The race is on for all Saudi women
The first International Women’s Day — now celebrated annually on March 8 — was back in 1911. This year’s theme is #EachForEqual, which stresses how equality can help everyone around the world to progress. And not just people, but corporations and economies too.
I recently read an article on the website of management consulting firm Korn Ferry titled, “Want Higher Profits? Hire a Female CEO, CFO.” It revealed how, according to a study by S&P Global Market, ensuring diversity in top management positions can have a positive effect on businesses’ bottom lines. Firms with female CEOs and CFOs, it reported, deliver
superior stock-price performance, and firms with high rates of gender diversity in the boardroom are more profitable than those with low rates.
In my opinion, women in leadership positions provide great value to any company, and not just in financial terms. The article backed this up, explaining that women in leadership positions produce innovative products and consistently get better performances from their employees.
Given these findings, the statistics in the article were something of an eye-opener. As of 2018, it said, there were 19 male CEOs for every female CEO in corporate America, and six male CFOs for every female one. That made me wonder: Is the Western world moving at a super-slow pace to have only come that far? Or are we, in Saudi Arabia, moving at a super-fast pace to achieve Vision 2030, particularly where female employment is concerned?
Vision 2030 has initiated a rapid boost in women’s participation in the labor market in order to stimulate the economy. The government is working hard to increase the percentage of women in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent, and is rapidly introducing new laws to help women enter various sectors of the workforce, which will eventually benefit society as a whole.
It is not going to be a walk in the park, by any means.
In a 2010 study by Booz&Co, Saudi Arabia had among the lowest rates of female workers in the world. But I believe we will get to 30 percent within 10 years, if not sooner.
But the real challenge will be to ensure a rapid rise in Saudi women holding CEO or CFO positions. Moreover, will we see qualified Saudi women as ministers in the near future?
You might be asking why I repeated the phrase “qualified Saudi women.” I am a true believer that women should not be appointed to leadership positions just for
the sake of filling gender quotas or based on “who you know.” I want women to hold these positions because their abilities made them stand out from the crowd and because they are the best person for the job.
The race is on for all Saudi women. Let’s do our best to show the world what we can be the next CEO or CFO of a multimillion/billion-dollar Saudi company. And let’s be humble when we do get the position. Saudi women: The race to the top is on!
Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj is a best-selling Saudi author, an international public speaker and an entrepreneurship mentor.