Malaysian banks top South East Asia in executive gender diversity

Malaysian banks are leading the way in gender diversity with 30 percent of their boards made up of women. That’s according to a new study from the Boston-based research division of MSCI.

Analyst Meggin Thwing Eastman said Malaysia’s higher than usual proportion is a result of the country’s efforts to institute and enforce progressive corporate governance regulations, which require by law that women hold at least 30 percent of board seats in local companies.

Indonesia is in second spot in South East Asia with just over 15 percent, while Thailand takes third place. Meanwhile, women on the boards of Singapore banks comprise 13 percent of the total and the Philippines just 9 percent.

The MSCI study also found that having more women on their board isn't just a token gesture for banks. Gender diversity also shows up on the balance sheet as financial institutions with more women on their boards tend to perform better in categories like return on assets.

The study rated Thailand’s Kasikorn as South East Asia’s single more gender diverse bank, with seven of its 18 board members being women, or almost 40 percent of the total.