Smartkarma Originals

Asian Governance: Diversity & Incentives Through the Cultural Lens

By August 30, 2020 No Comments

In this Smartkarma Original, we seek to study how diversity and incentives influence stock performance and profitability. We tallied diversity and incentive data related to the board of directors, management, and employees across major economies in Asia and picked top 10 companies of each country in terms of market capitalization. We chose to exclude major companies listed in exchanges of other economies such as Tencent and Alibaba to limit our sample size.

Then we devised diversity and incentive scores to assign to those companies and compare those scores against a 5-year trend of their return on shareholders’ equity (ROE) ratios and 1-year stock performance from 1-July-19 to 30-June-20 over its corresponding exchange indices.

The report covers diversity vs. incentives in Asia, diversity score vs. 1-year stock performance and ROE trend, incentives vs. 1-year stock performance and ROE trend, diversity + incentives scores vs. 1-year stock performance and ROE trend, companies with top and bottom diversity + incentive scores, countries with top and bottom average diversity + incentive scores, and incentive score vs. staffing cost trend. 

The results show that companies with high diversity scores do perform well. A high diversity score also has a positive impact on the ROE trend, based on our regression analysis at 95% confidence level. We found that employee incentives are not significant as staff diversity but they can still have an influence on company performances at a lower 90% confidence level.

We note that this study is at the preliminary stage and stock performance is a function of many factors, not only the diversity scores that we concluded. Needless to say, our diversity and incentive scores also reflect the level of disclosures by selected companies, not necessarily the actual practice within each company. Our diversity and incentive scores are also not a credit rating or ranking with peers and, hence, do not reflect default probability of selected companies.

We caution that in Asia, many diversity trends in the West may not apply. The fact that many Asian business communities may remain less sensitive to equal opportunities for females, disabled persons, or LGBTQ communities could make returns of Asian companies less correlated to diversity than in the West. Likewise, additional incentives in some countries in Asia may not be necessary as employees’ strong performance (i.e. in Japan) is a norm, according to the prevalent work culture.

Bondcritic is developing a scoring model, which includes environment, social development, and corporate governance; the last of which cover diversity and incentives. This report is the first of the series to uncover shenanigans in the Asian corporate sector.

Bondcritic • Independent Asian Credit Research • (Opens in a new window) ⧉

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