps fast track mentees’ appreciation of director duties and accountabilities through interactions with experienced mentors.

The 30% Club has four cohorts since the programme was launched in July last year, with two cycles completed and two more ongoing.