Sharing the experience of women’s representation on boards

Asialink Diplomacy worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to manage a dialogue between senior political and business leaders to discuss women’s representation on corporate boards in Singapore and Australia.

On 21 August, Asialink Diplomacy worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to manage a dialogue between senior political and business leaders to discuss women’s representation on corporate boards in Singapore and Australia.

The dialogue was hosted by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Singapore’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Josephine Teo. Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore His Excellency Mr Bruce Gosper, Singapore’s High Commissioner to Australia His Excellency Mr Kwok Fook Seng, and DFAT Secretary Ms Frances Adamson were present. Distinguished guests joined 17 chairmen and women, CEO’s and Board Directors from a range of sectors including law, sport, academia, and technology.

Asialink Diplomacy prepared a background paper for the dialogue which presented the major findings from the existing research about women’s representation on boards. A growing body of literature connects the higher representation of women in boardrooms with effective decision making and business performance. Gender diverse boards also have the potential to transform how the next generation of professional women are treated in the workplace.

Other research demonstrates that promoting more women into decision-making roles can bring new perspectives to complex problems, promote a more flexible and inclusive approach to work, and strengthen the opportunities for younger women.

Over the last several years, leaders in business, civil society, and government in both countries have strived to take forward this agenda to increase women’s representation on boards. Movements like the Champions of Change are magnifying the voice of supportive male leaders who raise awareness of gender discrimination. Investors and industry groups are also calling for more diversity in the governance of leading companies.

At the dialogue, it was identified that government has an important leadership role to play through the implementation of targets for government boards. Importantly, however, dialogue participants identified that there is a gap between what can be mandated and achieved between publicly listed company boards and privately owned company boards.

Ideas from the discussion largely focused on a cultural change imperative. This includes prioritising women for board recruitment, educating male leaders to promote gender diverse initiatives, and rethinking the concept of merit in the context of organisational needs. Delegates also shared different strategies for nurturing female talent within organisations.

The dialogue was convened under the auspices of the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that was established in 2015, and was part of the 2017 joint-ministerial meetings between Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Defence.

View the images from the Singapore-Australia High Level Womens Dialogue.

More Information

Erin Watson-Lynn

+ 61 3 8344 8421