Not nurturing half of your talent pool is just plain silly.
Ask any senior executive and they will tell you it is always better to have all the options available when it comes to hiring, especially for top leadership positions. But a large number of companies tend to miss out on a big chunk of the pool: Women.
We need to truly understand why there are fewer women at the top and to put in place a comprehensive suite of concrete actions to rectify this.
It is a well-known fact that female representation at the board level is low across Asia. According to latest data from Diversity Action Committee, the percentage of women holding positions on company boards is 13 percent in China, 11 percent in Hong Kong and 9 percent in Singapore.
It's not that companies aren't hiring women, but the ratio tends to decrease as the seniority level rises. Just take this example: The rates for female representation in senior management positions are 40 percent in China, 30 percent for Hong Kong, 27 percent for Singapore – much higher than what we see at the board level.
Though it is hard to determine the numbers for junior and entry-level staff, it is safe to assume that women representation at those levels is much higher again. Even in the 'new tech' companies, the female representation rate goes down drastically as we go up the seniority ranks.
Some women take time out to care children or aged parents and then find it difficult to get back on the fast track. Others find the working environment not conductive and they leave. And there will be women who fall prey to bias (conscious or otherwise) and end up falling behind. Examples could include those who do (a lot of) the real work and miss the networking activities or those that set the bar too high for themselves and never get encouraged to ask for the promotion.
Most of the recent discussion and debate about gender diversity has focused on the "feel-good" factors. The arguments have centered on why ensuring gender equality is the right thing to do.
And while those are credible reasons, companies should look at this from a business perspective as well.