Women, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Workforce, Diversity

Specifically, Singapore (3.9%), Malaysia (3.4%), Thailand (3.6%), and the Philippines (3.8%) reported percentage increases of women in board seats, while Indonesia saw a 1% decline. 

Per a recent Deloitte study of over 10,000 companies spanning across Asia Pacific, the Americas, and EMEA, women hold just 19.7% of board seats globally. This was a 2.8% increase from what was observed in 2018. If this rate remains consistent, the world could expect to reach near-parity in 2045, as compared to 2052 as predicted in the previous edition.

While overall global female board representation increased in 2021 as cited above, the study noted that there is still room for progress at the chair and CEO levels specifically. Only 6.7% of board chairs are women — just a 1.4% increase from 2018. An even smaller percentage of women hold the CEO role at 5%, representing only a 0.6% increase from 2018. This possibly signifies the notion that placing more women on corporate boards does not necessarily equate to progress across leadership positions. 

However, the study identified a positive correlation between female CEO leadership and board diversity. Companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards (33.5%) than those run by men (19.4%). The same could be observed in companies with female chairs, which noted 30.8% women on boards. The inverse is true as well, with gender-diverse boards more likely to appoint a female CEO and board chair.

Southeast Asia findings

Closer to home, Southeast Asian countries included in the report (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines) collectively fared better with an average of 17.1% of women in board seats compared to 14.3% in 2018. This was also higher than the overall Asia average of 11.7%, even closing in on the global average of 19.7%. Overall, the region reported a 2.8% increase from 2018, consistent with the 2.8% increase globally.

Looking into the data by countries specifically, Singapore. Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines reported percentage increases, surpassing the global figure: 

  1. Singapore — 3.9%
  2. Malaysia — 3.4%
  3. Thailand — 3.6%
  4. the Philippines — 3.8%

Meanwhile, Indonesia saw a 1% decline.

Interestingly, the research revealed polarising results. While 6% of board chairs are women in Southeast Asia, the percentage change is more widely dispersed. Most significantly, Indonesia saw a negative 2.4% change, and Malaysia and Thailand reported positive 2.6% and 1.2% changes respectively.

For comparison, when looking at CEO roles held by women, Singapore (13.1%) and Thailand (11.6%) are ranked first and third respectively among the countries surveyed. As such, while women’s participation in boards in the region has gone up since 2018, the perception and possibly the acceptance of women assuming top leadership positions in boards significantly varies across geographies.

The study also looked into the tenure of women in board seats, where the term in Southeast Asia has either remained stable or declined. Specifically, the average tenure decreased most sharply in Singapore, from five years to 4.4 years. The percentage change for tenure term has also decreased for Malaysia and Philippines, possibly due to the wider pool of women candidates in these countries given that the overall women participation on boards has increased.

The report also examined how many board seats an individual holds in a particular market using its Stretch Factor metric. The higher the stretch factor, the greater the number of board seats the same director occupies in a given market. In Southeast Asia, the stretch factor is 1.17 for women, an increase from 2018. This indicates that women are now occupying more, and multiple, directorships in the region.

Read on below for market-specific highlights:

China findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 13.1% in 2021 (up from 10.6% in 2018), while 6.4% of CEOs comprise women among the 880 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has stayed steady at 5.1 years in 2021 (compared to 5.1 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 50.8 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Life sciences & healthcare.  

Hong Kong findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 13.9% in 2021 (up from 11.4% in 2018), while 8.5% of CEOs comprise women among the 216 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone up to 8.5 years in 2021 (compared to 7.7 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 55.5 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Life sciences & healthcare.

India findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 17.1% in 2021 (up from 13.8% in 2018), while 4.7% of CEOs comprise women among the 340 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone up to 5.1 years in 2021 (compared to five years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 57.4 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Life sciences & healthcare. 

Indonesia findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone down to 8.3% in 2021 (down from 9.3% in 2018), while 3.1% of CEOs comprise women among the 96 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has stayed steady at 7.1 years in 2021 (compared to 7.1 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 58.5 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Financial services.

Japan findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 8.2% in 2021 (up from 5.2% in 2018), while 0.3% of CEOs comprise women among the 1,249 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone up slightly to 3.2 years in 2021 (compared to 3.1 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 58.3 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Consumer business.

Malaysia findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 24% in 2021 (up from 20.6% in 2018), while 3.7% of CEOs comprise women among the 137 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone down slightly to 5.2 years in 2021 (compared to 5.4 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 57.5 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Energy & resources.

Pakistan findings

  • Board seats held by women were noted at 8.7% in 2021, while none of the 17 companies analysed had women CEOs,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member was 2.7 years.

Philippines findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 17.7% in 2021 (up from 13.9% in 2018), while 6.8% of CEOs comprise women among the 45 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone down to 8.6 years in 2021 (compared to 9.5 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 62.6 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Consumer business

Singapore findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 17.6% in 2021 (up from 13.7% in 2018), while 13.1% of CEOs comprise women among the 101 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone down to 4.4 years in 2021 (compared to five years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 58.1 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Technology, media & telecommunications.

South Korea findings

  • Board seats held by women has almost doubled to 4.2% in 2021 (up from 2.4% in 2018), while 2.4% of CEOs comprise women among the 427 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone up to 4.5 years in 2021 (compared to 2.6 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 54.3 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Energy & resources.

Taiwan findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 12.2% in 2021 (up from 9.3% in 2018), while 5.2% of CEOs comprise women among the 382 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has gone up to 9.6 years in 2021 (compared to 8.2 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 59.3 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Financial services.

Thailand findings

  • Board seats held by women has gone up to 17.8% in 2021 (up from 14.2% in 2018), while 11.6% of CEOs comprise women among the 124 companies analysed,
  • Average tenure of a woman board member has stayed steady at 7.7 years in 2021 (compared to 7.7 years in 2018), while the average age of this demographic is 59.6 years,
  • Top industry with the highest percentage of women on boards: Energy & resources.

Vietnam findings

  • Board seats held by women held up at 17% as noted from all Vietnamese listed entities 2020.
  • 9% of CEOs comprise women, also as noted from all Vietnamese listed entities 2020.

 Image / Deloitte report: Women in the boardroom: A global perspective.

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