The government of Malaysia plans to publish a list of companies that do not have women on their boards. In addition, those companies will not be allowed to bid for government contracts.
The move, which will come into effect from next year, follows a public speech by prime minister Najib Razak in September. Razak said that Malaysian corporations should be aiding and promoting women, especially to the top of the firm.
Asia falls far behind the UK, Europe and the US when it comes to boardroom diversity, and has much less legislation to force a change at the top.
The prime minister jabbed corporate boards as he compared them with the fact that women hold 35% of top management positions in the public sector; he claimed that the private sector should do about the same, if not better.
In Malaysia, women represent just 14% of board members, according to a survey by Deloitte that tracked gender diversity on boards in 44 countries.
Although that number is poor compared with European nations, Malaysia still ranked higher than even the most developed Asian states. In Japan, only 4% of board members are women, and in South Korea 2.5%.
Deloitte’s survey found that Norway led the way, with nearly 42% of board seats held by women in 2016. In the UK, just over 20% of directorships are held by women, and 14% in the US.