Good progress in Middle East workplace gender diversity, but still work to do: Experts at WEF

Updated 06 April 2019
0

Good progress in Middle East workplace gender diversity, but still work to do: Experts at WEF

LONDON: Governments and companies in the Middle East and North Africa region are making progress in workplace gender diversity, but there is still more work to be done experts at the World Economic Forum on the MENA region said on Saturday.
During a panel discussion at the forum, titled the “Rise of Arab Women” and a press briefing asking the question: “What more can be done to drive gender diversity?” experts discussed how gender diversity can play a crucial role in driving business sustainability and improving financial performance.
Moderating the “Rise of Arab Women” panel, PwC Middle East Senior Partner Hani Ashkar said: “Diversity is integral to sustainability and overall success. Boosting the number of women in work is not just a moral imperative but also has a measurable impact on the bottom line.
“This is not going to be easy, and there is no doubt that this will require a real commitment from the public and private sectors alike.
“We will need to work out what works for our region and how to implement it effectively, and at scale, but this pales in comparison to when we look at the cost of doing nothing and continuing as we have,” he said.
During the discussion panel Princess Dina Mired of Jordan said women have so many skills to offer the workplace, and the best way for companies in the region to tap into that would be to make workplaces a meritocracy — also speaks about paternity leave allowing men to share the burden of making families — currently it’s all burdened on women.
Mariam Al-Foudery, group chief marketing officer at Agility said that, while people have a certain perception of women finding it harder to break down barriers in the Middle East, the region actually respects and understands the importance of the family dynamic more than any other region in the world and can lead the way in helping both men and women build families.
PwC surveyed more than 3,000 women and men across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt for the “Women in Work Index — Insights from Middle East and North Africa” report, which provides policymakers with perceptions and insights on the regional workforce.
During the press briefing on the report, PwC partner Norma Taki highlighted the fact that the MENA regions collectively losing an estimated $575 billion a year due to the legal and social barriers that exist for women’s in joining the workforce.
Her fellow panel speaker and PwC partner David Suarez added that an increase in gender diversity would expand and enrich the talent pool and is a “vital requirement,” particularly in Gulf countries — including Saudi Arabia and the UAE — who are looking to move beyond oil and diversify their economies.
Recent research in the region showed that the UAE was a beacon for promoting a more gender balanced workforce, with a dramatic increase in females in the workplace to 40.6% in 2018 from 29.2% in 1990.
Taki explained how women make up 66% of public-sector workers, with 30% in leadership roles. When survey respondents were asked if they agree with the statement: “My employer treats females equally when it comes to promoting from within”, some 30% of women and 37% of men in the UAE strongly agreed.
In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, dramatic change occurred over the past 12 months. 2018 was a landmark year for women in the Kingdom, with women getting behind the wheel in June 2018, the Saudi military taking applications from women and granting women the right to open their own businesses without a guardian’s permission.
Suarez praised the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but highlighted that in Egypt cultural attitudes and gender stereotypes would take longer to change, explaining that many men are still resistant to the idea of women working outside the home, which partly explains why female labor-force had increased very little since 1990, when it was 21.3% compared with 22.3% in 2018.
Reducing the gender pay gap is one imperative, but the findings of PwC’s survey reveal that Middle Eastern respondents place an equally strong emphasis on equality in progression in the workplace and acquiring leadership roles.
Additionally, 66% of respondents said they felt that governments should intervene in private-sector companies and set targets for gender diversity.
Existing national policies included a draft law in the UAE last year to ensure men and women receive equal pay. The UAE also introduced three months’ paid maternity leave for government employees last year, increasing pressure on the private sector to keep up. The Saudi Arabian government’s goal to increase female participation in the workforce to 30% as part of its Vision 2030 is underway.


Paris Air Show: After Boeing showstopper, Airbus seeks order bounce

Updated 58 min 22 sec ago
0

Paris Air Show: After Boeing showstopper, Airbus seeks order bounce

  • British Airways owner IAG signs letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets
  • Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes

PARIS: Airbus, reeling from the potential loss of a major customer for its best-selling A320neo as British Airways owner IAG placed a lifeline order for the grounded 737 MAX, prepared to hit back with more orders for its A321XLR on Wednesday.
The planemaker has been negotiating with US airlines investor Bill Franke whose Indigo Partners has also been known to place orders for multiple airlines within its portfolio and could reel it in for the Paris Air Show, industry sources said.
Airbus declined to comment.
After weathering intense scrutiny over safety and its public image, Boeing won a vote of confidence on Tuesday as IAG signed a letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets that have been grounded since March after two deadly crashes.
The surprise order lifted the energy of a previously subdued Paris Airshow, where the talk had been of the possible end of the aerospace cycle, given the issues at both Boeing and Airbus as well as geopolitical and trade tensions around the world.
Australia’s Qantas Airways said on Tuesday it would order 10 Airbus new A321XLR jets and convert a further 26 from existing orders already on the Airbus books.
Airbus is also in talks with leasing company GECAS and has been trying to secure an eye-catching order for the A321XLR from American Airlines, though the world’s largest carrier does not typically make announcements at air shows.
Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes.