Singapore Board Diversity Review 2024

Attentive multiethnic businesswomen listening to boss while working on a project together

Geopolitics, climate change, rising costs, and generational advancements in technology have brought new challenges and opportunities. Against an ever-evolving global landscape is the widespread recognition that board diversity—perspectives, skills, experience and gender—can enrich decision-making, foster innovative solutions and strengthen the economic and social fabric.

Recognising gender as the most significant aspect of board diversity to be addressed first, much of the focus of organisations, regulatory bodies and stakeholders in Singapore have centred on the appointment of women. Visible and measurable, gender also serves as a proxy for progress and a powerful lead-in to considering broader diversity.

In a study released by the Council for Board Diversity (CBD), the findings offered insight into the state of board gender diversity at listed companies on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), statutory boards, and Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) to encourage organisations and directors as they continue their journey of leveraging board diversity for enterprise value. The data review, spanning from 2013 to 31 December 2023, was conducted with support from the Centre for Sustainable Finance Innovation (CSFI), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Key Highlights

  1. Strong progress in women’s participation on boards (WOB)—a bellwether for board diversity—is seen across all sectors.
  2. Half of Top 100 SGX-listed companies, statutory boards and Top 100 IPCs exceeded voluntary board gender diversity targets in 2023.
  3. More women are being appointed to board leadership roles.
  4. First-time director appointments to SGX-listed companies grew significantly across the board in 2023, increasing diversity in the pool of directors.
  5. Though on a steady decline, there are still all-male boards among listed companies and IPCs.

Augmenting outreach to companies and organisations, CBD introduced board gender diversity targets. For Top 100 listed companies: 20 per cent by end-2020, 25 per cent by end-2025 and 30 per cent by end-2030. Thirty per cent as soon as possible for statutory boards and IPCs. These are completely voluntary and serve as attainable goals to encourage organisations to make progress on their board diversity journeys.

Dr. Angie Low is an Associate Professor of Finance at Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and a fellow of the Asian Bureau of Finance and Economics Research. Angie's research interests include corporate governance, managerial compensation, corporate culture, and corporate social responsibility.

This study is a collaboration between the Centre for Sustainable Finance Innovation (CSFI) at Nanyang Technological University, the Council for Board Diversity (CBD) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX).