PETALING JAYA: The Securities Commission (SC) has announced that there are only seven large companies of the top 100 listed companies on Bursa Malaysia with all-male boards as of Jan 17.
This is a 65% improvement from 20 companies as at Dec 31, 2016.
The SC said in a statement that the seven remaining companies were Affin Holdings Bhd, Alliance Bank Bhd, Batu Kawan Bhd, Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd, Genting Plantations Bhd, Genting Malaysia Bhd and UOA Development Bhd.
Currently, the SC and the 30% Club Malaysia have been actively engaging the companies.
“We understand that some of the companies are taking steps to identify suitable candidates to secure women participation on their boards.
“Fraser & Neave will be nominating two women candidates to be appointed as board members in its upcoming AGM,” said the securities regulator.
As of Dec 31, 2017, 19.2% of board seats on the top 100 listed companies on Bursa were occupied by women – up from 16.6% in the same period in 2016.
During the launch of the Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance (MCCG) on April 26 last year, the SC has set a target to have no all-male boards on the top 100 companies by the end of this year.
Under the MCCG, companies are required to disclose their gender diversity policy, targets and measures.
In addition, large companies as defined in the MCCG are also expected to have at least 30% women directors on their board.
Hence, promoting gender diversity on boards of listed companies will remain a priority of the SC.
This dovetails with the launching of Women Empowerment Year 2018 by the Government recently.
Moving forward, the SC said it would review and analyse corporate governance disclosures to monitor the level of implementation of MCCG practices including gender diversity.
These observations would be published by the SC through periodic corporate governance thematic reports, it added.
The Government is making a strong statement to achieve the target of at least 30% women on the major public-listed companies’ (PLCs) boards of directors by 2020.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has described 2018 as the year to empower women and directed that 30% of members of the board of directors in government-linked companies, government-linked investment companies and statutory bodies must be women.
Najib had warned that PLCs which failed to have any woman on their boards by 2018 would be “named and shamed” this year.
Permodalan Nasional Bhd has appointed two women chairmen namely Datuk Mohaiyani Shamsudin for Malayan Banking Bhd and Normala Abdul Samad for CCM Bhd.
AirAsia Bhd has appointed actress and entrepreneur Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor as its non-executive independent director.
Meanwhile, the progress on gender diversity among the top 100 companies on Bursa is positive but needs to be accelerated, according to women’s rights advocates.
Dr Cecilia Ng hoped that the 2.6% increase in the board seats occupied by women heralds more seats in coming years.
“But there should be an acceleration. There should be enforcement and some kind of reward and ‘punishment’ for those who achieve the minimum target and those who default,” said the independent researcher.
“Malaysia ratified Cedaw (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) in 1995. It’s more than 25 years and we are still very much behind,” added Ng who is also a former director of the Penang Women’s Development Corporation.
Shanthi Dairiam commended the SC for setting the target that there should be no company without women directors by end 2018.
However, the former member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women said the SC’s bar was too low. “It is easy to meet the target by appointing just one female director. Diversity cannot be achieved through tokenism...there must eventually be a critical mass of the less represented population.
“SC’s target is breaking the ceiling and creating a dent but it must not remain a dent. It must require companies to show an annual rate of improvement in appointing women directors.
“The Cedaw requires that the achievement of equality be accelerated and progressive.
“There should be a requirement for disclosure annually with companies revealing the increase in the appointment of women directors with an explanation of why progressive appointment of women directors did not take place,” said Shanthi, adding that it could share good practices from other countries where women directors are on the increase.
Meera Samanther stressed that “an all no male on board is not a specific target.”
“There should be a specific 30% or more as a target. It’s not just about numbers on company boards,”said Meera, who is the vice-president of Women’s Aid Organisation and committee member of the Association of Women Lawyers.