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S'pore still lags behind in gender diversity among board directors: Grace Fu

Six out of 10 companies in Singapore have all-male boards, and only 8 per cent of board directors in the country are women. This puts Singapore behind its Asian neighbours, like Hong Kong (9 per cent) and Indonesia (11 per cent).

SINGAPORE: Six out of 10 companies in Singapore have all-male boards, and only 8 per cent of board directors in the country are women. This puts Singapore behind its Asian neighbours, like Hong Kong (9 per cent) and Indonesia (11 per cent).

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu gave these statistics at the PAP Women's Wing's annual conference on Saturday.

She told reporters that efforts over the past year to get companies to improve gender diversity on their boards have been slow.

"We're not happy with the progress," said Ms Fu, who is the chairperson of the PAP Women's Wing.

"For a company to say that I value women as employees is one thing. But when there're no board appointments, it sends the wrong signal to women working in that company," she said.

Ms Fu also told reporters that for now, there are no plans to push for legislation on women's representation in companies' senior management. But she said she was not ruling out the possibility in future.

"What we need is not legislation, and therefore perhaps a token appointment. We need companies to really look at this (women leaders) as a source of human capital, and to start building from the ground policies, development and training programmes that really look at tapping women as a resource," said Ms Fu.

The Women's Wing also presented a position paper focusing on seniors in Singapore.

The 15-page paper calls on the government to legislate elder care leave, amongst a slew of other health-care, housing, and employment improvements for seniors.

The Women's Wing will lobby for a law to give caregivers elder care leave of one week.

"This is realistic. As you know, our elderly and seniors have to go for check-ups and their rehabilitation programmes at least a few times a year, so I think a week (of elder care leave) would be a good start-off number," said Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, who is a member of the PAP Women's Wing and an MP for Marine Parade GRC.

Apart from elder care leave, the Women's Wing is also urging the government to set up a respite care scheme for senior citizens, offer a higher subsidy for - or even free - health screening for needy seniors.

On employment, the group recommends government loans for entrepreneurship, more skills training and a "lifelong learning college" to raise the value of seniors in the job market and tackle any ageist attitudes.

The focus on the elderly is in tandem with the recent formation of PAP’s new wing for seniors called PAP.SG.

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