Below is an excerpt from ISS Corporate Solution’s recently released paper “Gender Diversity Grows on Asian Boards but Still Lags the West”. The full paper is available for download from the ISS Corporate Solutions (ICS) online library.
Women have gained ground on corporate boards across Asia as regulators and large investor groups push for greater gender balance. In 2022, institutional investors and proxy advisors increasingly expanded their gender diversity policy into proxy voting guidelines for major Asian markets. In countries like Japan and Singapore, regulators have mandated disclosure on gender diversity rather than setting a quota of female directors.
Research by ISS Corporate Solutions shows that the number of board members in leadership positions remains low in most Asian markets with wide variation between countries and sectors. In China, almost half of the female board members hold leadership positions. Sectors such as Energy lag industries including Healthcare and Consumer Staples.
- Higher expectations on gender diversity have been set in the West, while a minimum quota of having one female board member has been introduced across major Asian markets
- Top global asset managers are setting gender diversity requirements through their proxy voting policies that are more ambitious than the targets set by regulators in some Asian markets
- Major Asian markets within ISS Governance QualityScore coverage recorded an increase in female representation on boards but the percentage of women leaders out of all female board positions stagnated or decreased
- Other than in Singapore and India, the majority of Asian companies either just meet or fall short of the minimum requirement on gender diversity set by regulators or investors
- The largest proportion of Asian companies without an all-male board are in the Financial sector and the Consumer Staples sector
By: Herman Choi, Head of APAC Advisory, ISS Corporate Solutions
Isaac Cheng, APAC Advisory, ISS Corporate Solutions