Board Monitor Singapore 2022
Boards & Governance

Board Monitor Singapore 2022

STI 30 companies appointed the largest cohort of new directors in five years, with more emphasis on retired executives and those with prior board experience.
Heidrick & Struggles
About the report

This report is part of Heidrick & Struggles’ long-standing study of trends in board composition in countries around the world. Produced by our CEO & Board Practice, these reports track and analyze trends in non-executive director appointments to the boards of the largest publicly listed companies in Australia (ASX 200), Belgium (BEL 20), Brazil (BOVESPA), Canada (TSX 60), Denmark (OMX Copenhagen 25), Finland (OMX Helsinki 25), France (CAC 40), Germany (DAX and MDAX), Hong Kong (Hang Seng), Ireland (ISEQ), Italy (FTSE MIB), Kenya (Nairobi Securities Exchange Top 60), Mexico (BMV IPC), the Netherlands (AEX), New Zealand (NZX 10), Norway (OBX), Portugal (PSI 20), Saudi Arabia (Tadawul), Singapore (STI 30), South Africa (JSE Top 40), Spain (IBEX 35), Sweden (OMX 30), Switzerland (SMI Expanded), the United Arab Emirates (ADX and DFM), the United Kingdom (FTSE 350), and the United States (Fortune 500). Information about executives is gathered from publicly available sources, BoardEx, and a Heidrick & Struggles proprietary database.

As society and business are reconciling the events of the past two years and a new corporate license to operate is taking shape in many countries, there is a marked need for boards to understand what changes they need to make in order to successfully lead their organizations through both the near- and long-term futures. Sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), wellness, and social contributions used to be peripheral issues but have become table stakes thanks to increased pressure from a wide spectrum of stakeholders and increasing regulatory demands.

Companies require a new, bolder type of leadership that is focused on organizational purpose, factors in the new demands from their workforce and has “doing good while doing well” as a mantra. Boards must consider what new skills and experiences are necessary to future-proof themselves to lead companies in an increasingly uncertain environment.

So, what does the cohort of directors added to STI30 boards in 2021 look like? It’s the largest cohort of new directors in five years: STI companies have regained their appetite for board refreshment.

Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 1

Compared to Hong Kong’s Hang Seng companies, Singapore boards opted for higher shares of directors who are retired and have previous public board experience.

Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 2
Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 3

Singapore boards showed high levels of interest in directors with CEO and other C-level experience, but, in a break from tradition, less often seated people with CFO or COO experience.

Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 4

Gender diversity took a dip compared to the prior year, with a particularly large decrease in the share of seats going to women in industrial companies.

Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 5
Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 6

The average age of new directors increased, likely as a consequence of boards opting for more retired directors and those with previous public board experience.

Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 7

In 2021, 93% of seats went to directors over 55, and only 2% went to those under 45.

Board Monitor Singapore 2022 chart 8

What are best-in-class boards doing?

  • Seeking new directors whose backgrounds go beyond CEO, such as CFO and COO
  • Being open to first-time board members
  • Bolstering ESG capabilities by casting a wider net for new board candidates: people with sustainability backgrounds in policy, capital allocation and resource management, and community and stakeholder engagement might be a good starting point
  • Creating a space for temporary seats at the table or bringing in voices from outside
  • Thinking of succession planning as an ongoing exercise rather than an exercise undertaken in reaction to an annual deadline
  • Incorporating future business strategies and scenarios into succession planning

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Jiat-Hui Wu, Hnn-Hui Hii, and Tonny Loh for their contributions to this report.

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