Gender diversity in the boardroom

The Business Times
View From The Top
Published: 12nd May 2014

Is gender diversity the business of corporate boards?
How do corporations ensure that their boards are broadly diverse?

I AM all for gender diversity and this is evident from the number of women in our senior management team at PrimeStaff.

While I certainly support initiatives that will help increase the regrettably low proportion of women directors on corporate boards, I don’t believe that it should be mandated via legislation or quotas. Forcing companies to put women on their boards will be counter-productive and work against the women in the long run, as doing so just to hit the quota may propagate a perception that they are less deserving and thus defeat the purpose entirely.

In my view, gender diversity is not necessarily the business of corporate boards. However, it is the corporation’s duty to ensure that its policies enable all qualified individuals to be given equal opportunity for consideration based on the individual’s merits. Prescriptive measures aside, this issue also has to do with cultural norms where corporate boards are still largely perceived to be a ”boys’ club” in Singapore.

Corporations should address the root of the issue and find ways to create a paradigm shift among their top management – to dismantle this perception and be more open to welcoming women into the C-suite and ultimately, onto their boards. Only then will the right foundation be laid for lasting cultural change to take hold.
Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd