Women on boards of public companies way behind 30% target, says Najib

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(May 8): Malaysian women only make up 16% of the boards of public companies, far behind Putrajaya's target of 30% women participation in top positions by 2016, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The number of women sitting on listed boards is even more abysmal, registering at only 10.3%.

"I wanted to see women make up 30% of the boards of all public companies. But, on this, we are currently behind target,” said the prime minister when launching the “Lead the change – getting women on boards” event in Kuala Lumpur today.

"So I urge the leaders among you to do more, to take the next step, to break those glass ceilings and install women on your boards.”

Najib also launched the Malaysian chapter of the 30% Club aimed at promoting more women in decision-making positions.

Unlike some countries which legislate a quota of women in top positions, Malaysia adopts a voluntary approach to encourage public and listed companies to increase more women in top decision-making positions.

However, there is a silver lining, as according to a survey by TalentCorp and PWC conducted last year, women now make up 24% of top management positions in public-listed companies.

Najib said in the civil service, the 30% target of women in decision-making positions has been reached in Jusa C and above grades.

Citing the 2015 study on salaries in Asia by global recruitment firm Hays, he said 34% of management positions in Malaysia were held by women, 5% higher than last year and above Asia's average of 29%.

"We ranked second only to China, and for the first time, we overtook Hong Kong and Singapore," he said.

The country is also on track to achieve its goal of female labour participation rate of 55% by year-end, touching 53.6% last year from 46% in 2009.

Najib said this translated into some 600,000 women joining the workforce, and an extra 0.3% to GDP growth per year.

He also said government-linked companies (GLCs) could now allow their executives to sit on boards of other listed companies.  

"I would like to announce that from now on, GLCs will by policy allow their executives to serve on boards of other listed companies, and I would encourage all listed companies to follow suit in addition to leveraging on the pool of their own serving women executives when appointing new board members.” – The Malaysian Insider