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Women joining company boards but few chair them: Deloitte Global survey

WHILE women now hold 12 per cent of boardroom seats worldwide, only 4 per cent are chairing boards, according to the fourth edition of the "Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective" by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte Global).

For Singapore specifically, there are currently no gender quotas for women on boards or in senior management positions. According to the research, 9 per cent of board seats in Singapore are held by women, and women board chairmen make up 7 per cent. The energy & resources industry sees most women on its boards (14 per cent) and women usually hold positions in the boards' audit committees.

"In Southeast Asia, the percentage of board seats held by women does not cross the 10 per cent mark for each country, which is way behind the European economies with Norway topping at 36.7 per cent. The likely contributors to this are the traditional barriers that women have to overcome and insufficient family support," said David Chew, head of Deloitte Southeast Asia's Centre of Corporate Governance.

"The percentages in Southeast Asia, although very much lower than the other more mature world economies, are only for listed entities. Privately held companies have a higher percentage of women at decision-making roles and boards. As these companies grow to become listed entities and the evolution of societal norms, we can expect to see more women playing an active role at the senior management and board levels."

European countries continue to lead in gender diversity in the boardroom, with Norway, France, Sweden and Italy all ranking high. Regionally, countries in the Americas and the Asia-Pacific have progressed the least. According to the report, the regional breakdown of women chairs is: Europe, Middle East and Africa (5 per cent), the Americas (4 per cent) and the Asia-Pacific (4 per cent).