95% of UAE female leaders say more to be done about gender diversity at the top


Despite clear progress and strong support from the government, 95 percent of female business leaders surveyed in the UAE indicate that there is more to be done to build gender diversity in corporate boards and management positions, said KPMG.

Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of those polled in the UAE and 43 percent globally indicated that targets or quotas may be an effective approach to bringing more women into top roles.

Also, 61 percent believe that recent measures taken by their company have had a positive impact, according to the professional services firm’s “UAE Female Leaders Outlook”,

The news was more positive regarding the gender pay gap in the UAE.

In 2020, six out of ten UAE-based female leaders, against 46 percent globally, confirmed that their company is transparent regarding equal pay, compared with only 26 percent in 2019.

A report from the World Bank, “Women, Business and the Law”, said the UAE had been ranked top in the Middle East and North Africa region after 20 legislative reforms designed to improve women’s economic participation.

The report said the country achieved a score of 82.5 out of 100 in 2021, compared with 56 in 2020, and 29 in 2019.

The Government of Dubai’s Media Office said the UAE amended more than 20 legal provisions related to employee benefits, such as equal pay for equal value, parental leave, prohibition on firing pregnant women and equal access to credit.

All boards

There have been efforts to bring more women into senior positions, including on to boards, such as the commitment by oil company ADNOC, who pledged that women would be represented in all boards for each company in the group by the end of 2022.

The company’s Corporate Governance Report 2020, published on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), revealed none have been appointed so far, but pledged to seek out greater representation of women when vacancies arise, “while considering all qualified candidates regardless of gender”.

KPMG’s report also showed that the UAE’s women leaders are optimistic about business recovery post-COVID, with nearly 73 percent expecting their organisation to recover within two years.

At the same time, 95 percent are confident that digital economy and e-commerce companies will emerge winners from the current crisis.

KPMG said 67 percent of UAE women leaders believe their company has potential to grow in the next three years, and 55 percent found their pre-COVID-19 business models enabled the shift to, or focus on, digital.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Cleofe Maceda)


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