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Compulsory 30pc women stake in top-level posts by 2016

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Putrajaya announced today that the corporate sector must have at least 30 per cent women’s representation at boardroom level in five years’ time.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in making the announcement at the Parliament lobby today, said the policy was approved at last week’s Cabinet meeting.

“The government acknowledges that women are important for the development and well-being of the country. So last week, the Cabinet approved a policy stipulating that there must be at least 30 per cent of women holding decision-making posts in the corporate sector,” he told a press conference attended by ministry officials and scores of female corporate figures who were invited to witness the announcement.

At his words, the prime minister received a boisterous round of applause and a standing ovation from the group of women surrounding him at the Parliament lobby here.

Najib said the move was an extension of a similar government policy introduced in 2004 for the public sector, which saw an increase in women participation from 18.8 per cent that year to 32.3 per cent last year.

“This policy will be a catalyst for affirmative action towards achieving gender equality in the corporate sector. Aside from ensuring that expertise, competition and leadership skills among women are optimised, this step can also lead to better diversity and inclusiveness in the boardroom,” he said.

As of 2010, added Najib, only 13 per cent or 91 women were appointed as board directors in the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

Of the 200 companies listed on Bursa Malaysia, he said, women only take up 7.6 per cent of boardroom-level posts as at November 2010 while there are only 6 per cent or 45 women holding such posts in financial institutions, as at April this year.

Speaking to reporters later, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil (picture) said the policy paved the way for capable women to fill positions of power and participate in decision-making processes in the future.

Asked if the government planned on imposing any penalty on firms that fail to fulfil the minimum 30 per cent quota for female participation in corporate boardroom posts, Shahrizat said she was certain that the stipulated five-year transition plan was a “practical” duration for companies to comply with.

“We are working closely with the Securities Commission, with Bank Negara, with Khazanah, with the GLCs (government-linked companies) and we have our strategic plan already. We will begin to audit the financial institutions and the various sectors in the corporate field.

“Our way is that in the first phase, it is by persuasion… that is why we did not recommend any laws to be enacted for this — we understand the market, productivity and profitability. I am very confident that you will see changes sooner than later,” she said.

She added that she was certain the policy would be well-accepted by the corporate sector, claiming that studies have shown an increase in productivity level due to gender diversity in top management.

“Women represent half the nation and we are a critical consumer mass so I do not see why women should be left out in the decision-making process,” she said.

Source : The Malaysian Insider

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