Having more women as members of a company’s board of directors is not only an issue of gender fairness. According to Moez Miaoui, IFC’s Corporate Governance Program Manager in Indonesia, “Recent research in business and economics showed strong correlation between firms’ performance with the increase of women sitting the boards.”
A study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute compared the share performance of companies with market capitalization of more than $10 billion over the past six years, and found that those with female board members outperformed their counterparts with all-male boards by 26 percent.
The Women on Boards Initiative in Indonesia
In Indonesia, women make up more than half of the country’s workforce, yet, according to a report by McKinsey, only 6 percent have made it to the boards of listed companies. In Asia, this statistic is not unique but it is well below averages in Europe (17 percent) and the US (15 percent).
To raise public awareness on the issue, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group focused on private sector development, hosted the first roundtable discussion last March 6 on the role of women on corporate boards in Indonesia.
Jointly organized with the Center for the Study of Governance of the University of Indonesia, the Women Corporate Directors association and Institut Pengembangan Manajemen Indonesia, the event was attended by more than 60 business leaders. The panelists, all female board members and prominent business owners, shared their experiences of breaking the corporate ceiling and discussed what they perceived as obstacles to greater access for women at the top of the business ladder.
In the future, this initiative will focus on training to empower and build the capacity of women aspiring to reach top positions as well as promoting specific activities with companies intending to seize the benefits of gender diversity.
Changing the mindset of companies and general public on women’s role
“Women still struggle when trying to balance their professional and personal lives. We need to work more on educating the public and communicating to society,” said Natalia Soebagio, a businesswoman and lecturer at the University of Indonesia. “Some men are still intimidated by successful women.”