Could other Asian countries have much to learn from Singapore when it comes to gender diversity at the board level?
The island nation has been reported to boast the highest number of women CEOs (15%) in Asia, according to research released this week by Credit Suisse Research Institute. Hong Kong and Thailand followed at 12.5%.
The report, which polled over 3,000 companies and 28,000 senior managers across 40 countries and all major sectors, also highlighted female representation at the CEO level in Singapore was third highest globally after Portugal and Belgium, and well above the global average of 12.9%.
When it came to individual functions, the report found female representation at senior management levels was higher in CFO and strategy functions (41.2%), as opposed to functions such as operations (4.2%).
Almost half (46.8%) of senior management in Singapore’s shared services functions were also female.
However, among the Singapore companies surveyed, the overall percentage of women on boards dropped slightly from 8.6% in 2012 to 7.9% in 2013, back to the level of 2010.
“It’s been two years since we published the Gender Diversity and Corporate Performance report and there has been a lot of evidence to corroborate our original findings of the striking correlation between diversity at the board level and improved corporate financial performance,” said Stefano Natella, global head of equity research at Credit Suisse, said.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to revisit our arguments to see if they hold true in a post-crisis world and to consider what happens below the boardroom to assess whether diverse boards reflect diverse top management positions.”
However, Credit Suisse’s findings appear to be somewhat different from similar research around the region.
Last week, we published this article based on research from Bank of America Merril Lynch, which found the representation of women in Singapore at mid and senior levels to be trailing behind numerous other countries.
It found that while Singapore is a strong regional hub, there’s still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to female representation.
“The biggest leak in the pipeline remains between middle to senior level positions, with an average 41.6% drop in the representation of women between these levels,” the report read.
Granted, each survey focused on a different demographics and industries, but the results clearly indicate there is still some confusion around exactly how well a country like Singapore is progressing in terms of gender diversity and female participation at all levels of an organisation.
And it can be difficult to know exactly what needs to be done in order to solidify female representation in the workplace, especially when other studies find worrying scenarios of women losing confidence and ambition at work (which has nothing to do with marriage or starting a family).