TAK­ING THE TOUGH ROUTE TO THE TOP

TOUGH TAK­ING THE ROUTE TO THE TOP

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE - BY SASA ZUZMAHOWSKY

Gulf coun­tries have un­doubt­edly made sig­nif­i­cant strides for­ward in re­cent years when it comes to in­creas­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion and the work­force. But still, nu­mer­ous re­ports show that the num­ber of women ad­vanc­ing to se­nior ex­ec­u­tive and board lev­els within or­gan­i­sa­tions in the GCC re­mains low. As a mat­ter of fact, in some sec­tors, they are nearly in­vis­i­ble.

GULF COUN­TRIES HAVE UN­DOUBT­EDLY MADE SIG­NIF­I­CANT STRIDES FOR­WARD IN RE­CENT YEARS WHEN IT COMES TO IN­CREAS­ING THE PAR­TIC­I­PA­TION OF WOMEN IN TER­TIARY ED­U­CA­TION AND THE WORK­FORCE. BUT STILL, NU­MER­OUS RE­PORTS SHOW THAT THE NUM­BER OF WOMEN AD­VANC­ING TO SE­NIOR EX­EC­U­TIVE AND BOARD LEV­ELS WITHIN OR­GAN­I­SA­TIONS IN THE GCC RE­MAINS LOW. AS A MAT­TER OF FACT, IN SOME SEC­TORS, THEY ARE NEARLY IN­VIS­I­BLE.

More

than a hun­dred years ago, Kishida Toshiko, a writer, ac­tivist, and one of the first women to speak pub­licly about women's rights in semi-feu­dal Ja­pan, gave a fa­mous speech to the crowd where she said, “If it is true that men are bet­ter than women be­cause they are stronger, why aren't our sumo wrestlers in the gov­ern­ment?” Sev­eral thou­sand kilo­me­tres to the east, you can't make the same ar­gu­ment in the GCC, where the sheikhs in­deed run the gov­ern­ment. And all busi­nesses. Here, the gen­der in­equal­i­ties re­lated to em­ploy­ment and pro­mo­tion of women are even more am­pli­fied in com­par­i­son with the rest of the world.

Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­a­tion of Char­tered Cer­ti­fied Ac­coun­tants' re­port from Jan­uary, women rep­re­sent only 2% of board po­si­tions in the GCC. Women ac­count for only 17% of all ex­ec­u­tive roles in the UAE and 7% in Qatar. Across the re­gion only 13% of women are CEOs ver­sus a 21% share in the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, with a low of 7% rep­re­sent­ing pres­i­dents of the board. The A.T. Kear­ney re­port, ‘Power Women in Ara­bia' from 2016, re­veals even more shock­ing

re­sults – shares of board seats held by fe­males in the GCC coun­tries in the same year ranged from 0.01% in Saudi Ara­bia to 1.7% in Kuwait. There are nu­mer­ous such re­search stud­ies which for­tify the case for change in pro­mot­ing the path­way of women into se­nior de­ci­sion-mak­ing roles, but the pace of change still seems to be slow.

Hard tran­si­tion from school to work

De­spite an en­cour­ag­ing up­trend in ed­u­ca­tion, re­search

has shown that there is a sig­nif­i­cant dis­con­nect in terms of ed­u­ca­tional suc­cess and reach­ing se­nior man­age­ment roles in the GCC. One of the most cru­cial is­sues Gulf women are fac­ing is their tran­si­tion from school to work. This has been known as the “leaky pipeline”, with ed­u­cated fe­male job­seek­ers strug­gling to find ac­cept­able em­ploy­ment and many fe­male grad­u­ates be­com­ing in­ac­tive in the labour mar­ket.

For ex­am­ple, women in Saudi Ara­bia ac­count for nearly 60% of univer­sity grad­u­ates, but less than 20% of Saudi women en­ter the work­force af­ter grad­u­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to Booz & Com­pany. In Qatar, 54% of univer­sity-age women are en­rolled in uni­ver­si­ties com­pared to only 28% of their male coun­ter­parts, ac­cord­ing to the Qatar Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy.

This brings us to the para­dox, so con­spic­u­ous for the GCC in par­tic­u­lar, be­tween achieve­ments in ed­u­ca­tion and their chal­lenges in em­ploy­ment. This skewed re­la­tion­ship raises a sim­ple ques­tion: how is it pos­si­ble that women have been able to ac­cess ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and were even more ed­u­cated than men but em­ploy­ment and pro­mo­tion to se­nior po­si­tions, par­tic­u­larly in the pri­vate sec­tor, seems to be lim­ited?

An im­por­tant fac­tor, which has of­ten been ne­glected, is a misalignment be­tween women's fields of study and the re­quire­ments of the mar­ket and spe­cific in­dus­tries, con­tribut­ing to the low par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in the work­force and low fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in spe­cific in­dus­tries. Ada Per­niceni, part­ner at A.T. Kear­ney Mid­dle East, notes, “For ex­am­ple, in the en­ergy sec­tor women rep­re­sent only 19% of the work­force world­wide. Lack of women with tech­ni­cal de­grees (in STEM) is one of the pri­mary fac­tors con­tribut­ing to this, a sit­u­a­tion which may worsen as dig­i­ti­za­tion and au­to­ma­tion al­ter the job mar­ket in the com­ing years.” On a pos­i­tive note, she added, Qatar, with 17% of fe­male grad­u­ates spe­cial­iz­ing in STEM, slightly out­per­forms the 16% global av­er­age. Gov­ern­ments glob­ally are test­ing, with var­i­ous de­grees of suc­cess, ed­u­ca­tion re­forms and pri­vate sec­tor in­cen­tives to raise these num­bers.

AN IM­POR­TANT FAC­TOR, WHICH HAS OF­TEN BEEN NE­GLECTED, IS A MISALIGNMENT BE­TWEEN WOMEN’S FIELDS OF STUDY AND THE RE­QUIRE­MENTS OF THE MAR­KET AND SPE­CIFIC IN­DUS­TRIES, CON­TRIBUT­ING TO THE LOW PAR­TIC­I­PA­TION OF WOMEN IN THE WORK­FORCE AND LOW FE­MALE PAR­TIC­I­PA­TION IN SPE­CIFIC IN­DUS­TRIES.

“WHILE STATE POLI­CIES FORM ONE PART OF THE SO­LU­TION, IN­DI­VID­UAL COM­PA­NIES CAN PLAY AN EQUALLY IM­POR­TANT ROLE IN BUILD­ING A SUP­PORT­IVE EN­VI­RON­MENT FOR WOMEN.” CARLA KOFFEL Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Pearl Ini­tia­tive

Ob­sta­cles

When you are a woman, noth­ing comes easy in busi­ness. There is no sin­gle fac­tor that ex­plains this lower par­tic­i­pa­tion; it is, in­stead, a com­bi­na­tion of mul­ti­ple el­e­ments. Ac­cord­ing to Pearl Ini­tia­tive's 2015 re­port the sin­gle most im­por­tant fac­tor hold­ing women back is the po­ten­tial im­pact of their ca­reer on fam­ily life. It is the fam­ily – both pos­i­tively and neg­a­tively – that de­ter­mines the de­gree of a woman's pro­fes­sional suc­cess. Re­ports re­veal that fam­ily may be the most valu­able sup­port a woman can rely upon, but it can also be the most sig­nif­i­cant im­ped­i­ment to her suc­cess. The "fam­ily fac­tor" is also markedly more sig­nif­i­cant for GCC na­tional women, com­pared to non- GCC na­tion­als (77% against 67% cit­ing fam­ily as im­por­tant), which is no doubt a re­flec­tion of the strong fam­ily cul­ture in the re­gion, and the tra­di­tional cul­tural norms that are still so im­por­tant here.

Carla Koffel, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor at Pearl Ini­tia­tive, told Qatar To­day that in 2015 Pearl Ini­tia­tive's re­port on ‘Women Ca­reers in the GCC,' found that the num­bers of women en­rolling in univer­sity cour­ses are ei­ther the same or even higher than men, but their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the work­force drops off sharply, es­pe­cially around mid-ca­reer (the point when many women leave to have their first child). Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the prob­lem is that so few re­turn there­after, which is why they make up only 38% of

the work­force in the GCC, and 21% in the Mid­dle East and North Africa re­gion as a whole. “This pat­tern is com­mon in other re­gions; how­ever, in the GCC rel­a­tively fewer women make it to se­nior po­si­tions be­cause they opt out of their ca­reers be­fore they make it that far,” she added.

There­fore, bal­anc­ing work and fam­ily life, which is a chal­lenge for women across the world, is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult in the GCC, Koffel noted. How­ever, Qatar as well as Kuwait do show slightly more bal­anced fig­ures in this re­spect, where women con­sti­tute 35% of the work­force ac­cord­ing to the 2014 Global Gen­der Gap Re­port. In­deed, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent data from the Global Gen­der Gap Re­port from 2016, Qatar has im­proved, hold­ing 119th po­si­tion glob­ally and out­pac­ing other coun­tries in the re­gion, while Saudi Ara­bia falls far be­hind.

Be­sides fam­ily-re­lated fac­tors, Per­niceni told us that her com­pany's study from 2016 finds that 44% of re­spon­dents iden­ti­fied cul­tural bar­ri­ers and lack of sup­port as the pri­mary rea­sons for low fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in the work­force as well as the op­por­tu­ni­ties for women's pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment. Ac­cord­ing to Karen Young's re­cent study ‘ Women's labour force par­tic­i­pa­tion across the GCC', “a value sys­tem that pri­or­i­tizes women's pro­tec­tion and sep­a­ra­tion from both men and im­moral­ity gives the state the au­thor­ity to de­cide how best to guard women, and how best to cre­ate safe spa­ces where they can work, learn, and so­cial­ize. Women's par­tic­i­pa­tion in the labour force is more lim­ited by so­cial and cul­tural bar­ri­ers, and even ge­o­graphic mo­bil­ity, as the fam­ily (and prox­im­ity to home) cen­tres spa­tially in the pro­tected sphere of women's lives, even in states where women's le­gal lim­i­ta­tions to en­ter the work­force are less re­stric­tive.”

How­ever, the im­pact of tra­di­tion varies across GCC coun­tries. For ex­am­ple, A.T. Kear­ney in­ter­views with fe­male pro­fes­sion­als in the UAE sug­gested that fam­i­lies and so­ci­ety are quite sup­port­ive, while the lead­er­ship in the work­place rep­re­sents the pri­mary lim­it­ing fac­tor to their ca­reer pro­gres­sion. “On the other hand, in other coun­tries in the re­gion, deeply in­grained so­cial struc­tures and pro­cesses cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where lim­i­ta­tions on fe­male ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties are more for­mal­ized. The re­sponses re­quired vary as a re­sult of this, with some coun­tries re­quir­ing greater ef­forts on be­half of the gov­ern­ment and civil so­ci­ety to­wards pub­lic aware­ness, and oth­ers need­ing ac­tual struc­tural re­form by the gov­ern­ment. From a gov­ern­ment per­spec­tive, the in­cen­tive for mak­ing such changes is high, due to the proven link be­tween greater fe­male labour force par­tic­i­pa­tion and an in­crease in GDP,” says Per­niceni.

Another bar­rier high­lighted by Koffel is the glass ceil­ing, which pre­vents women from mov­ing up the cor­po­rate lad­der. This is a uni­ver­sal chal­lenge that women ex­pe­ri­ence, where they are de­nied op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop their ca­reers and be pro­moted on the ba­sis of gen­der. It is more than ev­i­dent that the gen­der gap in en­gage­ment emerges as em­ploy­ees be­come more se­nior. How­ever, it is good to see that gov­ern­ments in the GCC are tak­ing the lead in chang­ing this and set­ting an ex­am­ple for the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors.

Are HR pro­grammes and state poli­cies enough?

The GCC gov­ern­ments have taken a num­ber of steps to im­prove this sit­u­a­tion, through HR pro­grammes and poli­cies and royal de­crees. These states have been un­der pres­sure to na­tion­alise their work­force by stim­u­lat­ing the pri­vate sec­tor, which has been re­ly­ing on for­eign labour. Pri­vate-sec­tor com­pa­nies in the Gulf have an op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress na­tion­al­iza­tion im­per­a­tives and lo­cal un­em­ploy­ment by at­tract­ing more na­tional women into their work­force. But they have been only partly suc­cess­ful. Ini­tia­tives to im­prove fe­male em­ploy­ment across the GCC are not fully re­flected in Qatari­sa­tion strate­gies, says Wil­liam Scott-Jack­son, Chair­man of Oxford Strate­gic Con­sult­ing. Ac­cord­ing to their new survey re­port, ‘Strate­gic Qatari­sa­tion: Fo­cus­ing on Mean­ing­ful Em­ploy­ment', more than a third of or­gan­i­sa­tions in Qatar (36%) ei­ther never or some­times “ac­tively pro­mote fe­male na­tion­als” as part of their Qatari­sa­tion strat­egy. Qatari women rep­re­sent about half of the na­tional work­force with ap­prox­i­mately 91,000 work­ing-age fe­male na­tion­als, but Qatari­sa­tion strate­gies do not al­ways en­gage this vi­tal de­mo­graphic seg­ment.

“A.T. KEAR­NEY RE­SEARCH IDEN­TI­FIED QUAL­ITY IN­FRAS­TRUC­TURE FOR CHILD­CARE, COM­PRE­HEN­SIVE MA­TER­NITY BEN­E­FITS, AND FLEX­I­BLE WORK OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES AS CRIT­I­CAL TO AT­TRACT AND RE­TAIN FE­MALE TAL­ENT.” ADA PER­NICENI Part­ner A.T. Kear­ney

He added that while the gov­ern­ment ex­cels in pro­mot­ing women through Qatari­sa­tion pro­grammes, most or­gan­i­sa­tions can im­prove in this crit­i­cal area. When sur­veyed about their Qatari­sa­tion strate­gies, 11% of se­nior busi­ness lead­ers in Qatar stated that they never pro­moted fe­male na­tion­als in their or­gan­i­sa­tions. A fur­ther 25% of or­gan­i­sa­tions stated that they only some­times pro­mote fe­male na­tion­als. Smaller or­gan­i­sa­tions (250499 em­ploy­ees) were sig­nif­i­cantly less likely than larger or­gan­i­sa­tions (500+ em­ploy­ees) to ac­tively pro­mote fe­male na­tion­als. As noted, gov­ern­ment and semi-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions were sig­nif­i­cantly more likely than pri­vate sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions to al­ways ac­tively pro­mote fe­male na­tion­als (79% vs. 25%).

Ac­cord­ing to Pearl Ini­tia­tive's re­port on ‘ Women's Ca­reers in the GCC: Four Good Prac­tice Case Stud­ies', im­ple­ment­ing sup­port­ive poli­cies in the work­place is a key driver lead­ing to more women in se­nior po­si­tions. Ac­cord­ing to Koffel, “While state poli­cies form one part of the so­lu­tion, in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies can play an equally im­por­tant role in build­ing a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment for women. These in­clude prac­ti­cal steps such as flex­i­ble work­ing hours and pro­vi­sions for crèches.”

“In our case study re­port, we found that there is a lot of pos­i­tive work be­ing done by com­pa­nies in the re­gion to over­come cul­tural stereo­types. Petroleum De­vel­op­ment

Oman (PDO), which is one of the com­pa­nies fea­tured in our re­port, de­cided to put more fo­cus on gen­der di­ver­sity to over­come the per­cep­tion that women should work in care­giv­ing roles rather than in tech­ni­cal ca­reers. In fact, it even de­vel­oped a three-year field-based de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme for women to gain ex­pe­ri­ence while work­ing on re­mote oil fields. Many of the women who com­pleted this pro­gramme have con­tin­ued their ca­reers as tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions pro­fes­sion­als at PDO's head­quar­ters. To­day four out of 15 di­rec­tors on PDO's se­nior lead­er­ship team are women,” she con­tin­ued.

Com­pa­nies can there­fore ad­dress the chal­lenge of hir­ing more women in a re­gion where it is not al­ways con­sid­ered "nor­mal" for women to work. In fact, both ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies need to take a sys­tem­atic ap­proach to iden­ti­fy­ing and elim­i­nat­ing these ex­ist­ing chal­lenges.

Flex­i­bil­ity key to suc­cess­ful in­clu­sion

But in or­der to gain and re­tain well-ed­u­cated fe­male tal­ent, or­gan­i­sa­tions have to adapt to their fe­male em­ploy­ees. Oxford Strate­gic Con­sult­ing re­search sug­gests that al­ter­na­tives to 9 to 5 at the of­fice, such as work­ing from home, part-time hours, con­tract­ing, job shar­ing, flex­i­days and hot de­sk­ing, could be at least an in­terim so­lu­tion. Ac­cord­ing to an ear­lier survey by Pearl Ini­tia­tive, women con­sider flex­i­ble work­ing hours as the most im­por­tant fac­tor that al­lows them to meet the com­pet­ing pres­sures of work and fam­ily. In ad­di­tion, many sug­gest that ma­ter­nity leave and child­care op­tions may be one of the ways to nar­row the gen­der gap, such as in­tro­duc­ing child­care op­tions, ma­ter­nity leave, more flex­i­ble work­ing hours and other ben­e­fits that many en­joy in the work else­where.

Women per­form a sig­nif­i­cantly larger por­tion of “un­paid work” – child­care, house­hold man­age­ment – than their male coun­ter­parts. This is one of the key chal­lenges to fe­male tal­ent at­trac­tion, re­ten­tion and ca­reer pro­gres­sion, Per­niceni added. “A.T. Kear­ney re­search iden­ti­fied qual­ity in­fras­truc­ture for child­care, com­pre­hen­sive ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits, and flex­i­ble work op­por­tu­ni­ties as crit­i­cal to at­tract and re­tain fe­male tal­ent. In this re­gard, GCC coun­tries have made sig­nif­i­cant progress. A prime ex­am­ple of this is Qatar's 60-day ma­ter­nity leave.”

Mean­while, Koffel noted, it is also im­por­tant to adapt these so­lu­tions to spe­cific so­cial and cul­tural cir­cum­stances. For ex­am­ple, in Saudi Ara­bia, com­pa­nies are re­quired to com­ply with gen­der seg­re­ga­tion rules. “HR departments there­fore need to fo­cus on un­der­stand­ing and ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges that work­ing in seg­re­gated work­places presents. These chal­lenges may con­cern the of­fice lay­out, com­mu­ni­ca­tions or more prac­ti­cal is­sues such as trans­porta­tion to and from meet­ings.”

Mean­while, em­ploy­ing more Qatari women re­quires ef­fec­tive tal­ent pipe­lines, said Wil­liam Scott-Jack­son. For ex­am­ple, 47% of com­pa­nies rarely un­der­took ac­tiv­i­ties to iden­tify po­ten­tial tal­ent early, while 50% rarely of­fered ca­reers ad­vice to na­tion­als at schools and col­leges. He noted that ef­fec­tive fe­male tal­ent pipe­lines re­quire stronger links with ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions as well as more

“QATARI WOMEN REP­RE­SENT ABOUT HALF OF THE NA­TIONAL WORK­FORCE WITH AP­PROX­I­MATELY 91,000 WORK­ING-AGE FE­MALE NA­TION­ALS, BUT QATARI­SA­TION STRATE­GIES DO NOT AL­WAYS EN­GAGE THIS VI­TAL DE­MO­GRAPHIC SEG­MENT.” WIL­LIAM SCOTT-JACK­SON Chair­man Oxford Strate­gic Con­sult­ing

prag­matic tech­niques, such as tal­ent spot­ting, am­bas­sador pro­grammes and in­ter­nal re­fer­rals. The fo­cus on fe­male tal­ent should not only tar­get top-level tal­ent but also “se­cond” and “third level” Qataris, those who should be trained to be­come lead­ers of the fu­ture. The most prac­ti­cally minded com­pa­nies should build ef­fec­tive tal­ent pipe­lines by reach­ing out to fe­male na­tion­als of­ten and early in ad­di­tion to en­sur­ing am­ple de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for new en­trants to the work­force or those who re-join af­ter ma­ter­nity leave or as a se­cond wave in their ca­reers.

But all this is eas­ier said than done. “Aus­ter­ity mea­sures im­ple­mented across the GCC could hin­der faster in­crease in fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in the work­force and ca­reer pro­gres­sion,” Per­niceni said, but added that the aus­ter­ity mea­sures are likely to be coun­ter­bal­anced by the strong com­mit­ment to en­hanced gen­der equality. “In fact, gen­der equality rep­re­sents a na­tional pri­or­ity for the GCC coun­tries and it is part of the na­tional vi­sions and plans of nearly all of them.”

Quo­tas dilemma

Fi­nally, we could of­ten hear that the in­tro­duc­tion of gen­der quo­tas in the pub­lic/pri­vate sec­tor and for boards and se­nior man­age­ment could be the fastest so­lu­tion to prob­lems ad­dressed. Whether to in­tro­duce quo­tas is an is­sue that is de­bated around the world. Najat Benchiba-Savenius, Head of So­cial and Eco­nomic Re­search at Oxford Strate­gic Con­sult­ing, in her pa­per ‘ Woman in the board room', finds that coun­tries that have in­tro­duced manda­tory quota sys­tems to in­crease the num­ber of women on cor­po­rate boards have found it suc­cess­ful. Nor­way, for ex­am­ple, is lead­ing the way in man­dat­ing that 40% of its board seats must be filled by women. Fin­land is not far be­hind with 30%, and with France given un­til 2017 to ful­fil its quota, it is cur­rently es­ti­mated there are ap­prox­i­mately 30% of women in French board­rooms. The UK has opted out of the quota sys­tem but has set its tar­get firmly on a 25% fe­male board rep­re­sen­ta­tion as of last year.

So, gen­der quo­tas are a pop­u­lar so­lu­tion to the com­plex chal­lenge of gen­der equality, demon­strat­ing var­ied lev­els of suc­cess. But Per­niceni ex­plains that un­in­tended con­se­quences of such poli­cies are of­ten un­der-ex­am­ined, and can have neg­a­tive con­se­quences even where pos­i­tive progress is made. A.T. Kear­ney em­pha­sizes the value of us­ing pos­i­tive poli­cies such as vol­un­tary com­pany tar­gets and pub­lic re­port­ing of suc­cesses, and de-em­pha­siz­ing obli­ga­tions and sanc­tions in ad­dress­ing the gen­der equality chal­lenge. Ad­di­tion­ally, A.T. Kear­ney be­lieves that a co­or­di­nated ap­proach car­ried out through col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the gov­ern­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor and opin­ion in­flu­encers is the only likely means of achiev­ing sus­tained progress.

“In our re­cent study on achiev­ing gen­der par­ity in the en­ergy in­dus­try in the GCC we high­lighted that the de­bate on quo­tas is still open: more than 55% of survey re­spon­dents be­lieve gen­der tar­gets should be set for the board and se­nior lead­er­ship po­si­tions while only 25% be­lieve quo­tas should be en­forced,” she added.

How­ever, num­bers are only part of the is­sue. The real

“A CRIT­I­CAL IM­PASSE IS THE FACT THAT WOMEN ARE NOT ‘MADE’ MID­DLE MAN­AGERS EARLY ENOUGH AND THEN ARE NOT ‘TRAINED’ TO BE­COME LEAD­ERS IN TIME. THERE IS NO MEN­TION OF MEN NOT BE­ING ‘BOARD-READY’ AND SO THESE EM­BLEM­ATIC PHRASES ARE GAIN­ING MYTH­I­CAL STA­TUS..” DR NAJAT BENCHIBA-SAVENIUS Head of So­cial and Eco­nomic Re­search Oxford Strate­gic Con­sult­ing

ben­e­fits of women on the board come from their ca­pa­ble, in­tel­li­gent con­tri­bu­tions, which are best achieved through pro­mo­tion on the ba­sis of gen­der-ag­nos­tic merit. Benchiba-Savenius said in her pa­per that at­tain­ing board-ready sta­tus early on is es­sen­tial. “A crit­i­cal im­passe is the fact that women are not ‘made' mid­dle man­agers early enough and then are not ‘trained' to be­come lead­ers in time. The fact re­mains that women are un­der-rep­re­sented in most tiers of their de­vel­op­ing ca­reers and it is to the detri­ment to cor­po­ra­tions and or­gan­i­sa­tions alike. There is no men­tion of men not be­ing ‘board-ready' and so these em­blem­atic phrases are gain­ing myth­i­cal sta­tus. The same can be said for the lack of fe­male pres­ence in the cov­eted C-suite roles whereby there is a huge gulf of tal­ent and a lack of di­ver­sity across eth­nic­ity and gen­der,” she con­tin­ued.

Af­ter all, the most im­por­tant thing is to cre­ate a cor­po­rate cul­ture that is in­clu­sive and sup­port­ive rather than dis­crim­i­na­tory, Koffel noted. Cre­at­ing this en­vi­ron­ment is crit­i­cal as it en­ables per­sonal growth and al­lows em­ploy­ees to fo­cus on their work per­for­mance and take on new chal­lenges. Ul­ti­mately, there is no uni­ver­sal model for im­ple­ment­ing gen­der par­ity. “No two com­pa­nies are the same and com­pa­nies and their se­nior man­age­ment teams there­fore must work to iden­tify the unique chal­lenges that ap­ply to them and then take nec­es­sary steps, and adapt best prac­tices, to ad­dress them,” she con­cluded

Ha­mad Bin Khal­ifa Univer­sity's Col­lege of Law and Pub­lic Pol­icy hosted a col­lo­quium ti­tled 'Women in Lead­er­ship in Qatar' on Fe­bru­ary 15 th , bring­ing to­gether a num­ber of dis­tin­guished speak­ers from across Qatar Foun­da­tion. The dis­cus­sion ex­plored ways to en­sure the re­moval of bar­ri­ers to women's lead­er­ship and the var­i­ous ways to de­velop and har­ness the lead­er­ship po­ten­tial of women in Qatar. The dis­cus­sion cov­ered such top­ics as women in lead­er­ship from a his­tor­i­cal con­text, por­tray­als of women in the me­dia, and whether legally bind­ing quo­tas for women should be in­tro­duced at board level.

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