SINGAPORE: Singtel received the top award for corporate governance in Singapore on Tuesday (Apr 3), topping a list of 100 Singapore publicly listed companies.
It is the fourth time it has won the award since 2013.
It was also recognised for board diversity by the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID), as well as the National University of Singapore’s Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO).
SID and CGIO evaluated the companies using the ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard, a joint initiative of the Asian Development Bank and the ASEAN Capital Market Forum to improve corporate governance standards in the region.
The scorecard examines and ranks the top listed companies across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam on their performance and also looks at key areas such as the rights, roles and equitable treatment shareholders and stakeholders, as well as the responsibilities of the companies’ board. It also studies compliance with disclosure rules and transparency.
The scorecard also assesses board diversity – companies are considered diverse if they have female independent directors and have disclosed a detailed board diversity policy.
BOARD DIVERSITY AWARD
Singtel, along with the Singapore Exchange and DBS Group Holdings, was also a recipient of the inaugural Board Diversity Award, with women representing about one-third of Singtel’s board of directors.
United Overseas Bank and Olam International also won awards for most improved performance, with both companies moving up 22 spots and 35 spots respectively, to break through to the top 10 ranking for the first time.
“A key aspect of good corporate governance is board diversity," said SID’s chairman Willie Cheng.
“It avoids groupthink and uncritical conformity," he said, adding that while there are many dimensions of diversity, such as age, skills, industry and nationalities, gender diversity is being emphasised because of the under-representation of women on boards.
Mr Cheng also launched the book Women on Board: Making a Real Difference at the awards ceremony. The book is SID’s "latest initiative to support and promote greater gender diversity on Singapore boards”, he said.
The book features personal stories by 24 women directors on the boards of Singapore’s biggest companies and non-profit organisations, ranging from veterans to newcomers in a range of industries.
Mr Cheng said that while the latest data from SID show that 431 women directors or 11.9 per cent of total directors now sit on Singapore-listed companies, these women only occupy 10.8 per cent of the board seats.
He added that though this is “the first year we have crossed the 10 per cent mark for female directorships, we are still far behind the target of 20 per cent by 2020”.