The 30% Club Malaysia founding chair Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar (front row, centre) says during the course of 2017, the club has been focusing its efforts in helping to place at least one woman director on all-male boards, particularly those of large market cap or top 100 companies. (Pic by 30% Club Malaysia)

KUALA LUMPUR: The 30% Club Malaysia chapter is intensifying its efforts to help Malaysia achieve 30 per cent women representation on public listed corporate boards by 2020.

Hosting a Business Leaders’ Roundtable followed by the Board Mentoring Scheme, founding chair of the club Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar said the country has set itself a target to reach 30 per cent women representation on public-listed boards by 2020, and the 30% Club is working very hard to meet this target.

“During the course of 2017, we have been focusing our efforts in helping to place at least one woman director on all-male boards, particularly those of large market cap or top 100 companies, and I am pleased to report we are making very good progress,” she said in a statement today.

The Business Leaders’ Roundtable is the 30% Club’s platform to engage with senior directors of public-listed companies on their specific challenges in meeting the boardroom diversity target.

Several sessions have already been completed during the year, giving the 30% Club insights on the difficulties that boards face in engaging women directors, including knowing where to source for qualified candidates and finding those with specific skills.

In thanking the Roundtable participants comprising Chairs of Boards and Nomination Committees for their support and participation, Zarinah said that since its launch in Malaysia in May 2015, the 30% Club’s initiatives, such as the Leaders’ Roundtable, mentoring programme, and placements of women directors, have yielded positive results.

“We are seeing more Boards acknowledging that gender diversity makes good business sense. And with more qualified women making themselves available for board appointments, we are almost reaching our target of having at least one woman on Boards of top 100 companies by 2018,” she added.

Bursa data shows, of the 923 companies listed, one hundred are Top 100 companies. The Q3 2017 statistics indicate that the percentage of Top 100 companies that have 30% women representation has risen to 19.1% from 16.6% at end-2016. The number of Top 100 companies that do not have a single woman on their boards has fallen to ten today, from fourteen in Q3 2017.

The 30% Club said while the pathway to board directorship may not always be a smooth passage for some, the Roundtable also discussed barriers that are put up by women themselves.

Some of the examples cited include women being discouraged by the perceived “negatives”, such as heavy penalties put on board directors for non-compliance or the daunting task of learning a new business or its vocabulary, barriers that may be overcome through meaningful engagement and mentoring.

The 30% Club cross-sector Board Mentoring Scheme was piloted in July this year in partnership with PwC Malaysia.

Following its success, the second instalment was kicked off after the Roundtable with a new batch of 10 mentors and 10 mentees.

The function of the Mentoring Scheme is to help improve the profiling of potential women candidates by connecting potential women directors with current Chairs, Board Directors and senior corporate leaders.

The programme is designed to provide the mentees a better chance at being appointed to boards and benefitting from the counsel and possible referral of their mentors.

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