South-East Asia sees an increase in women on the board of directors

While the global rate of females on corporate boards is seeing an uptick of representation, more can be done to raise these numbers.
By: | March 19, 2024

Across corporate board seats globally, less than a quarter of these seats are held by women at 23.3%.

This is a 3.6%-point increase from 2022, as revealed by Deloitte Global’s Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective, which published its eighth edition this year. The report surveyed 18,085 organisations across Asia-Pacific, the Americas, and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)

The report shared that while there has been an increase in the number of women serving on corporate boards, with numbers in South-East Asia growing, gender parity across board chair roles is unlikely before 2038.

Within South-East Asia, organisations across the region are seeing an increase in the percentage of board seats held by women, from 17.1% in 2021 to 19.9% in 2023 – a 2.8% point rise in the last two years. Malaysia is leading in terms of the percentage of board seats held by female leaders thanks to their government initiative of having a quota of at least one woman on the board for listed companies, with commendable headway made despite not yet meeting the target of 30% women directors set in the Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance. 

Singapore trails behind the global average of 23.3% of board seats held by women at 20.8%, while still surpassing the Asia-Pacific average of 14.8% and South-East Asia average of 19.9%.

Despite this, the report still noted that these numbers decreased from those reported in 2021, serving as a reminder that more needs to be done to advance gender parity in leadership.

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“While many countries in the region do not have legal requirements or quotas for the number of women on boards, this upward trend indicates a growing recognition of the positive impact of gender diversity in the boardroom, which is especially important as organisations respond to new and evolving business challenges,” said Seah Gek Choo, Boardroom Programme Leader, Deloitte South East-Asia and Singapore.