Launch of the Board Readiness Programme by the Singapore Institute of Directors in collaboration with the Singapore Computer Society – Women In Tech

This speech was delivered by Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive, IMDA, at the launch of the Board Readiness Programme by the Singapore Institute of Directors in collaboration with the Singapore Computer Society – Women In Tech.


Good afternoon.

It is my absolute pleasure to be here today at the launch of this Board Readiness Programme.

Having women on boards is not just an equality issue – it just makes good business sense.

Data shows it. McKinsey’s report states “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Numerous other studies have found that there is a direct correlation between a company’s higher profitability and better financial performance with its board diversity.

Intuition tells us. There are numerous female board members who have made significant impact, and more importantly, inspiring others along the way:

  1. Ginni Rometty served as the Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM from 2012-2020. She was the first woman to lead IBM. In that time, she played a key role in IBM’s transformation to focus on emerging technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and analytics.
  2. Indra Nooyi served as the CEO and Chairperson of Pepsico. During her tenure, she led Pepsico through significant growth and diversification, emphasizing healthier products and sustainability initiatives. Her strategic leadership and commitment to corporate responsibility have earned her widespread recognition.

So today, we come together with a shared purpose. In Singapore, a record number of Singapore's new director roles were filled by women after new diversity rules were applied last year – 36% of board appointments went to women in 2022.

Is this enough though? It clearly isn’t. We can do more, we need to do more.

Thus this programme was born. IMDA is proud to be supporting this programme, that we hope will serve as an important resource for women aspiring to board positions, increasing gender diversity and enhancing most importantly, digital literacy on boards. Given the rapidly evolving tech landscape and the need for digital transformation across all companies and industries, there is a growing demand for skilled directors who can navigate its complexities.

Let me share a little about the criticality of understanding Digital Tech, and the role that boards play. IMDA has developed the Digital Acceleration Index, or the DAI, that enables companies to understand their state of digitalisation across multiple aspects of the business. Some data shows that the DAI of some companies is below par – and that most companies from our survey have indicated that they want to build their competencies and embed digital capabilities into all of their business functions. This can only be done by board giving that strategic leadership for digital transformation. This becomes increasingly important as tech continues to shift at even faster rates. Singapore companies cannot afford to be left behind.

To all the participants of this programme, you have already achieved great things in your respective fields and companies, and it is timely to consider the next level of leadership. Have confidence, embrace the challenges. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Together, we can create a more vibrant, innovative, and equitable future for all.

Wanted to just end with the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ginsburg, who was known for fiercely advocating for gender equality and women's rights.

She said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

I hope this programme serves as a guiding light for all the participants, and as a catalyst for change, inspiration, and empowerment.


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