Palestine banker calls for Mideast quotas for women board members

Updated 07 April 2019

Palestine banker calls for Mideast quotas for women board members

  • More than two in five Bank of Palestine employees are women
  • Norway became first country to impose gender quotas

DEAD SEA: There are many divides in Palestine — but for the territory’s largest bank that is, for once, the subject of some good news.
The Bank of Palestine says its board will have a fifty-fifty gender split within a couple of years — and its chairman has called for Norway-style quota systems for women in top management positions across the Middle East.
Hashim Shawa, group chairman of the Bank of Palestine, said 44 percent of the bank’s entire workforce are women, and that the board is on track for an equal divide.
“We will be the first bank I think in the Middle East and Arab world, and maybe one of the first in the world, to have a 50-50 quota at the board level. And that will be in the next board elections, which will be in a couple of years,” he said at the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan.
“About 10 years ago, I looked at the workforce gender balance and we were at 12 percent female … no women on the board, no women in senior positions, managers, departments, or executive levels.
“Today we have three women out of 11 on the board, we’re about 44 percent gender balanced, and we have women branch managers, women heads of department. In the C-suite, our chief credit officer, risk management, chief of HR (are) women.”
Shawa said having more women employees, including those facing customers, had broad benefits to society.
“When men have to actually approach a woman to ask for a loan, this is how you change mindsets, and you change culture. And you achieve the goal of lifting the entire society,” he said.
The Middle East has woefully low levels of women in top management positions.
In the UAE, for example, just 1.5 percent of board seats in listed companies were held by women as of mid-2016 — well below the global average.
Shawa said that he advocates a quota system in the Middle East, whereby listed companies would be obliged to have a certain proportion of women on boards.
In 2003, Norway became the first country in the world to impose a gender quota, requiring listed firms to raise the proportion of women on their boards to at least 40 percent.
“It’s a really poor excuse to say, ‘ah there are not enough women with experience.’ And fundamentally, if you don’t mobilize 50 percent of your population you’ll always be 50 percent underdeveloped,” Shawa told Arab News.
“A lot of people talk about climate change and all the challenges we face, AI and all that stuff. But we need to really address this imbalance issue.”


Oil recoups losses as OPEC, US Fed see robust economy

Updated 14 November 2019

Oil recoups losses as OPEC, US Fed see robust economy

  • US-China trade deal will help remove ‘dark cloud’ over oil, says Barkindo

LONDON: Oil prices reversed early losses on Wednesday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it saw no signs of global recession and rival US shale oil production could grow by much less than expected in 2020.

Also supporting prices were comments by US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said the US economy would see a “sustained expansion” with the full impact of recent interest rate cuts still to be felt.

Brent crude futures stood roughly flat at around $62 per barrel by 1450 GMT, having fallen by over 1 percent earlier in the day. US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $56 per barrel, up 20 cents or 0.4 percent.

“The baseline outlook remains favorable,” Powell said.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said global economic fundamentals remained strong and that he was still confident that the US and China would reach a trade deal.

“It will almost remove that dark cloud that had engulfed the global economy,” Barkindo said, adding it was too early to discuss the output policy of OPEC’s December meeting.

HIGHLIGHT

  • US oil production likely to grow by just 0.3-0.4 million barrels per day next year — or less than half of previous expectations.
  • The prospects for ‘US crude exports had turned bleak after shipping rates jumped last month.’

He also said some US companies were now saying US oil production would grow by just 0.3-0.4 million barrels per day next year — or less than half of previous expectations — reducing the risk of an oil glut next year.

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday Washington and Beijing were close to finalizing a trade deal, but he fell short of providing a date or venue for the signing ceremony.

“The expectations of an inventory build in the US and uncertainty over the OPEC+ strategy on output cuts and US/China trade deal are weighing on oil prices,” said analysts at ING, including the head of commodity strategy Warren Patterson.

In the US, crude oil inventories were forecast to have risen for a third straight week last week, while refined products inventories likely declined, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Tuesday.

ANZ analysts said the prospects for US crude exports had turned bleak after shipping rates jumped last month.