• MEDIA ROUND UP

    Diversity Directory coverage and the latest from thought leaders on Diversity and Inclusion around the world.

  • IN THE NEWS

    Thought provoking CIPD article from Felicity Menzies on Unconscious Bias referencing

    DiversityDirectory Asia Pacific's role in expanding access to diverse talent. https://lnkd.in/bkun-uJ

    It’s time to get serious about the business case for gender diversity, says Felicity Menzies

    CIPD OPINION

     

  • Out and About

    CoFounder Leesa Soulodre presents DiversityDirectory Asia Pacific to Asia's leaders from the Diversity and Inclusion Action Network at the DIAN Member Meeting held at Microsoft, Singapore on the 20th April 2016.

     CoFounder Leesa Soulodre presents DiversityDirectory at the DIAN Member meeting in Singapore.
  • INFLUENCE DISCLOSURE

    Thank you for helping us to move the needle on the gender diversity of listed companies by responding to SGX's Public Consultation on its Sustainability Guide.

    MOVE THE NEEDLE ON DIVERSITY IN SINGAPORE - SGX

    In September last year we encouraged you to participate in the public consultation by the HK Stock Exchange on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure standards. In particular to make your voice heard on the challenge of board diversity reporting. On the 5th January 2016, SGX have also now put out their consultation paper for Sustainability reporting where both ESG and Diversity are covered.

     

    SGX is seeking feedback for the inclusion of Anti-corruption and Diversity as part of the primary components. Other features awaiting comment include matters relating to stakeholder engagement, materiality, responsibilities of the board, and frequency of reporting. For the latter, SGX proposes that reports be published annually, within 5 months after the end of each financial year. All listed companies will begin sustainability reporting for any financial year ending on or after 31 December 2017.

     

    The proposed amendments and the guidelines will be open for public comment until 5 Feb 2016.

     

    For the current state of board diversity in Asia, the CGIO-Korn Ferry "Diversity Matters" report does an excellent job at outlining the Board diversity landscape in Asia. In Singapore the percentage of women on boards is still low (9.1%) despite small improvements. 53.9% of the companies listed on Singapore Exchange have only men on their boards, a slight improvement from end 2014’s 55.5%. Singapore trails behind other international financial markets in terms of women’s representation on boards. This is inconsistent with the high number of women in senior management and professional roles. While gender always attracts the most attention, age, academic background, cultural heritage and experience can all have a positive impact on an organisation.

     

    Singapore's listed companies are encouraged to have a board diversity policy. However, this has so far failed to significantly impact positive change in the gender diversity of Singapore's listed boards. According to research, for many listed companies, board diversity is not 'top of mind', let alone gender diversity. Despite a growing body of international research highlighting the many benefits of a more diverse board and well-meaning initiatives like the 30% Club and directorship training programmes, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and other Asian markets are stagnating on this issue.

    The global financial crisis in 2008 revealed severe shortcomings in corporate governance, including the lack of diversity in terms of gender, race/ethnicity and international expertise. As a result, capital markets and shareholders/institutional investors are paying greater attention to companies’ corporate governance, including and especially the gender composition of boards of these companies*.

     

    If you agree that diversity in the workplace and at board level is important, we encourage you to participate. Given the 5 core Stock Exchanges work hard to align on corporate governance and ESG Disclosure standards this is an opportunity to not only influence Singapore standards but also to indirectly influence the rest of the region.

    In line with SGX’s Guidelines, Paia is rolling out a Toolkit to simplify the reporting process specifically for SMEs. This Toolkit provides SMEs with the necessary tools to produce a sustainability report in line with SGX’s requirements. Read more about it here.

     

    The primary components proposed to be included in sustainability reports are:

    1. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors material to the company,
    2. Policies, practices and performance of the company in relation to each material ESG factors,
    3. Targets for the forthcoming year,
    4. The Sustainability Reporting Framework used, and
    5. A Board Statement confirming compliance with SGX’s guidelines or explaining incompliance

    The guidelines also provide some flexibility to companies. A phased approach for implementation of sustainability reporting is recommended, such that newly reporting companies are given time to ensure that their sustainability disclosures have quality and depth. Companies are also not expected to provide independent assurance of their reports in the early stages.

     

    More information about the consultation paper can be found here:

    References:

    DISCLOSURE MATTERS - HONG KONG CALL TO ACTION

    Leading countries such as Australia, Canada, and the UK require listed companies to make disclosures on the representation of women on their boards and in their workforce. Compared to a paltry 11% women on Hong Kong's listed boards, these countries have seen their numbers escalate significantly in recent years as global momentum on this issue has intensified. Based on our observations, transparency of corporate gender data, coupled with enlightened leadership, accelerates change.

    Since September 2013, Hong Kong's listed companies are required, on a 'comply or explain' basis, to have a board diversity policy, to set measurable objectives, and to report on progress. However, this has so far failed to significantly impact positive change in the gender diversity of Hong Kong's listed boards. According to Community Business' research, for many Hong Kong listed companies, board diversity is not 'top of mind', let alone gender diversity. Despite a growing body of international research highlighting the many benefits of a more diverse board and well-meaning initiatives like the 30% Club and directorship training programmes, Hong Kong is stagnating on this issue.

    If you agreed that gender diversity in the workplace and at board level is important, we encouraged you to submit a response to the Public Consultation by customising your response using this simple template that specifically responds to Q15 of the Consultation Paper.


    We also encouraged you to respond to other questions which cover wider areas of responsible business, such as environmental disclosures.

    Why did we ask for your support to this initiative?

    To understand why we were asking you to act, you may refer to the rationale that is stated in the Community Business full submission here: http://www.communitybusiness.org/library/cp201507q_CommunityBusiness.pdf

    If you would like to read more about the ESG Consultation, please see: http://www.hkex.com.hk/eng/newsconsul/mktconsul/Documents/cp201507.pdf.

    Thank you for circulating this widely to your contacts. This was a practical and timely opportunity for us – jointly and individually – to influence change. We hope that through our collective effort in partnership with Community Business, we were able to encourage Hong Kong's companies to take the subject of women in the workplace seriously and bring about positive and sustainable change in Hong Kong and across Asia.

     

    This public Consultation ended on 25 September 2015.

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