The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Council for Board Diversity (CBD) to strengthen support for directors. 

According to a May 7 statement, the two parties will work together to advance board diversity — across skills, perspectives, experience, gender and backgrounds. 

Singapore’s pool of board talent is growing. According to CBD data, nearly half of all board appointments made at the 100 largest companies listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in 2022 went to directors without prior experience at SGX-listed issuers. 

At the same time, CBD data shows that while women’s participation on the boards of these 100 largest listed companies reached 22.7% as at June 2023, up from 15.2% at end-2018, there is still a “long road ahead” towards achieving gender balance on boards, says ISCA. 

To improve board governance and diversity, ISCA and CBD will hold events for first-time directors, women directors and aspiring directors. The two parties will also collaborate on joint articles and publications.

As part of the mentoring pillar of ISCA’s new Board of Directors (BOD) Masterclass Programme, ISCA will leverage industry leaders’ experiences and insights to benefit the programme’s participants. 

See also: More than a quarter of top 100 SGX-listed issuers have board sustainability committees, up from just six in 2017: CBD

A signature of the BOD Masterclass Programme is its new mentoring programme, led by Boon Swan Foo, ISCA Distinguished Lifetime Member and Fellow Chartered Accountant of Singapore. 

Apart from Boon, the list of mentors includes ISCA Distinguished Lifetime Members Fang Ai Lian and Euleen Goh, chair of the Singapore Business Federation’s Board of Trustees and chairman of SATS respectively. 

Also on the mentor list are Goh Swee Chen, chairman of Nanyang Technological University’s Board of Trustees; and Neo Boon Siong, non-executive director at Chip Eng Seng Corporation.

See also: ISCA launches ‘fast-track route’ for local accountancy undergraduates to become Chartered Accountants of Singapore

Launched in February, ISCA’s BOD Masterclass Programme includes training programmes recognised by the Singapore Exchange Regulation. Through a mix of “bite-sized online courses” and “facilitated in-person learning”, ISCA says its programme will help directors stay updated on industry trends, regulatory changes and best practices. 

ISCA members and BOD Masterclass Programme participants will also be able to leverage ISCA’s board appointment services. This complimentary board referral scheme matches candidates to board appointment opportunities based on their profile, expertise and track record.

ISCA president Teo Ser Luck says the partnership signifies a “pivotal step forward” towards raising awareness of the importance of board diversity and increasing the representation of women on boards. 

“Embracing diverse perspectives fosters enriched discussions and ultimately leads to better board decisions,” adds Teo, who was recently re-elected for a second two-year term at ISCA.

Mildred Tan, co-chair of the CBD, says board directors play a crucial role in guiding their firms towards a sustainable and successful future. “At the heart of CBD’s partnership with ISCA is the shared belief that diverse experiences and skills combine to elevate decision-making and drive innovation. We hope our commitment to empowering the growing pool of directors for the demands of good corporate governance paves the way for a more inclusive and resilient business landscape that benefits all stakeholders.” 

Established in 1963, ISCA is the national accountancy body of Singapore. It administers the Singapore Chartered Accountant Qualification programme and is the designated entity to confer the Chartered Accountant of Singapore designation.

CBD was established by the Ministry of Social and Family Development in 2019. With President Tharman Shanmugaratnam as patron, CBD spearheads efforts to encourage organisations across the private, public and people sectors on their journey of leveraging board diversity for business value. 

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