KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: “I’m often struck when I do team workshops in the region and the Kingdom at the imbalance that I see. Oftentimes there’ll be 15 men and a couple of women, sometimes 18 or 20 men and zero women and it’s really quite striking.” Nicolai Nielson, Expert Junior Partner at McKinsey & Company said as he kicked off his discussion on the power of parity, or equality, on Tuesday at the inaugural Arab Women Forum in King Abdullah Economic City.
Nielson said he believes that by understanding the mindsets and contexts that people have and finding out how to shift those understandings we can “achieve power of parity (equality between men and women) and reinvent the workplace.”
McKinsey has been researching power of parity for the past 10 years, revealing that the economic status quo is not being met due to the exclusion of women. Their participation can add up to 12 trillion dollars of global GDP by 2025.
“We are beginning to see an increased momentum in interest in female participation in the work force, but we know that there is a lot to be done.”
But the figures show that this inequality is not unique to the Kingdom or the Arab world – it is a global issue to varying degrees.
According to research carried out by McKinsey & Company women make up half the world’s population. But of those, only 39 percent are in employment.
A quarter of women make it to management positions and a mere 5 percent become CEOs.
Only 43 percent of men think women are good leaders compared to 76 percent of women, while 62 percent of women think that having children is compatible with a high-level career, compared to 80 percent of men.
At an organizational level, research has shown that there is a high correlation between more diverse organizations – with a good mix of male and female workers - and their financial performance.
“There is a bias among many men that leadership styles of women are less effective. Leadership styles and behaviors that are most coordinated with success, it goes more in line with female styles of leadership. Things like empathy, emotional intelligence, incorporating diversified opinions are becoming increasingly important and are more prevalent in women than in men”
Currently gender parity in the Gulf region is relatively low when compared to other parts of the world. But that means it has an opportunity to increase diversity and boost its economy by employing more women. Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030 aims to secure more jobs for Saudi women.
Nielson added: “The Kingdom is transforming at an unprecedented rate.”
- 25 percent of men are confident they will succeed in their company - less than 60 percent of women have that same confidence
- 76 percent of men feel confident about success, but this number drops by nearly 20 percent to 58 percent for women
- A third of women become managers – but the figure doubles for men