Seven Asean firms join Bloomberg’s 2021 gender equality index
Singapore’s DBS leads region as one of top global quartile members
28 Jan 2021 | The Asset

Bloomberg has announced that seven new companies domiciled in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries – Genting Singapore, Energy Absolute, Home Product Center, Digi Com, DMCI Holdings, Semirara Mining and Power and PT Mitra Keluarga, the first from Indonesia, have joined its 2021 gender equality index (GEI).

“As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, we’ve seen companies put increased emphasis on the ‘S’ in [environmental, social and governance] ESG,” says Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg. “The companies included in this year’s GEI are committed to providing an inclusive work environment, supporting work-life balance and flexible work arrangements to retain a talented workforce, and creating a competitive advantage in this changing business environment.” 

DBS Group Holdings leads the Asean region as it is one of the GEI members in the index to be in the top global quartile this year. The bank has made the index for the last four years. “To be in the GEI’s top global quartile and recognized as best in class for gender equality is an important achievement for us,” states DBS’ CEO Piyush Gupta. “It attests to our efforts in building a respectful and inclusive workplace that embraces gender, generational and cultural diversity. At DBS, women comprise 50% of our workforce, 40% of our senior management, and run our largest businesses and key functions across the bank.”

Despite raising the threshold for inclusion in the 2021 index, a record number of companies disclosed their data, and the quality of disclosure continues to improve. This year, GEI companies had a 94% disclosure score on average. While the average disclosure score was high, the average data excellence score was 55%, making it evident there is still work that needs to be done. The data excellence score is broken down into scores across five pillars: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, sexual harassment policies, and pro-women brand.

Some key findings from companies in the 2021 GEI are:

· Flexible work environments: 87% of companies provide flexible working hours and 85% offer flexible working locations, a benefit that has become more important amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

· Closing the gap: On average, GEI members’ boards comprise 29% women and 61% have a chief diversity officer or an executive with primary responsibility for diversity and inclusion. The companies have an average of 39% of women in revenue-producing roles and more than half (52%) require a gender diverse slate of candidates for management positions.

· Culture of inclusion: On average, index member companies are hiring more women than they are losing, 69% of which have a strategy for recruiting women, and 59% conduct a global gender-based compensation review. Additionally, on average, 85% of employees returning after parental leave remain with their company, with 65% of companies offering on-site lactation rooms, and 46% providing childcare subsidies or other financial support.

· Inclusion beyond the workplace: More than half (60%) sponsor financial education programmes for women, and 64% sponsor programmes dedicated to educating women in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

"The average disclosure score of the 15 companies in Asean is high, outperforming the average disclosure score of the index as a whole,” points out Patricia Torres, global head of Bloomberg Sustainable Finance Solutions. “Disclosure is an important component in the GEI as it is the first step towards accountability…. GEI data gives investors a comprehensive view of how practices that support gender equality can drive increased employee engagement and productivity. This, in turn, brings higher market value to companies and creates positive change.”

The GEI recognizes publicly listed companies that brings transparency to gender-related practices and policies, increasing the breadth of ESG data available to investors. This year, the GEI comprised 380 companies across 44 countries and regions, and 11 sectors. Firms on the 2021 index have a combined market capitalisation of US$14 trillion, up from US$12 trillion last year.

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