Shaping Vietnam's corporate future: female board members show business excellence

December 12, 2023 | 00:00
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Pham Viet Anh, chairman of the Board at PVTrans, discussed with VIR's Celine Luu the benefits of female board members for strategic thinking and financial efficiency.

What are the advantages of having female members on the Board of Directors (BoD)?

Shaping Vietnam's corporate future: The crucial contribution of female board members in business excellence
Pham Viet Anh, chairman of the Board at PVTrans

From a practical perspective, my observation and experience suggest that certain skills and experiences required for BoD consultancy are more aligned with the qualities of female leadership than male. For instance, the attribute of caution, a critical criterion for the responsibility of a BoD member, is evidently more effectively executed by women.

Consequently, boards with female participation, as per statistics, show a reduction in corporate governance risks and an enhancement in financial efficiency. Moreover, female leaders, particularly in their 40s and 50s, after stabilising family and personal lives, demonstrate a remarkable surge in contribution, long-term thinking, and development capabilities, outpacing their male counterparts.

This age range is often considered ideal for BoD involvement, making this profession exceedingly suitable for women's career progression.

How do you view the current ratio of female board members in Vietnam compared to other countries?

Many countries, particularly in Northern and Western Europe, have long mandated a minimum of around 30 per cent female participation in the BoDs of listed companies. In 2022, the EU passed a regulation to increase this quota to 40 per cent by 2026. Globally, it's common to see female members in the BoDs of listed companies.

However, as of 2023, in Vietnam, the ratio of companies with at least one female BoD member is approximately 32 per cent, and those with two female members is around 14 per cent among listed enterprises. This indicates that the presence of women in Vietnamese corporate boards is relatively modest compared to other nations.

What mechanisms do you think are necessary to encourage an increase in female board membership, particularly in tech-heavy industries like PVTrans?

Our BoD currently includes seven members, of which two are women. This ratio aligns with PVTrans's long-term direction for BoD structure and our practical resource pool.

We have plans to seek successor resources for the BoD in general and female members in particular through planned sources and leadership training programmes, ensuring a certain proportion of women. Despite being an international transportation business with specific technical requirements, PVTrans has a significant number of female leaders in key roles, especially in areas like finance, capital management, and auditing.

We prioritise encouraging female employees with potential for development. Notably, PVTrans has been ahead in having female CEOs and chairwomen in its subsidiary units within the corporation.

With Japan recently implementing a law requiring listed companies to have about 30 per cent of women on their BoDs from 2030, do you believe Vietnam should introduce legal measures to increase female board participation?

I support this initiative, given its necessity and proven effectiveness in many countries and Vietnam's recent experience. Vietnam currently has a substantial number of female officers/leaders, many of whom are qualified and capable of pursuing a professional BoD member career.

Therefore, we could implement a phased approach. Initially, we should incorporate a minimum female BoD member ratio into Vietnam's corporate governance standards to encourage and guide companies. Subsequently, this could be integrated into legal regulations when conditions allow in terms of quantity and quality of resources.

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