RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Malaysia

Malaysian banks lead Southeast Asia in board diversity

Women make up over a third of boards compared to only 9% in the Philippines.

Bloomberg reports that banks in Malaysia have the highest representation of women on its boards at over 30%, beating its peers in the region. The outperformance of Malaysian banks is likely due to the country’s corporate governance code, which requires that women hold at least 30% of board seats at local firms, Meggin Thwing Eastman, the Boston-based head of MSCI Inc told Bloomberg. 

Indonesia follows at second place with over 15% and Thailand rounds out the top three. In comparison, female representation at Singapore banks only hit 13% and the numbers are far more dismal in the Philippines where the average is just at 9%. 

Banks with more women on their boards tend to perform better in measures including return on assets when female participation reaches a “critical level” of between 13% and 17%, provided the banks are well capitalized, according to a February study published by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

However, of all the 15 banks in the Bloomberg survey, the best performer was in Thailand, where a certain level of board representation for women isn’t compulsory as Bangkok-based Kasikornbank has seven female directors, or almost 40% of the 18-member board.

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