Gender diversity important for business success

The amount of evidence supporting the pursuit of gender equality can seem overwhelming, but, as a new study from global executive search firm Korn Ferry shows, progress is slow.

Written in conjunction with the National University of Singapore Business School, the report showed that Singapore sits alongside South Korea and Japan as one of the most masculine business cultures in the region.

Close to 50 per cent of companies surveyed here have no women on the board.

In Singapore, women held 7.7 per cent of board seats in 2014, an increase of just 0.3 percentage points from 2013.

Across the Asia-Pacific, women are generally devalued and dismissed, unable to access leadership, provide insight or contribute.

This is wasted potential.

The report said that in terms of boardroom diversity, "it would require another decade of growth at the current pace" for the region as a whole to reach parity with global economies such as the European Union and the United States.

Much research shows that greater gender equality leads to better corporate performance.

This is compelling; transformational outcomes lie before us.

Singapore has a strong base of female talent but is failing to use it.

What is stopping us?

In my time with executives, I find a common theme on issues of diversity: will, or the lack of it.

Too often, gender equality can seem like a zero-sum game, where men are somehow losing.

This is not true - when women succeed, we all benefit.

Gender equality in our workplaces cannot be ignored, it must be pursued.

Opportunities to act sit right in front of us.

We overlook them to our own detriment.

Conrad Liveris

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Gender diversity important for business success'. Print Edition | Subscribe