Demand for Female Directors on Asia Pacific Boards Remains High, but Representation is Still Low, According to Korn/Ferry Gender Board Diversity Study

By Kornferry International, PRNE
Saturday, March 5, 2011

Females continue to be under-represented in boards of Asia Pacific companies

SINGAPORE, March 7, 2011 - Initial findings in a board diversity study by Korn/Ferry International
has found that female representation on boards of directors in the Asia
region remains low and that female directors have different
demographic characteristics compared to male directors.

Despite an increasing recognition for boards to incorporate diversity
considerations, including gender, when appointing directors, the study found
the percentage of female directors continues to be low across the region.
More than 70 percent of boards in five countries - Hong Kong, India,
Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore - have no female independent directors.
Boards with three or more female directors were rare, while boards with three
or more female independent directors were almost non-existent.

The findings are part of a broader study on board diversity undertaken by
Korn/Ferry and led by Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen of the NUS Business
School at the National University of Singapore, who is a recognized authority
on corporate governance in Asia.

The study, the first in the Asia Pacific region focusing on board
diversity, covers the largest 100 domestic companies by market capitalization
in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore. The
study compares the extent to which female and male directors hold key
leadership positions on boards, as well as the profiles of female and male
directors in these countries. A total of 4,630 directors holding a total of
5,335 directorships in these companies were included in the study.

"The world is taking notice of the potential and power of women - as
consumers, as leaders and as a growing majority of the talent pool," said
Alicia Yi, managing director strategic client services of Korn/Ferry
International Asia Pacific. "There has been an increasing demand for female
board candidates across the globe as companies start to recognize that
successful boards should reflect the markets they serve and that homogenous
leadership teams can be less equipped to do business in an increasing complex
business environment," she added.

The study also found a key number of differences between the demographic
characteristics of female and male directors, including:

    - Female directors are younger than male directors across all
      countries, by about three years on average.
    - Female directors were more likely than male directors to have law
      or accounting educational backgrounds, while male directors were more
      likely to have engineering and science backgrounds.
    - The average tenure of female independent directors is shorter
      than male directors across all countries.

Commenting on the results of the study, Professor Mak said, "Discussions
on appropriate board composition continues to evolve from a focus on
independence, to competencies, to commitment, and now to diversity. There is
an increasing recognition that boards need to incorporate diversity
considerations when appointing directors, including having gender diversity.
The study shows that female directors who are appointed on boards have
different demographic profiles compared to male directors, and therefore they
enhance board diversity beyond just gender diversity."

"A lot of leading companies are now taking diversity, including gender
diversity, issues quite seriously - setting employee targets, tracking and
looking for ways to improve - as increasing evidence suggests that more
diverse boards and management teams can be more effective," said Yi.

"As Asia continues on its growth path and becomes a critical component of
the global economy, I have no doubt that the whole issue of board diversity
and composition will accelerate as companies recognize that the most
effective boards will be the ones that are international - and with more
functional, sector and gender diversity," she added.

Additional key findings on gender diversity on Asia Pacific boards

    - Female directors are generally underrepresented in board leadership
      positions such as board chairs and board committee chairs.
    - Australia has the highest percentage of female directors with
      11.2 percent of all directors being female.
    - Only 14 out of the 600 boards in the six countries have more than
      two female directors.
    - Only one out of the 600 boards in the six countries has three or
      more female independent directors.
    - The percentage of female directors varies among executive directors,
      non-independent non-executive directors, and independent non-executive
      directors. Hong Kong has the highest percentage of female executive
      directors; Malaysia has the highest percentage of female
      non-independent non-executive directors; and Australia has the highest
      percentage of female independent non-executive directors.

Korn/Ferry Board & CEO Services Practice

Korn/Ferry International's Board & CEO Services Practice assists clients
with board director search and selection, CEO Search and selection, CEO
Succession Planning and assessment, board effectiveness, and
director/executive compensation consulting.

About Korn/Ferry International Asia Pacific

Korn/Ferry International, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia
, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is a premier global provider of
talent management solutions. Korn/Ferry was the first major global executive
search firm to operate in Asia Pacific when it opened its doors in Tokyo in
1973 and today has 18 offices in key business centres throughout the region.
Based in Los Angeles, the firm delivers an array of solutions that help
clients to attract, deploy, develop and reward their talent. Visit for more information on the Korn/Ferry International family
of companies, and for thought leadership,
intellectual property and research.

Carol Lo of Korn/Ferry International, +65-6231-6219, carol.lo at

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