DBS CEO Says China’s Common Prosperity Drive Is ‘A Good Thing’
(Bloomberg) -- China’s latest set of policy moves aimed at improving social equality are coming at the right time, according to DBS Group Holdings Ltd.’s chief executive officer.
“We’ve created massive pools of inequality” globally in the last 15 to 20 years perpetuated by technology, Piyush Gupta said at a virtual event organized by non-profit organization United Women Singapore Saturday. “The focus on common prosperity, how you take care of the bottom of the pyramid, that’s not a bad thing. It’s the right time for that,” he said.
China’s “common prosperity” drive and attack on the “disorderly expansion of capital” have rattled the nation’s stock markets this year, hitting sectors ranging from technology to private education and entertainment. The campaign has raised concerns about Beijing’s commitment to supporting the once-vibrant and innovative private sector and even triggered a rare domestic public policy debate.
“Whether it’s the European green fund, Xi’s common prosperity agenda or our own focus on the social safety net for the bottom 20%, these are good things to do” to achieve long-term sustainable growth, said Gupta, who leads Southeast Asia’s largest lender. He said he expects that the “S” in ESG -- or social equity -- will become a greater focus of government policies and corporate agendas over the next decade.
The Gender Question
To that end, Gupta said applying board diversity quotas and naming and shaming businesses that are less progressive may be necessary to make a bigger push for gender equality at companies in Singapore and across Asia.
The city-state is already pushing to include more women on company boards, targeting 25% representation by 2025 from 18% in the first half of this year, according to the Council for Board Diversity, based on data analyzing the top 100 primary-listed companies on the Singapore bourse.
Meanwhile, Singapore Exchange Ltd.’s regulatory arm has proposed that listed companies set and disclose targets, plans and a timeline for efforts to boost board diversity and governance for financial years starting on or after Jan. 1, 2022.
Despite not being a big supporter of quotas as they can be misused, Gupta said they can be introduced for a short period of time to act as catalysts for change. “Companies put targets for a whole bunch of things. We are now putting targets on carbon emissions. That focuses people’s minds on the problem a lot more.”
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